HAWAII'S ONLY WEEKLY FILIPINO-AMERICAN NEWSPAPER
SERVING THE FILIPINO COMMUNITY SINCE 1993
JUNE 2, 2018
Q & A

Jager Palad: A Career Making Art Has No Rulebook

by HFC Staff

Artist Jager Palad, along with Nicole Dikon, recently had their work displayed in an exhibition at the popular Downtown coffee spot Brue Bar. The exhibit, called “Paper Thin,” focused on the materiality of paper as it relates to printmaking, painting and collage. Palad agreed to a Q&A with the Filipino Chronicle in which he eloquently talks about his art, his life as an artist, and art as an expression found all around us, not just visual art displayed at select venue-spaces. Palad was born in Baltimore,

Maryland, raised in South Florida, and recently moved to Hawaii. He studied printmaking, painting, and drawing at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. He is a member of the Honolulu Printmakers and has a studio space, Kaka’ako at Lana Lane Studios.

HFC: Congratulations on your exhibit at Brue Bar. How did that come about? How is it going?

PALAD: Thank you! I was approached, along with Nicole Dikon who is part of the show, by Duncan Dempster of the Honolulu Printmakers. They have a history of exhibitions at Brue Bar.

HFC: How do artists get their work exhibited?

PALAD: Any way they can! Most of it is research, seeing which businesses or spaces are interested in having exhibitions and approaching them in some way to see if they are interested in what the artist has to say and show. Sometimes, less often, the artist is asked to do a show, in which networking and marketing beforehand really pays off.

HFC: Art and marketing go hand-in-hand to make it in the industry. To succeed, how much of it is talent and how much is marketing/networking?

PALAD: Equal amounts, I believe. Creating the work and making sure it has quality is essential, but the ability and drive to get it out there and have it be seen is just as important, and the root of that is being able and willing to speak eloquently about the work. You have to be willing to work with people and learn about those around you or else the work begins to suffer.

HFC: Can you describe your art style?

PALAD: In a way, yes. Style of one’s work is a tricky thing. It used to be a way to distinguish a kind of belonging between groups, such as realistic and abstract, and in the past the lines were clear. Nowadays, especially with social media that allows anyone to be influenced by anything instantaneously, the lines become blurred. My work at the Brue Bar is definitely considered abstract, salvaged, even somewhat urban, but a few pieces also point to surreal and representational. I think the greatest part of discussing style is how many titles you can pile up in the conversation.

HFC: What is your art saying to audiences? What do you try to convey through your art?

PALAD: The current work at Brue Bar, Paper Thin, is a show designed by myself and Nicole Dikon to specifically bring attention to all the possibilities of work on paper. We both want the viewer to see there is no rulebook to making quality work, that a tear, fold or cutout can be equally as important as a line or color. Essentially, the root is rebelliousness. In order to have artwork that means something, one must be willing to question all the preconceptions and face the answers; only then can things be original, honest, and real.

HFC: Tell us about your art training and background.

PALAD: I began creating artwork in my sophomore year of college at University of Central Florida. Before that, I played music, specializing in percussion. I found that making artwork was, for me, an evolution, in that I made visual art the same way I played the drums. Once I graduated, I moved to Tupelo, Mississippi where a former professor of mine and master printmaker, painter and sculptor by the name of Ke Francis had a printing studio called Hoopsnake Press. I made my work beside him for a couple years before moving to Honolulu.

HFC: What is your personal goal as an artist?

PALAD: To keep making and showing! Making a career out of making art has no rulebook, so it makes it somewhat difficult or even counterintuitive to have strict goals. Any goal I manage to achieve won’t ever stop me from continuing to do exactly what I’m doing now.

HFC: Describe Hawaii’s art scene.

PALAD: I honestly don’t feel I have put in enough time on the island to answer that. I think one has to be living and doing shows for at least a few years before having a tangible feel on the pulse of things, and I have only been here for the past 8 months. I do know there are disadvantages in being so far away from the continent, but there are also so many passionate artists and art enthusiasts here that it is never boring. I have been here for Contact, an exhibit focusing on the reality of this land in relation to the power dynamics of its history. I have been here for Pow Wow, a mural movement focusing on beautifying the streets to challenge the assumption of gallery art. I have been here for the print show at the Honolulu Museum of Art School which combined contemporary approaches to traditional methods of printmaking… I think contemplating these events gives one an idea of Hawaii’s art scene.

HFC: Why do you pursue art? What does art mean to you?

PALAD: Because I believe in it! I believe in the power of visual art, and that truth and quality in life is revealed through artwork.

HFC: Artists are known to hold other jobs/careers in addition to doing their art. How do you reconcile the two: leaving time to practical pursuits that pay the bills and living out your passion as an artist?

PALAD: I don’t really believe I have a passion for making my work anymore; it is much more than that. I couldn’t stop if I tried, and I don’t wait for inspiration. There is something about creating work that needs to happen in my life, alongside eating and drinking. Because of that, there isn’t any difficulty in finding time to make work, because I’m always willing to make time. As far as other jobs to “pay the bills,” I have enough experience in that I have little difficulty in getting by. I think my work ethic for art spawned out of working odd jobs at least part time since I was around 15 years old. I’ve worked in every job you can think of in a restaurant, building and fixing bicycles as a mechanic, stocked shelves in a plethora of department stores, worked in special events, driven in a taxi service, landscaped, been a construction worker. Anytime I need a job to make things easier, I always approach it with a good attitude and an eagerness to learn a new thing. Ironically, the more I work, the more artwork I find myself making, as if one feeds off the other.

HFC: How is art changing the world?

PALAD: Art is the world, and change is the only constant. Even speaking outside the boundaries of visual art, anytime you see someone starting a new business, a new invention, a movement, chances are it has roots in some kind of truth or quality that is akin to what art is. The same person who sees something in a print or painting that makes them stop and stare, tomorrow will find the courage to do something they wouldn’t have otherwise.

HFC: Currently, what are the most popular styles of art?

PALAD: I think that depends on where you are. I do think there is a strong vitality to art dealing with social issues at the moment, with what is happening in the world and in this country.

HFC: Which artist inspired you the most?

PALAD: What a difficult question! I don’t think there was a single artist that inspired the most, because every artist has their own thing they bring to the table that makes you want to seek out other artists. Some of my contemporary favorites are Mark Bradford, Leonardo Drew, Wangechi Mutu, Banksy, Dieter Roth, and Barbara Kruger while some older favorites are Leonardo Da Vinci and Francisco de Goya.

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