Where does one start when trying to describe the art of Jake Reed?
There’s the traditional approach: “Jake Reed makes insane cartoons about monsters, beer, blow, and boobs, with some leather daddy imagery and Water World hallucination sequences thrown in for posterity.”
There’s the theoretical: “Jake Reed does, with the help of a cast of semi-gross mutant cartoons, everything your 19-year-old self fantasized about doing when they set Judas Priest as their MySpace theme song.”
And then, there’s always the straight-up method: “This shit is fucking hilarious, so pipe down with your questions and look at it if you’re not allergic to laughing.”
But whatever way we chose to describe his art to you, know this. Whether it’s in the form of a painting, zine, skateboard or animation, It’s going to entertain the Beats by Dre headphones right off your possibly-gauged ears.
And after watching his animated cartoon series, Low Hanging Fruit, we had to know more about the man who made writing an introduction to his cartoons so damn hard.
So, here’s everything you need to know about Jake Reed’s art, according to Jake Reed.
Explain your art in under 10 words.
People over-doing it.
Influences! What are yours?
Cartoons and horror films from the ‘80s and ‘90s, old and new skateboard stuff, stupid comedy movies, early ‘90s SNL, and my friend Derek Milton’s short films.
What was your favorite cartoon growing up?
He Man and the Masters of the Universe! They’re so amazing … I still watch them; they’re so latently homo-erotic and just visually awesome. My mom took my Slush Head action figure from the show and put it on display in this glass showcase in my living room until I moved out. She also loved that shit. After that, Beavis and Butthead was also huge.
Tell us about your characters. Where did you get the idea for the monsters?
They’re probably a mixture of old skateboard graphics, cartoons from when I was a kid in the late 80’s early 90’s, and bums that lived off of Colfax Avenue that I would see when I was like 17-19 when I was living in Denver and really started drawing and painting a lot. I think that anyone who’s spent time in Denver can agree that there is a certain kind of mutant quality to the Colfax bum.
Okay, so mutants are rad, but what are Robocop and Rob Halford doing in there?
Obviously, I’m a huge fan of both. Robocop was one of the first things I ever learned to draw. They’re both super funny to me they are both so tough, yet so tender … it makes me laugh.
Are any based on people you know?
Characters in the animations are kind of an exaggerated version of lots of my friends and probably myself as well.
Tell us a little about your process. Do you have any weird rituals or procedures?
The animation fuels everything. It takes the most time. I hand draw everything and paint it with ink, then scan it in cut it up in Photoshop, then animate it with After Effects. I always try to have one animation project going and it hopefully will lead me to making other things like paintings and sculptures. As far as rituals go, no one can talk in my studio unless they are holding a rain stick.
You describe your style as “grotesque, immature cartoons.” What’s the lure of that style to you?
I guess I try and make stuff that I would enjoy myself. I’ve always liked stuff that was kind of gross and on the fringe. I’m not a fan of things that are overly polished. I find the things that are most inspiring are usually kind of shitty in a way, if that makes sense.
What was the process of taking your paintings and still imagery into the animation arena? What gave you the idea to do that?
I’ve always wanted to make cartoons, but I just had no idea how to make them technically. I looked online and stuff to see which software was the most comprehensive to make stuff move and I took a two week course on After Effects. Then I just taught myself through YouTube tutorials. I really wish I would have made the leap earlier cause I love animation.
How have people reacted to your work?
My friends and family have been super supportive. It’s awesome. In school, for the most part people responded positively as well. I try not to care at all, but it’s rad that at least the people I care about are so supportive. I feel super lucky for that.
You’ve maintained the same subject (monsters) for a while now; have you ever switched it up? Any plans to?
At the beginning of college, I had to learn to draw things correctly. I did one kind-of cool portrait of King Diamond (is that lame to write out?) … but honestly no. I’m kind of into taking an idea and doing everything with it like creating a brand almost like old cartoons use to. I think it’s rad to have the cartoon, the live action movie, the action figure and so on. I guess I’m a sucker for that kind of thing.
You’re prolific as fuck. Where do you find the motivation to keep creating?
Thank you, you are sweet! I feel compelled to for some strange reason. I don’t know. It feels ridiculous sometimes to kind of have to take something so fun and silly so seriously. Being like “ Sorry dudes I can’t hang out and drink ‘cause I really have to finish this cartoon about monsters doing blow and getting scabies” feels funny to me. It just feels like the right thing to do for some reason.
If you were to get one of your pieces tattooed on you, which one would you chose?
I feel like getting your own artwork tattooed on you is kinda a kook move? Maybe that actually makes total sense … no judgments, #respect . Actually, some dudes in Santa Rosa got Low Hanging Fruit tats, I was totes flattered.
Didn’t some chick tattoo your name on her ass?
Kind of. My friend tattooed my nickname on her ass: “Yabo Rocks.” It was on my first trip to San Francisco when I was 19. We were obviously drunk and it was an “I’ll get yours if you get mine” sort of deal. I was like, Yeah this girl’s into me.
So she got the tattoo on her butt, then we took a break to drive drunk to go illegally purchase more booze, and when I returned to the car with a shit ton of Jagermeister, she was making out with my other friend in the back seat. So, we got back to the house and she was like “Your turn!”, I was like … “Nah, I changed my mind.”
In one of your pieces, you say “Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my ying-yang toe ring the most.” Did you ever find it?
Life is like the eternal search for your lost metaphoric ying-yang toe ring, so, no.
Describe your dream date. Don’t ask us why.
I’d start of by bringing my iPad to the park to impress the girl with my live Red Hot Chili Peppers downloads, as well as several Bud Light Limes. After that, Panera Bread is always a panty-splasher. It’s all deadly.
What’s next for you?
Moving to LA is the big one! I’m doing an art show at my buddy’s skate shop Satellite in Boulder,CO before I leave. I’ve saved every drawing that I’ve ever scanned into any of my cartoons in this one binder … there’s seriously hundreds of them. I’m going to display them and have them for sale there, and I’m also going to make an animation for the event and possibly design some other stuff! If you’ll be in Colorado September 20th, come party!
Alright, now for the good stuff. Check out Episode 1 of Low Hanging Fruit right here, right now. And when you’ve had your fill of that, check out the rest of his episodes on Vimeo. You can also see the rest of his paintings, skate graphics, sculptures and more on his Tumblr.