MEET YOUR MAKERS
Presented by TIX on the Square
Few things are more powerful than our stories. They’re how we make sense of the world and our place in it. This week, we profile an artist who does just that—connects people to their memories through visual art. His name is Jason Blower, and you’ve likely admired his work or visited his online home, Snow Alligator—a whimsical collection of art and décor that takes its cues from Jason’s own story: a childhood of imaginative play, a spirit of positivity, and the desire to create communities from memories. Meet this week’s maker, Jason Blower.
TIX: Architecture, skylines, and the history behind city landmarks are strong themes in your work. Why do those narratives speak to you?
J.B: My Father has a grand knowledge of the history of the city, and as a kid I was often quizzed on names of places or told tales of what happened or used to be there. As I got older and talked to friends, I realized how many people know the history of places around the world, but barely grasp the history of our city—which is important. How are we to understand ourselves and the culture of the city if we don’t know or understand the choices of our past. I focus on so much of that to highlight that idea and for us to reflect on our own memories and choices of living in this city.
TIX: There’s also a lot of joy and humour in your work. Why are they important to you and your storytelling?
J.B: I suppose it’s because of my rose-coloured-glasses look at life. I tend to look at the positives and see life as an adventure. Frame of mind is so important in the pursuit of life because the “world” is an unforgiving place—it’s hard and there are setbacks, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t also beautiful and full of fun, too.
TIX: You’ve described your work as having a warm, mid-century modern aesthetic. What about that style suits your artistic strengths and sensibilities?
J.B: I think that the eras that grew out of the end of the Second World War were such a time of re-vigour—the change in the status quo and the feeling of optimism that came from the abundance that post-war offered. This was reflected in the artwork, design, and cartoons of the time. The simplicity of the style is appealing and easy to understand. Mixing the optimism and simplicity of the aesthetic, I think, brings back nostalgic feelings of youth. And most of us miss the days of our more carefree youth.
TIX: Tell us how your storybooks and comics evolved. Had you always wanted to combine writing with illustrating?
J.B: Oh, yes! Imaginative play was the foundation of my childhood. Action figures, running around in the ravines roleplaying, and reading comics were what nurtured me growing up. That sort of play evolved into games of “what if” and just built upon themselves until you were only making up your own stuff and no longer just copying things that you had already seen. For a long time, my artwork has been just glimpses into the stories that are in my head, or they have
been the explorations of figuring out the right stories. The storybooks and comics have just naturally evolved from single images, to a series of images, to a thread of images that are telling fuller stories.
TIX: In one of your blog posts, you talk about how the art on people’s walls says a lot about them. What does the art in your home say about you?
J.B: Oh, this is clever! I don’t have any of my own work up on the walls. I think that’s because I see them in my head all the time, so to have them on the walls would be redundant. Seventy percent of the art on my walls is that of my fellow art school friends, things we did in the final years of school. It takes me back to those days when we were learning and trying out so many new things. The other 20% is of artists I really admire. Their work is my own north star and reminds me of the path that I am on and the destination that path will take me. I suppose that’s true of all people—they have things up that say who they are or have been and want to be. The last 10% is of travel artifacts, visual journals that tell the adventures of where I have been.
TIX: In addition to buying artwork, how can people support artists and the art community?
J.B: Oh, by far, being an advocate is the most supportive way that people can support the arts community. The arts is what makes us human, without it we would be living in total utility. Living to just live is not much of a life. So to share the things that make you happy, what they mean to you, and demonstrate a life worth living is the best way for other people to see and appreciate the same things in life that you value.
TIX: What are you currently working on?
J.B: Currently I am working on completing a series of 12 Alberta landscape paintings, writing and development of a handful of storybook and graphic novel ideas, and a rotating list of commercial client projects.
Want more? Visit snowalligator.com and tixonthesquare.ca for the latest from Jason and other great artists.