Artist Interview – Jeff Hinchee

Jeff Hinchee’s art work moves effortlessly between beautiful hand drawn illustrations, intricate 3D model making and complex digital layering. His editorial work is sharp and highly creative, and his character design work is fun and effortless. We love the way his style comes through his palette and textures as much as it does with his wonderful drawing style.

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1) How do you motivate yourself?  

JH: Anytime I’m working towards a deadline, it’s really easy to stay motivated. My work is pretty varied between illustration gigs, and more design centered work like concept rendering, model building, and set design; and after a lot of that creative work I am generally unmotivated to keep a sketchbook or drawing for relaxation. I really admire anyone that can, but I also think they’re crazy! That said, a lot of project ideas pop into my head and I have to see my whims through to completion. If I feel really stuck, a museum trip always energizes me!

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2)  How do you structure your time?

JH: My boyfriend wakes up very early for work, and I feel guilty if I let my mornings slip away. If I’m working out of a different studio I usually try to squeeze in at least an hour of work on other projects before my commute. If I’m working in my own studio (which is the norm) I get right to work after some coffee and news. Deadlines help me parcel out my time between research, sketching, etc. BUT I generally try to get emails and progress out by 11 or noon so I have the rest of the day for notes or other projects if I’m juggling. That may have evolved from working with west-coast clients because that’s right when they’re getting into work and checking email.

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3) What do you listen to when you work?

JH: To be honest, I can easily work in silence for a long time without even realizing. It used to be that I would try to think of something to listen to, go searching, lose track, and forget. But now that Alexa is in my studio, I can just babble at her while I’m working and something will play!

When I start my day I try to catch the previous night’s Rachel Maddow, or listen to NPR. Usually BBC World News and a bit of Brian Lehrer (until the call in format drives me crazy). If I’m researching, doing prelim sketches, or detailed work I have to listen to music because I really don’t retain what I’m listening to. Whatever pops into my head, I ask Alexa to play. If I’m working on a final piece or something tedious I have a lot more options. I’ll listen to a podcast (Lovett or Leave It, My Favorite Murder, Gayest Episode Ever, and lately Sam Pancake Presents the Monday Afternoon Movie) or an audio book. I just finished Madeline Miller’s “Circe”, but I’ve also been devouring audio books by Michael McDowell, who wrote Beetlejuice and a bunch of fun gothic horror stories in that vein. Sometimes I’ll put on an embarrassing tv show on Netflix or Amazon that doesn’t require much attention (like Pretty Little Liars). I missed their text messages unless they read them aloud, but it doesn’t matter. Those poor girls were tortured for like 300 episodes. And now I seem like someone who’s really into horror, murder, and witchy things, but it’s just camp that I love. I have terrible taste.

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4) Who are three artists that inspire you?

JH: This is very hard. I’m friends with a lot of amazing artists, and there are a hundred others on instagram. First I’ll say Robert Perdziola. He’s a set and costume designer I assisted when I first moved to the city, and he is an incomparable artist, and a genuinely lovely human and friend. He taught me so much about drawing and painting (which I know isn’t always evidenced in my current work)… and also patience. I have one of his renderings hanging in our apartment (it’s Mercutio from the opera “Romeo et Juliette”) and it’s a daily inspiration. Also, Gary Panter. If you don’t know, he designed Pee-Wee’s Playhouse. I was, and am still, devoted to that show. His aesthetic is seared into my brain, and absolutely fundamental to the work I make and my personality. I think I knew I would move to the East Village when I was 8 years old. I actually thumbed through his book (of paintings) the other day and it helped me resolve a tricky color palette. He’s a genius. Finally, my dear friend Delia Hauser. She has such a busy life and still manages to make the most incredible, surprising, hilarious things: textiles, food, paintings… everything. We are always brainstorming together and I trust her advice implicitly. She just installed an enormous soft sculpture wall hanging for a client that really belongs in MoMA. Google all of these people.

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5) What’s the best piece(s) of advice you have been given?

JH: Literally no advice comes to mind other than my father saying “Be good.” He said it a lot: every day before school, whenever we finished a phone call, whenever I was backing out of the driveway on my way somewhere. I’m sure he meant it in the broadest possible sense… encompassing my work ethic and not just my moral compass. And I think I have been pretty good!

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6) Describe an object or tool related to your work that you love.

JH: I’ve got bins of strange objects that I use in my work, but just to hone way in, I’m quite attached to an old “0” brush and a pink nib holder (that I used in an illustration years ago) that I use constantly for inking.

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7) An anonymous patron has donated $100K for you to build your dream studio, what would it look like and where would it be?

JH: vMy work is probably best described as assemblage, and while I like to think I’m adaptable to small or restrictive studio spaces, I think my dream studio would be large enough to have some distinct areas at the ready. So in addition to my general work table, an area dedicated to photography and all of that equipment would be perfect, as well as an area for screenprinting (darkroom, light table, and cleaning station) which I miss doing, maybe even a small spot for sewing, and an attached outdoor space or garden to relax in. Of course loads of storage for all of my paper models. And a studio dog!

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Find Jeff’s Instagram account at @jeff_hinchee_art

And online here.

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