This work is a contrary artistic response in process, content, and intent, to my years of working in a highly structured environment of narrative figurative commercial illustration as a professional illustrator specializing in information design. In the illustration process, the work is to create a visual that solves a client’s marketing communication problem. One seeks to understand what message the client is trying to convey, to what audience, to what effect?
An illustration solution is visualized through multiple concept sketches that identify all necessary elements of a solution, reviewed, and a direction selected. Further efforts are focused on refining that idea to full expression as a final illustration. There may be 2–4 more rounds of development and refinement including input at each stage from the client side and art director as well as other members of a creative and production team. One is working to solve a communication problem to a clients’ satisfaction and one must collaborate as a team member.
In contrast, the artworks here are an expression of my own ideas, aesthetic, and decisions. I work intuitively rather than analytically. I do not start with a sketch or a preconceived vision of the final piece, preferring to let spontaneous decision, temperament, happenstance, and discovery guide the work to a complete point. I just start working, choosing elements that interest me at the moment for their visual qualities. I’m continually experimenting, adding, subtracting, and manipulating elements throughout the process. Here, a work is complete when it “feels” finished to me.
The intent of this art is to create purely visual abstractions that do not use narrative or symbolism. There is no other conscious intent at “meaning” in the compositions other than to manipulate line, shape, color, texture, and value to discover and create unique engaging visuals.
My work process utilizes a visual library of my own image sources created from my traditional and digital drawing and painting, photography, and digital scans. I combine and manipulate these sources with several digital image software tools to create the compositions. The medium for the art object is limited edition archival inkjet prints on paper.
Having used both traditional and digital drawing and painting software in creating my illustration work, I feel comfortable continuing to work this way. The beauty of digital software is how quickly one can try different elements; moving, sizing, altering, and maintaining files of variations. This encourages and facilitates my spontaneity and experimentation.
Born in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, America, Jeff Alan West is an emerging artist creating abstract 2D art in digital media, painting, and drawing. He thrives living near and surfing in the Pacific Ocean in Aptos, California, a beach community to Silicon Valley.
After graduating with a Masters of Art in Art–Sculpture from San Jose State University in 1979, he became an early adopter of digital image software while working as a production artist and graphic designer at Apple Computer Creative Services and Adobe starting in 1983. Early group fine art exhibits include venues such as the San Jose Museum of Art, the Triton Museum of Art, and a solo exhibit at the precursor to the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, Artvarks.
In 1987, inspired by a lecture of Richard Saul Wurman, founder of the TED conferences, he became a professional freelance illustrator using digital drawing software and specializing in the new discipline of information illustration and design. He has enjoyed a successful 29-year career. Clients include the Fortune 500 and international companies as well as Silicon Valley start-ups. His work was included in the Digital Salon Exhibit at the Society of Illustrators in New York. He has received industry recognition for his illustrations including The Black Book AR100, Graphis Diagrams, Print Regional Design Annual, and the Society of Publication Designers.
He also taught Digital Media as a full-time Professor of Art at Merced Community College of Merced, California from 2006–09.
Jeff Alan West has now returned his focus and energy to his fine art ideas, creating images that are abstractions rather than representational imagery. He continues to use digital painting and drawing software as well as traditional media and techniques in his work process.