The Kingdom Hearts fan reveals how there's always a message about America behind his hyper polygon visuals - and how he already knows he's the best animator out there.
Welcome to Pictoplasma, character design festival.
Your mission is to impress audiences with your art work - and survive an interview with UK art and design website 'Digital Arts.'
Mission Uno - select a character from the character art world. Options are:
- Julian Glander, 28, a Blender-loving 3D artist who's recently worked with AI for his own video game.
- Jeron Braxton, 24, a Blender-loving 3D artist who mixes political subtexts, dance beats and Playstation aesthetics in one hyper-stimulative package.He has also made his own video game called 'Pornstopper', which revolves around a flying wolf boss who has to get his workers to stop ogling porn on their computer and-
- You have chosen JERON BRAXTON. Good luck, and remember to impress.
Giacomo Lee: Hi Jeron - have you shown off Pornstopper before?
Jeron Braxton: "No, this is the first time I've shown it. It's unfinished but at a good point to show it, I think. It's a difficult concept but now it's like a proper game.
"I don't know how Pictoplasma heard about it. I may have mentioned it at one of my talks but they just really insisted that I show it here and I still don't think it's ready but they really insisted. So I was like all right, whatever, we can just get it presentable. It's probably not gonna be properly done for another few months."
GL: The game is fun like all of your art, but there's usually a political message across your work.
JB: "Well my next short Oxytocin, it's mantra is 'all is fair in love and war.' It's discussing ideas of sexuality, race and war. How the underworld and the black market are closely related to the over-world and politics."
GL: Is it important for you to give a political message?
JB: "There's a lot of points of entry and I try to make something that is first off visually captivating. But then I also try to find something that's conceptually bigger. The work that I appreciate the most, like Kehinde Wiley's, tends to have a message."
GL: How long have you been making art professionally?
JB: "Probably since 2016. That's when I first started getting paid for it.
"I didn't do art school. I went to school and I was studying computers, computer information stuff and luckily my animation career starting popping off before I even graduated."
GL: People say your work has a Playstation 1 aesthetic, would you agree?
JB: "Yeah I kind of go to the polygon video game aesthetic."
GL: What were your favourite games were when you were growing up?
JB: "My favourite games were Spyro, Crash Bandicoot 2, Tekken 3. Kingdom Hearts 2 is probably my favorite game of all time."
GL: And who have been your artistic inspirations since the beginning?
JB: "Kehinde Wiley, Kerry James Marshall, Masaaki Yuasa, Katsuhiro Otomo. My favourite artist of all time is Takashi Murakami."
GL: Takashi Murakami has a long history with the music scene, which I wrote about recently. You make amazing music for all of your video work, so I'm wondering if you see yourself as a visual artist primarily or something broader?
JB: "I see myself more as an artist and my visual career has taken me the furthest so far. But it just depends on how I feel. I work on music until I'm burnt out from music and then I work on animation until I'm burnt out on animation and so on."
GL: Who are your musical influences?
JB: "My favorite musician is Flying Lotus. Also, my dad's a musician so I grew up around that. He played music in church, so gospel music was always around. R & B and stuff like that.
"I also like Tyler the Creator and Sophie."
GL: You'll be talking at Pictoplasma tomorrow, so do you enjoy discussing your work for audiences?
JB: "I like showing my work. I've yet to really go viral or get mainstream acclaim, so I feel like my work is still largely underappreciated.
"Even though I know I'm putting out some of the best work in the world, it's not getting like millions of views, you know what I'm saying?"
GL: How important are view counts though?
JB: "It's hard not to care about that in this day and age. But the thing is, everything I do is very timeless and powerful. And sometimes it takes some time for people to really get into it.
"There's so much going on in my work. There's a lot of messaging I put into it and it goes over people's heads so I'll be exploring that in my talk.
"There was a video I made probably three or four years ago called You Can (below) and I barely got any views. But it was a really amazing video, and recently a gallery in New York saw it and they wanted to give me a solo show centered just around that one video.
"So that's why I like to give talks - because you never know who might see it and who might share it."
GL: Will you be showing any new work at the talk, besides Pornstopper?
JB: "I've made this show for FX+ called Mauris. It's a parody of this terrible American dating show called The Maury Show. It tended to exploit black people, so my animation is about the industry exploiting black and poor people.
"It's five episodes long, which might be aired in the summer. It's really wild comedy, very narrative-driven but still in my style."
(Update October 2019: The show is aired now under the title of 'Daytime Noir').
GL: Will a European audience like Pictoplasma understand the cultural reference?
JB: "I don't think it will be well received because it's talking about a specific American issue. But it's okay. Right now my whole thing is trying to be the best in my hometown and then become the best in my region, my state. And right now I'm trying to be the best in my country. And from the country go and be the best in the world."
GL: Wow. Is that a lot of pressure? Do you wake up every day feeling that pressure to be the best?
JB: "Yeah I feel pressure. A lot of it is like jealousy and seeing other artists who are just like in my opinion, talentless ass-hats. And you know their work has no backbone or whatever. And then it's like 'Ahhh that should be me though.' It makes me just want to grind more or whatever.
"I don't want to hold grudges or hate, you know what I'm saying. It's more of just kind of like an internal itch, an insatiable hunger."
GL: Have you had that since you were a kid?
JB: "Yeah. I've always wanted to be the best. I know it's really not a competition but it's just fun to go to festivals, win awards and go home. One day I'll reach my goal and I'll be like 'Wow, I'm finally the best in the world.'
"I talk really big, like usually in a lot of interviews. And usually if people ask me what I do, I say 'I'm the best animator in the world.' And then people are like 'Oh wow, well let me see some stuff.' And you really can't talk that big without actually showing for it. So I talk big, have high expectations so then people are like 'we'd like to see that. Hit me up when you win your Oscar.' And that pushes me to further so I can show them that Oscar.
"Really, I just hope everybody feels like they're the best."
GL: How do you relieve that pressure before you go to bed? Porn?
JB: "Usually when I complete a really nice project, I feel really proud of myself. And now I'm at a point where I'm really proud of my work and it's more about me just finding the time to create."
GL: No porn? Okay, whatever Jeron.
LEVEL 1 COMPLETE.