JASON WOODSIDE interview • delon isaacs
My oh-so-talented big sister, I never know what you’re doing. Could you fucking sit still for a second? Where are you at this very moment? What are you working on?
Sweet baby bones, I know you miss me… I’m on a layover in Doha, drinking a weird coffee. I’m on my way to Spain to paint in Madrid with some other art dogs. Yeah, I literally can’t sit still; I think I get anxiety, which is sucky. It’s been a wild year and I’m super grateful. A lot of travel and a lot of new buddies. That hang we had with Banjo and the crew in Paris was kinda the best.
You’re originally from a pretty weird place in Florida, correct? What was your adolescent life like in the Sunshine State? What kinds of things were you into and how did you kind of break out?
Yep, St. Augustine. Weird, but good weird for Florida. There’s definitely some weirder/dark zones in FLA that I don’t miss. St. Augustine is a smaller coastal town, super pretty and comfortable. There was a heavy sporty/churchy culture so I was pretty psyched on doing the opposite. I was in the water a lot and rode skateboards. I played in a few punky kinda bands through middle school and high school. Breaking out was a mission. It was watching old NYC skate dog movies that got me all psyched on urban culture and arty things. I remember sneaking into the theater to see “KIDS” when I was 12 and becoming hooked and pretty infatuated with New York City. I ended up getting into the School of Visual Arts and splitting up there shortly after high school.
How freakin’ cool was New York in the early ‘00s when you first moved there? How in love with New York were you back then? Do you feel like any of your success is owed to that transition to the Big Apple?
Yeah, I moved up when I was 18, on September 9th, 2001 and watched the Twin Towers come down on the 11th – so fucked. I remember we had psychiatrists coming to my school to talk to the kids making sure we were all good. That part was pretty awful. I guess the positive side of that was it really pulled people together, kinda like the people that were willing to stay after something so gnarly were the ones that really loved it. Maybe a year or two after the dust began to settle and yes, it was a pretty magical place. Politics stilled sucked and we were scared to ride the subway due to anthrax scares, but it felt like the creative subculture was really thriving. It felt like those grimy bars, art, music and skateboarding culture were kinda the rulers of downtown. It seemed like less financial turkeys and corporates were around, as it was still kind of a wreck down there. Also not sure if it was that period in my life, bright lights/big city, but fuck it was radical. Yeah, 100% is owed to bailing the small town life and making the move up, at least for me – not even art related, but just growing as a human and becoming generally more aware.
Do you have the same feelings about NY now? Has anything changed? And is it somewhere you want to continue to be for the next five years?
Yeah, unfortunately my feelings have changed a bit. I have four to five core buddies that I hang with; otherwise I’m nailing things in the studio or mostly on the road. So yeah, I don’t go out so much any more… Or maybe I’m just older. With the arty stuff – I feel like that core culture stuff comes in pulses. At the moment it seems on the deflate. A lot of the artists I loved from that early 2000s period have died, got deported or became super stars and just bailed. Otherwise, maybe it’s missing that creative influx, as it’s just too expensive to live as an artist. Artists need to explore their craft and most times have to fail to progress. Unfortunately the financial pressures of the city don’t allow for this. I miss those dark, sketchy bars and weirdo graf kids. Unfortunately, for me it’s just not there. Yeah, hoping to wrap up my time in the city in the next year or so. Keen to settle in closer to a beach for a bit of a cleansing. We’ll see.
Okay I need a personal arty question here. Um… How different was your art 10 years ago compared to where it’s at today? And how long ago did you make that realization or gain that comfort where you were like, “Okay this is who I am now, this is my style of work, this is the kind of artist I want to be”?
Yeah, my art 10 years ago was very different. It was much more figurative and not so abstract or based on color and movement. I was just getting out of school at SVA and still had some interest in film and clothing so my head was all over the place. I guess there was never really a moment that was like, “this is it, this is me.” It was more “this is fun and let’s keep it rolling.” I guess with painting, it was the most self-sufficient way to create something I was psyched on. With clothing or film there’s just so many moving parts, personalities and money involved that it was hard to be super passionate. If I wanted to paint, I could paint.
Do you enjoy painting murals more than studio projects or vice-versa? How is your method of creating art different when it comes to painting a building or a structure compared to a canvas?
It’s always different. I’ll find the studio time is more of a study for the larger wall pieces. Technically the method is much the same, just more paint and a longer measuring tape. The social side of the larger wall stuff is cool. Maybe there’s a kid that gets psyched seeing your wall and decides he wants to start painting… or you stoke someone out on the way to work. Either way, there’s a sense of connection with the community that you wouldn’t get being buried in the studio. Being an introvert like myself, I need all the help I can get.
Tell us a little bit about this collaboration you’ve got going with our bro dawgs from Vissla? How did that relationship spark and what kinds of things can we look forward to in the future? And how nice is Keegan Fong’s smile?
Ol’ Keegs got the smile. He could be our long-lost little sister! Yeah, the Vissla boys are great; super supportive and a bit of a family vibe there. I made the connection through Hayden after we collaborated on some boards for Craig Anderson. The current collaboration is in the process of being rolled out with some cool pieces. Some boardies, some tees, a Hawaiian shirt and a wetty vest that I’m psyched on. Yeah, some good things coming in the future. We’re doing a thing at Green Room in Japan this May and just finished another small collection dropping spring ’18. It’s a nice outlet for me as the surf dude world was never really my channel. I grew up pretty passionate about surfing and the water, but was never really involved in the industry side of things. So creating some stuff with a different headspace has been fun.
You got some sick, tight collaborations under your belt, Jason. What types of things do you take in high consideration before working with a company? Does creating some of these unions scare the poop out of you sometimes?
Stripped back, I guess it’s gotta be cool. I like to keep it simple and ask myself if my mentors do that? Or would I back it if one of my homies teamed up with that brand? For the most part, I have to get along with the people behind the business and it has to be genuine and relatable. Yeah, it is scary, but I also like to switch it up to align with different industries. Going real hard in one realm would be selling yourself short. I don’t know, maybe I do this because I want to learn more. For instance, I’ll work with Saatchi&Saatchi because I respect their place in the design/art world and want to see how it works at such a crazy level. Or I’ll do an event at Colette in Paris because I enjoy working with Sarah and seeing her approach to retail. A lot of the time during my collaborations the actual product becomes a secondary sort of add-on compared to relationships I’ve formed.
Who are the top five art badasses that you hold in the highest regards?
Man, there’s more than five, but at this moment: Dan Colen, Tauba Auerbach, Tom Sachs, Dash and Margaret.
What’s the end-all goal for Woodside with all this art stuff? Are you hustling for Lambos and a mansion in the Keys or something else? What kind of life do you see yourself being the most content with in your later future?
Hustling Lambos all day. Nah, my goal is to be happy. At the moment I’m really enjoying painting and the opportunities that keep happening. I think the money stuff finds you if you’re genuinely passionate about what you’re pursuing. In the future I see myself working closer with cities and museums to create more public works. I guess the end result is to inspire people to do something positive.
Last question: How much do you love my hair cut? Do you still bring a photo of me to Supercuts every time you go?
I can’t keep up these days, doggie. The photos I bring to Supercuts are usually creepy screen shots from your Insta stories and kinda blurry. They’ll get it right one day.