Jeff Stapleton loves the layering of images and textures to create new shapes and colors. Jeff takes digital files arranged in a grid formation and transforms them into something more organic, collaborative, and free-flowing through manipulation, texture, and color transitions. As Jeff enters the world of NFTs, he brings his “mosaic style” with him, as seen in his Van Gogh avatars. Stapleton holds a Bachelors degree in Fine Arts from the Columbus College of Art & Design.
Hi Jeff! Your work is very original! Can you tell us a bit about how you began your career as an artist and how you cultivated this style?
My background is design and traditional art, meaning drawing, pastel and oil painting
While I can do all of those things, I felt I may not be able to do it any better than anyone else.
I wanted to bring something that was different and visually stimulating.
This idea just popped into my head and I had to try it out. I’ve been working on this experiment for 12 and even now, I continue to learn new things, better craftsmanship, better materials, etc. Some random placement of images may just be wonderful accidents that place it against the larger image or a group of other images.
This style is a bit different. A bit unique.
How do you plan them out? Is there a theme to all the small images that make up the large image together?
That is a great question! Sometimes there is a theme and sometimes it is a texture of images.
Placing the smaller images are not always a planned design. They may be placed at random or they may be placed based on the larger image. Sometimes when I am collecting and placing the smaller images, I have an idea of what the larger image will be
and then I will try other images to overlay and sometimes I surprise myself with a completely different image!
Sometimes there are messages interwoven within the composition – it can have a double meaning. On the surface it may have one point of view and underneath there may be a story the is completely the opposite.
I did a series on US currency highlighting famous US Presidents and some of their great accomplishments, but through the background you may also learn of their greatest mistakes. For example, Andrew Jackson’s Trail of Tears story is woven into the background and on Benjamin Franklin’s, it is his great womanizing.
I love the idea of presenting a story, whether subtle or not so subtle.
And when I share my artwork with others, I often learn a little something from their point of view that is fun and adds to my experience. Here you see two opposites. One with black and white and one that is filled with color:
The technique itself is a bit of a story as well.
Collage is a longstanding technique of sorts, but I start out with a digital file when I am designing and once finished, I work to step away from that technology.
The idea of overloading so many images into a single piece is a bit like our world today where we are visually bombarded with information, images, etc. that it has become our norm. Our screens or windows are open with so much information, we don’t think about it. So, I suppose, it’s a bit like our lives today: complicated, hidden, textured and perhaps a bit messy at times.
I love the idea of all of these pieces not fitting perfectly back together and that there may be a few wrinkles or offset pieces. It’s digital but not.
You don’t have to get too deep into it either. You can simply enjoy the color and composition or the tiny images that may bring a smile.
This image is reflective of personal family memories. A grandfather’s gift to his grandchildren:
Did you feel any connection with Van Gogh while you worked on creating different versions of him?
My experience working on the Van Gogh project did allow me to experience something a little different. I felt I got to see what I thought must be a little more through another artist’s eyes.I think his journey was in many ways already headed in a direction much like this of today. His struggles and outlets to express that are apparent to me in his work. There is nothing real, it is through his emotions and experiences that his art is presented to us. Today our technology continues to allow us to express our emotions, struggles and ideas although mediums have evolved I asked myself: how can I pay homage to him and still present what my style without being overbearing? Trying to find the right balance was often the hardest thing for me.
You can see the layered textures of my signature style along with Van Gogh’s thick painted strokes of paint. I thought this played well as a mix or our collective styles. I took his own work (mostly) so as not to lose who he is or the work itself. Layering my textures, colors I hoped would work together as a cohesive piece. You know, I have found after time and trial and error…. sometimes working fast does not allow me to over think too much and that can bring me surprises that I had not imagined.
Is there anything that you would like for collectors to know about you?
I have a secret: I always add a picture of me somewhere within. In the beginning, I would forget where it was at and would spend time searching for it. But now I always try to place in the bottom left corner somewhere, often hidden in the shadows or some area not too highlighted. I will tell a client after they have purchased a piece that my image is in there and I show them what the picture looks like and from there, they can enjoy the search.
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