November 22nd, 2017
Jesse Gussow

There is something incredibly awe-inspiring about Hyperrealism artwork. Oda is one artist whose work I’m constantly in awe of. His current oil paintings focus on a series of minerals and they are some of the most unique and gorgeous pieces of work I’ve come across. As with all Hyperrealism, the details are incredible!  Oda shows texture to the pieces that is phenomenal and what makes his work so impressive. I never realized that a painting of minerals was so wicked and something that I would love to add to my collection.


Where are you from?

Well, I was born in Columbia, South Carolina. But the majority of my upbringing was spent in Alabama and Florida. Now residing in eastern Ontario, Canada.


How did you get started in art?

I’ve been an artist for as long as I can remember. Always holding a pencil and drawing. As a child, when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, my answer was always artist. My mother is a seamstress and father is a master carpenter. So I was influenced in one way or another by the things they created. I learned to crochet and knit, and also to weld and woodwork. I’ve had quite a vast range of creative influence. But as a career, I started tattooing in 2007. That was my first job that I was able to use art as a profession. I thought I would be doing that until the day I died, until I met my wife and she taught me to paint. She introduced me to a whole new love for art and also another way to make a living from it.


How would you describe your work?

I would describe my work as symbolic and introspective. When I paint a stone or mineral, it’s not just that stone or mineral. It represents something I wanted to convey. Whether it be in what the stone is composed of, or what I hope it allows the viewer to see for themselves on a greater scale. I want the viewer to take a journey into a world of things that would otherwise be overlooked. And to possibly allow them to think about what that journey might mean for them in their own lives.


What is your favourite aspect about being an artist?

The best part of being an artist is the retirement plan. Haha. I wish. The best part is definitely the freedom. Freedom in what I choose to create. Who I choose to be. What I wear, or what my day consists of. Sure there are degrees of conformity when it comes to what a client or gallery might want from you, but as the artist you have the freedom in how you choose to allow that to shape your work.


If you were not an artist, what job would you have?

That’s hard to say. I can’t image not being an artist. No matter what job I have, I’ll always be an artist. Being an artist is more than a profession or a way to make money. Being an artist is in the soul. But to answer the question, as a profession, I guess I would be a geologist. I guess that’s pretty apparent from my choice of imagery that I paint, haha.


How long does a project usually take from inception to completion; what are the steps?

I would say on average, one to two weeks. I have quite a bit of photo reference on hand that I paint from. So my mineral and stone paintings come from the plethora of images I’ve taken over the years. From there, I edit until I find the composition and color palette that I would like for the painting, and I get right to it. When the brush hits the canvas it usually take 4-10 days to finish. I’ve been starting some sculptural work as of late. Those projects start as a concept that I might doodle some thumbnails to get an idea of shapes and proportions. Then I just get right to it. Allowing for an organic process that changes along the way. Just enjoying the process and not worrying with the outcome too much.


Your artwork with eyes and portraits was outstanding, but then I was even more amazed with how phenomenal your artwork of minerals and stones was. What were some of the challenges between the two different types of subject matter?

Well, the eyes and portraiture were mostly collaborations with my wife. She taught me how to paint and we painted collaboratively for about a year. The jump to painting minerals was me finding myself and painting the things that spoke to me as an individual. We still do the collaborative work here and there but our current focus is on our solo works. So the challenges between the two subject matters comes from not having her guidance and expertise in the work. She’s such an amazing painter and I was so grateful to learn under her. In our collaborative works, we used our strong points to make each piece the best it could possibly be. Working alone, it’s up to me alone to achieve that same level of quality that I know is possible when working with my wife.


If you could have a super power what would it be, and why?

I would have to say telekinesis. Mostly because I hate having to get up to turn the fan or light off and on.


What are some of your favourite books?

I feel like I shouldn’t say what my favorites are, haha. Pretty sure everyone would make fun of me. So I’ll just keep those to myself, lol. But my most recent reads were ‘Metamorphosis’ by Franz Kafka. I really enjoyed that one. Short read but well worth it.  And I’m in the middle of reading Isamu Noguchi’s autobiography. I’ve  always enjoyed reading autobiographies, especially when it’s my all time favorite sculptor.


Your work focuses on the raw materials before humanities influence. What should people let be for the betterment of the Earth?

Fossil fuels and trees. There’s so many replacements for those now, that it’s sad we continue to destroy our forests, our ozone, and not to mention our health, as we “progress” as a society and species. The planet is pretty much beyond fixing at this point, but leaving those things alone would greatly improve Earth’s chance for survival.


How have you grown as an artist since you first started to now?

I’ve grown exponentially since I started. From technical application, concept, execution, and efficiency. Not to mention the business side of things. To be a successful artist, you have to be a good businessman as well. I’m actually still really terrible at that, but I’m getting better. I’m always growing and I always will. Plateaus happen to everyone, but anytime I feel that plateau coming, I try to do something new to keep things fresh and allow my mind to look at things in a different perspective. That usually helps push me past those hurdles and allows me to keep growing as an artist.


How important is social media and a personal website for artists?

In the technical age we live in I would say it’s one of the more important things as an emerging artist. There are those out there that make it without social media, or on the rare occasion I’m sure some can succeed without a website. I would guess that most emerging artists rely on social media and their website to propel them forward. Networking is key, and we are lucky enough to have this internet thing to bring us together. I try to keep up with it, but I could and should be doing a better job of that. Staying relevant is so important. Posting daily, keeping your name in the forefront of people’s mind. Never giving them a chance to forget your name. I’m always updating my website, and adjusting it to make sure it’s easy to view and is aesthetically pleasing to look at. Also, make it easy for people to contact you.


What goals do you have for your art in the future?

I plan to do more sculpture. I will probably slow down on painting and really try to spend more time in the workshop with the chisels. As much as I enjoy the 2d world, I like working 3 dimensionally even more. My brain sees things dimensionally, and I hope to improve that skillset and vision in that field for 2018.


What is your favourite mineral and why?

I’m not 100% sure this falls into the “mineral” category, but meteoric iron would be on the top of my list. Its striations and makeup are beautiful as is, but I love that it’s travelled through space, and found its way to earth.


Do you prefer Oreo or Fudgee-O cookies?

I’m not sure what a Fudgee-O cookie is so I have to go with Oreo. Not to mention Oreos are vegan so that’s a plus for me!


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