1. What’s your story? Where are you from?
My name is Jor Ros and I was born in Mexico in the late 80’s, the youngest of three siblings. I spent a lot of time in the US during my childhood and preteen years but finally ended up in Barcelona, where I’m living at the moment. All my grandparents were refugees from the Civil War in Spain, and I remember they always used to talk about their past and tell us stories about the family, so in a way, me coming back and living where they did felt like a nice way to come full circle.
2. Tell us about your aesthetic.
It’s all over the place I’m afraid, and I mean that in the best way possible. I’m very sensitive to outside stimuli, so I treat my aesthetic as something that’s constantly evolving. If I had to boil it down, or define a common denominator, I guess it would be simplicity and balance. If i can convey a message with just 3 lines and one color, then I don’t need to draw 5 and have 4 colors. That sort of thing. Bottom line, I think when it comes to aesthetic I try not to take it (or myself) too seriously, it’s just a tool within the whole process of expressing my ideas, and it will probably be very different in a few months.
3. What is your favourite medium and why?
I work with both analogue and digital mediums, because I like the resulting contrast that comes from it. I’m always interested in learning new techniques and I make time for it, with this sort of exploration and laboratory-like state of mind. It’s a weird thing, because just as with aesthetics, I try not to get too caught in a definite medium. It doesn’t work well for me.
Yet, at the same time I’m currently limiting myself on purpose, regarding tools and mediums, to test myself and see how well I’m able to think on my feet, with limited resources.
4. What is your artistic process like?
Even though it’s highly risky to paraphrase Shia Labeouf for anything, I just DO things. For me, that’s the only difference really, either you do it or you don’t. I am also paraphrasing Yoda, I guess. Of course, first I think about it so that the idea can mature, maybe for 5 minutes, maybe a whole week, but in the end, it comes down to trial end error for me. Whatever form that ends up taking. There is a discipline and a method behind it of course, and being a very rigorous (borderline obsessive) and organized helps me a lot.
It’s somewhat different when you have a client behind the brief and will have some very specific conditions, but even then, you will either do it or not.
If I had to describe my artistic process in a sentence, I’d borrow Alan Moore’s ”If it doesn’t work, it’s a prototype.”
5. Who and/or what inspires your work?
I always struggle with this type of question, because I really feel like everything can. And yet, when you say that people think you’re playing coy or holding back. To get inspired, I try to make time for things I like, I love stand up comedy, I go to seminars about things I know nothing or very little about, museums, live music, good food. I guess in a sense, far from inspiring or influencing my ‘style’ or aesthetic, these things put my brain in the best mood to create and do things. We all have benchmarks and role models in our heads we look up to, and that does influence you, of course. But regarding inspiration, or even better, motivation? Day to day life is a fantastic pool to fish in.
As Paul Smith said, you can find inspiration in everything, and if you can’t, you should look again.
6. What role does art play in your life? How does it change the way you view the world?
The first thing that comes to mind is a therapeutic role, no doubt. For me, it’s a very good way to process, question and deal with things happening to or around me. Not to mention the intelectual satisfaction you get from being able to express yourself by creating or interpreting another’s work. In a way, for me this is a huge privilege and I try not to take it for granted or complain (too much.)
As for how it changes my views on the world, I think through this search for motivation in my day to day life, I revert into a kid-like state of mind, where I can be naive, play and be wondered by anything at anytime. Strange, but I dig it.
7. Where did you study?
I went to college in Barcelona. I first did Economics and Business Management, because I was good at it and sort of liked it, but also because as an 18 year old coming fresh out of high school, I had this pressure on my back to choose my one future in the span of 2 months. So I went with that, it made sense. It was good for a while, but after a couple of years, it came to a point where I just realized that if I was going to spend the rest of my life doing it, I’d end up punching someone in the face down the line, and that wasn’t a good feeling to have.
So I stopped, regrouped and thought about my options. I can speak about it more candidly now, but at the time it was a tough call to make. I’m very hard on myself, I still am but it’s gotten better, so this idea of quitting smelled and felt like a failure. Even so, thanks to a much needed (metaphorical) slap in the face from a friend and a bit of serendipity, I decided to switch and applied to Design College. Soon after , I did a MA on Illustration, and in many ways, I still consider myself a student.
That was almost 9 years ago. Long story short, best decision I have ever made, because thanks to it, nowadays I work as a freelance in the fields of Product Design and Illustration, and I can’t complain (too much)
8. Where do you see yourself in five years? Working in an agency?
Tough question! Thinking about the future makes me anxious, mostly because I do consider myself a raging planner and recently I’ve been fighting against that urge to feel in control all the time. If I have learnt anything in these past 10 years, is that having a ‘master plan’ is by no means a guarantee.
Case in point, according to my plan 5 years ago, today I should be working in a big studio/agency. Not for lack of trying, I’ve been fortunate enough to have successfully worked at many of Barcelona’s most important studios, sometimes it was good, others not so much, but in the end I learned a lot, and that’s what I choose to take away from the whole situation. Instead, today I run my own design and illustration practice, I get to choose which projects, people and companies I want to work with and combine this with teaching at my own alma mater college, which was something I never pursued or expected, but enjoy quite a bit.
To answer the question, honestly, I don’t know. I do have a wide ‘strategy’ or a protocol instead of a definite plan. I’d like to be even better at what I do and improve my abilities further. Anything outside of that, I leave to serendipity. I’ve learnt to trust my intuition, so as long as interesting people and projects keep coming, I’m okay with whatever happens. This is reinforced since I’m sort of a one man army, and that gives me a lot of flexibility and agility, which definitely helps.
9. What about in ten?
Even more anxiety! But quite the same answer.To elaborate, there are so many things you control in life, so I focus on the ones that I can, which are basically my skills and how I interact with other people. At the same time, I am quite an ambitious person, and a bit of a workaholic, so I do have wants and needs that I’d like to see fulfilled in at least the next ten years, but as long as I’m better than I was 10 years ago, I’ll call it a win. In the words of Sol Lewitt to Eva Hasse, one cannot be responsible for the world, one can only be responsible for their work.
10. What do you hope to achieve with your art?
I feel not having a deep answer to this question might make me look bad! Maybe to be able to make even MORE art. That would suffice. I really don’t know, I guess art, or my art in this case, is first and foremost for my own sake. Which is selfish, I am fully aware of that.
What I mean is that I first focus on expressing myself, and then if someone finds that cool, or beautiful, or interesting (or all three!) then all the better. Knowing that, there’s undoubtedly people who are going to like your work, people who won’t and then people who just won’t care. But I try not to concern myself with any of those groups while I am creating a piece. If my work, both commercial and personal, can have a positive influence on someone’s day, that is fantastic as well.
To achieve this self sustainability, you have to make a living out of it, and when working with a client you face other workarounds and implications, but my philosophy remains the same. Luckily, usually clients approach me because they like what I do, and I don’t have to bang my head against an unmovable wall.
11. Now, tell us a little more about you as a person: what is your favourite food?
Food might as well be my favourite thing in the world, so choosing only one format is torture, but I’d have to go with anything in the Sandwich family, including their distant cousin, freaking tacos man.
12. Favourite book?
My most recent favourite is a book titled Kim Jong Il Looking at things, which is exactly what it sounds like. A collection of actual photographs of the dictator looking at a bunch of random things. It is as silly as it is hilarious, and I love it for that same reason.
On a more (not too) serious note, I’d say Grayson’s Perry Playing to the gallery, has been amazing, or Richard Ayoade’s Ayoade on Ayoade, A Cinematic Odyssey.
13. Favourite genre of music?
Let me read you a brief excerpt of my phone’s playlist: Nirvana is followed by Chopin, The Kinks, The Platters and then a little bit of Kanye. You get the idea. I feel like trying to map out my taste in music would be a nightmare. I hope no one is ever tasked with that job.
Essentially, if I like how it sounds, it goes in the pile.
14. What are your hobbies?
I really enjoy cooking or doing anything related to gastronomy. Playing with Mati, my dog. Learning about new things, in general. Also, I do have to say drawing, I do it as work, but it is still very close to my heart as a hobbie, oh and lately animation too.
15. If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?
Hm! probably a cook? At least I think so. Either that or a professional meme maker.