Instagram: @jackcotoloart

1. What’s your story? Where are you from?

I’m a visual artist + musician/producer from Harrisburg, PA. I’ve lived here my whole life thus far. For anyone unfamiliar, it’s like 2 hours from Philadelphia. I like being equally close to the woods/forest and the city. 

2. Tell us about your aesthetic.

I guess my aesthetics are lasers, eyeballs, membranes, floaty things, melty things, creatures, weird lil guys, it’s just changing with whatever piques my interest haha.

3. What is your favourite medium and why?

Lately, my fav has been digital, mainly drawing in Photoshop. I grew up and spent alot of time doing art either strictly analog -or doing analog drawings but colouring them digitally with photoshop or illustrator. But recently I switched to an all digital workflow and I am loving it alot more than I thought I would. There’s SO much freedom to make mistakes, try things, copy stuff, augment things, and the undo button doesn’t hurt either. This switch has just made me feel like I can try so many more ideas and have more flexibility to make them work into a presentable final product. Sometimes analog art is limiting where if you mess up a painting really bad -you’re kinda stuck with it. I like having the space to experiment and make different versions of a single idea. 

4. What is your artistic process like?

It’s deeply entwined with music. I do alot of cover art for both my own music and other artist’s music, and I’m typically using music as a jumping off point for where a piece of art will go. If I’m doing cover art for someone, I’ll often listen to ONLY that song/project on and off a bunch to feel out what visually fits their work. Sometimes I’ll listen to it once, do a sketch based off my immediate impulse, and not listen again for a few days to develop the idea based off that initial impulse and THEN return to the song and make sure it still fits. It all depends on the project, but overall regardless of whether I’m doing cover art or not – music is crucial in that whole process. It’s inseparable. 

5. Who and/or what inspires your work? 

I feel like music is the go-to answer but it’s a lot of things. I’m def inspired by alot of nature/microbiology stuff – there’s sooo much visually interesting stuff going on with things smaller than we can see. I love seeing illustrations of cellular structures, root systems, or even images from electron microscopes. Such rich texture and definition in such small stuff. I also love animation, cartoons, 3D work, etc. etc. And I make sure to keep lots of interesting visual artists/musicians/animators in my timeline on social media so I can feel inspired there when I need it too. 

6. What role does art play in your life? How does it change the way you view the world?

It’s pretty much the main component of my life at this point. And that’s definitely by design – art and music have stood the test of time for me in terms of what deserves my attention, time, and focus. Alot of other paths didn’t hold water for me, or just felt pointless. I love being surrounded by other artists, talking about what makes us excited, what we’re working on, what we’re scared of, etc. It feels meaningful and in that way enriches my life. It’s fun, it’s challenging, it’s a personal sanctuary, there’s hundreds of reasons to make this a main part of my life.

7. Where did you study?

I did art classes in high school and went to a magnet school (Capital Area School for the Arts) for art then as well. I hated my normal high school, but that time at CASA really helped me take art more seriously and gave me alot of necessary practice as a kid. That’s about it, everything else was self taught or learned online.

8. Where do you see yourself in five years?

While I want to keep doing alot of what I’m doing right now, i.e. commissions, digital art, music production, etc. – I’m hoping in the next five years to learn a great deal more about animation. I’ve loved animation as long as I can remember – and always wanted to get into it but never had a computer strong enough to do anything substantial. The past year or 2 I got a nicer computer and began learning little bits, scouring youtube for tutorials, finding lessons online, etc. So I’m definitely making that a long term goal to continue learning and get better at it. But other than that I’d love to play more shows, travel, and do more visual+music work with other artists as well. 

9. What about in ten?

Yeesh uhhh, haha I don’t know – just doing what I’m doing now on a bigger scale I hope! And making a lil more money certainly couldn’t hurt either.

10. What do you hope to achieve with your art?

My main goal is to just become more and more transparent + effective in whatever feeling/ideas I’m trying to communicate. Authenticity is definitely the overarching goal. There’s alot of other achievements I’d like to reach but if it doesn’t support that core value, it’s pointless.

11. Now, tell us a little more about you as a person: what is your favourite food?

Mangos, there’s just nothing that beats a perfectly ripe, sweet, succulent mango. Except maybe some fried plantains. Depends on the mood.

12. Favourite book?

Free Play by Stephen Nachmanovitch

13. Favourite genre of music? 

Just one? That’s not fair. I love lots of genres -I like anything that’s original, progressive, and makes me feel something substantial. The latter being the most important.

14. What are your hobbies? 

Other than art and music stuff, I love skateboarding, cooking, and video games.

15. If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?

Good question. Maybe a cook? I really have no idea haha. I’d probably just be doing something else creative.