Loose and refined in all of the right places with images effortlessly flowing across collaged surfaces, these are just some of the primary features that drew me towards the work of Jodi Cachia. She’s another artist I discovered at an art market and when I first came across her work I was fascinated by the way she built and manipulated surface. I was also intrigued by the diversity of imagery that could exist on those surfaces and still fit her style. Cachia’s work surfaces are layered levels of material, often a light beige tone, that are cut, torn, and folded before being layered together. The way that she builds up the surfaces of her work adds so much depth and minor detail to the final piece before an image is even present. The imagery then adds on to this as she effortlessly blends the surfaces together by cleanly illustrating across them. She organizes the chaos of her collage by allowing images to smooth out the broken plains, or by adding an element that creates a more deliberate interaction between them. With all of the different things that her imagery does, it’s no surprise that she has a range of image styles. Sometimes working in clean, lifelike illustration and other times allowing things to be gestural and loose, her imagery is always effective. There’s also a variety of detail elements that she uses to aid the primary image; some lifelike illustration, some whimsical, and some hard geometry. All of these elements accumulate to form a detailed, chaotic yet controlled final image with a ton to take in.
Cachia’s work really stood out to me as there was just so much going on but it all seemed so controlled. So obviously I had to hear more about it and I was thrilled to get to hear the background and processes behind her work. She gave a great, really detailed interview that I’m sure will spark your interest in her work as she sparked mine. Enjoy!
1. I always start way back at the beginning, so what got you started in art? Any schooling? Big Inspirations? What helped shape you into the artist that you are today?
I can’t remember a time that I wasn’t interested in art. I have some very early memories of keeping little drawings in my toy box, and one time “rendering" this silly bowling trophy my mom had won - I thought it looked exactly like it! Growing up I guess I just enjoyed making art. I remember winning some kind of award around 5th grade… painting and drawing always appealed to me. In high school I was lucky enough to have a really serious teacher for art major. Until then a lot of kids took art class just to have a period to slack off. This guy taught at a college level and made it known on day one that he’d have you working! I still look back at that time as one of the most productive in my life. At one point I was going to quit that class to take a much less demanding screen printing one - simply because I was a lazy high school kid. He got wind of it and took me aside. He told me I was better than that, not to take the easy way out, that I had talent and should stick with it. That made a big impact on me. The next year I continued that class and doubled up on the printing class to complete 2 years in one. As far as influence - I don’t really recall having any. I mean, I think an artist is influenced by everything around them, but I don’t recall being crazy about any one person’s artwork. That seems weird now that I think about it! I did love flipping through the poster racks at the mall and would always check for new Iron Maiden ones. I loved the band (still do!) but was also obsessed with the Eddie character and seeing him portrayed in the artwork. I also thought it was super cool how the band’s symbol always appeared somewhere in the image… which turns out wasn’t the band’s symbol at all, but rather the artist’s signature - which now I think is even cooler. Linear symbols were appearing in my work from time to time before I even realized it… I’ve come to think of them as visual representations of various energies - but maybe that symbol planted something in my brain way back then :)
2. There's a very refined and a looser side to your style, but the imagery is always somewhat macabre in nature. What did or what does inspire the imagery that you use? What or who were some of the big influences in the styles that you depict said imagery?
I’d say it’s a combination of things… I’ve always had a thing for vultures and was drawing them for a bit, then at some point switched over to crows. At that point I became infatuated with their feather patterns. At the same time I was doing some printmaking which lead me to start manipulating paper. Once I lost access to a press I kept drawing crows and continued to alter paper and started experimenting with collage… it was about that time I felt something click and I felt myself developing a style. For me aesthetic is mostly about mood. I guess I felt the subject matter and the overall mood starting to match up. Both of those things are derived from my personal likes. Crows are just a small part of my interest in animals, nature, energies, and how we relate to them. Music is a big part of my life and the mood it inspires is it’s greatest gift I think. Various styles of dark or heavy music have always been what resonates with me, so I suppose that’s just what’s bound to come out visually. I find more depth in these moods than say, happiness. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a happy person, but when we’re happy, things are easy. More sullen moods bring about contemplation, making an effort to find solutions. Sadness inspires reflection, makes you search for the positive. The process of making art is one of answering questions - starting with nothing, conjuring an idea, figuring out what to make of that idea... I don’t make art for the purpose of working through my emotions, but I can’t deny the similarities between the journeys, and maybe there is some subconscious stuff working itself out as I go. What I do know for sure is just like hearing a heavy riff hits me deep inside and ultimately brings me tremendous joy, so does completing a piece of art that conjures a similar feeling of satisfaction.
3. I'm curious how you lay out a piece, there's a lot going on in your work so where does each piece begin? Are you rigorously laying things out or is your process just a go-with-the-flow situation?
It depends on the piece. I’m mostly working in 2 different processes these days. If I’m working in pen and ink, I at least layout the main areas before the pen hits the paper. This medium isn’t forgiving - at least not the way I’m working. For those pieces I will collage the background, shoot a pic of it and print out a bunch of copies. I sketch on those to come up with the layout. This is often a chance for the background to kind of tell me what wants to live there. When I go into it with ink, the strokes are very deliberate and it can get pretty stressful wanting every one to be perfect. At one point I got burnt out on it, which is when I switched to a more abstract style. I needed to loosen up - work more organically. This process is still based on manipulating the materials - just in a different way. Instead of planning ahead, they speak to me as I go. I like using materials that don’t typically go together. That’s something I like in life too - take these things that don’t belong, stick em together, make something even better! It creates a give and take and it’s my job to keep pushing back and fourth until they live happily together. I get something out of both processes. Now I take turns between the two ways of working when I feel I need change.
4. Further, there's a very interesting layering of colors, shapes, mediums, and materials in your work. So how do you decide the layout or use of materials in your piece? Is everything a set hierarchy where you use one element at a time or are you surrounded by everything you use in the piece and layering it according to how you think it will help each step along the way? Does it vary?
I guess I inadvertently started to get into this in the last answer! I always start out with paper, but after that it’s anyone’s guess. Charcoal often comes next, but I have that, acrylic, watercolor, pens and pencils all around, ready for the grabbing. I’d say I tend to work the surface with one material until it feels like it’s ready for the next, but I switch between them frequently. I’m mostly working intuitively when I’m creating a piece that mixes a bunch of media.
5. Your work crosses over to a lot of different materials/products (bags, pillows, etc.). Are the works featured on these products designed specifically for said products? Does something potentially becoming a product alter your making process at all? if so how?
Most of the time the products are an afterthought. When I started selling my work at markets and events I quickly got the idea that I wanted to offer more than just prints and originals. It seemed to me that a lot of people appreciate art but need it to have a separate function in order to justify spending money on it - so I started looking for products that would compliment my existing work. Since then I never start a new piece thinking, what can I make that will look good on a tote bag? I just look at my shop once in a while and think about what I could add to it. The exception to this are the designs I’ve made for screen printing. I’m slowly building a clothing line called All Creatures Created Equal (third design is currently printing as a zip-up hoodie :) Those are designed specifically with the product in mind.
6. Finally, PLUGS! Where can people find your work? Any shows coming up? Anything you'd like to share and anywhere people can find you, let it rip!
One of my goals this year is to exhibit in some new towns. There’s a really awesome traveling expo called The Oddities & Curiosities Expo that I’ll be showing at in several cities - Indianapolis in April, Columbus in May, Detroit in July, Chicago in August, Richmond in November. I’m also creating a piece for a show in Long Beach, CA this October at the Dark Art Emporium fine art gallery - I’m super excited about this as they show great work, and I know the person curating this show, Buddy Nestor, has invited some really awesome artists to participate. In my hometown, I’ll be at the Philadelphia Oddities Market in March, as well as the Darksome Art & Craft Market in April. More events will definitely be booked as time goes by. I post regularly on Instagram @jodicachia and list events on Facebook.com/jodicachia and my online shop is always open at jodicachia.com - where there is also lots of other stuff to peek at :)