October 10, 2019 Artist to Watch: Jonathan Brown
artistically known as "Skinny Dope"
Jonathan Brown is a New Orleans native, now residing in Baton Rouge. He learned to draw as a toddler under the teachings of his mother Fannie Brown, who is now an art teacher in the Baton Rouge area. Around his middle school years, he would draw different graffiti styled drawings on the backs of student's I.D.'s earning a dollar for each drawing. This is where he would experience his earliest forms of selling art.
During his high school years, Brown would begin learning to paint under the teachings of renown New Orleans artist Terrance Osborne after attending one of Osborne's art shows with his mother. It was then where he found his love for painting which would later on, lead to him painting a banner for the JAG (Job's for American Graduates) Program. The banner was chosen as the winning banner, which led to Brown participating in an art showing of the banners at the Old Governor's Mansion in Baton Rouge, and also led to him selling his first canvas piece.
After high school, Brown and his family would move to Baton Rouge where he attended Southern University for a short time period. He decided to take a different route, and pursued a career in tattooing instead. While tattooing professionally, and selling art on the side, after about six years, he would eventually team up with "The Walls Project" and begin doing murals all around the Baton Rouge area. The Great Flood of Baton Rouge came later on that year and everything in Brown's house was destroyed, except for all of his paintings that his wife insisted that he put up in the attic right before disaster struck. It was this incident that led Brown to fully pursue a career in painting and mural art. Since then, Brown has been in numerous art events and has many murals around the Baton Rouge area. His most recent mural can be seen at Raising Cane’s River Center!
Were you an artsy kid, and what got you started in painting?
Yes, I was an artsy kid and I would draw all of the time. I learned to draw at the age of 1 and it just stuck. I would even draw all over my tests at school and would get in trouble for it.
How did you learn your craft? I learned to draw from my mother, because she is an artist. She would draw with me and would take me to art camp in the summer where I would play around with different art forms. After that, I learned to paint under the guidance of Terrance Osborne.
Why painting and not other art disciplines?
I actually play around with a couple of different art disciplines. Before painting became my primary discipline, would mainly do colored pencil drawings. I think that my paintings receive the biggest responses of all of my artwork, and it was also the first discipline that I had an interest in mastering along with spray painting. I think that I chose painting because it didn't come easy, but it gave also me the most enjoyable experience.
What other artist or people are you inspired by?
I am extremely inspired by my mentor, Terrance Osborne. He is actually my favorite artist, so it's amazing that he is also my good friend and mentor. I am also highly inspired by the musician Pharrell Williams.
How do you feel about the arts opportunities in Baton Rouge? How long have your been a Baton Rouge Arts Market artist? Explain your journey as a Baton Rouge Arts Market artist and your experiences.
The arts opportunities in Baton Rouge are amazing and none of this would be possible without those opportunities. The ArtsMarket played a huge role in how I learned to interact with the public and the first art festival that I ever got into was the "Ebb and Flow Festival"! The Arts Market was awesome for me as a new artist on the scene and I would recommend it to any artist that wants to start selling their art. The vendors really helped me with different ways of displaying my art and the feedback that I received from the public really helped me out.
How long did the whole process of the downtown mural in Raising Cane’s River Center take to complete?
The new mural in the River Center took about 3 weeks to complete. I worked about 3 days out of the week, and usually around 8 hours a day.
What do you want people to take from the mural?
From this mural, I want people to take a sense of the diversity of Baton Rouge, and to enjoy being in the moment. I also want people to take fun pictures and to creative wonderful memories.
What would you tell someone that is thinking about starting a professional career as an artist?
To anyone that is looking to start a professional career as an artist, I would say that all of the cliche things are just that, because they are the truth. Follow your heart, and believe in yourself. I couldn't have gotten to this point without actually thinking that it was possible, which is what kept me going. Also, don't force it. If you are on the right path, the universe gives you the pieces of the puzzle, you just have to use your energy putting those pieces together. Do it because you enjoy it and everything else will fall into place!
What are your plans this fall?
This fall I will be teaming up with Baton Rouge Green on November 15th at Goodwood Library. I will also be creating another mural with the River Center, preparing for my first solo show, and celebrating my 1 year wedding anniversary with my wife!
Where can people see your work online and in person?
People can see a majority of work on my instagram ( @skinnydope_ ) and on my website ( http://www.skinnydope.com) !