Jake Lee / Printmaking

Jake Lee, Watkins Community Education Instructor

What’s your ritual to get prepared, or in the zone, to create?

I think one of the best lessons I learned working in a shared studio was never to wait until I was in the “zone” to begin working. I believe that work makes work, and that is where the flow is. For me, I find my groove after a half-hour alone in the studio. Taking my mind out of art-making and allowing my hands to work unencumbered is really the only way I get anything done. Deconstructing my ideas of art-making as a mystical process really helped me make more, and better, artwork.

What experience would you like to have that you haven’t yet?

I will not die without having seen the Northern Lights. This is the promise I’ve made to myself, now public.

If you weren’t an artist, what would you do professionally?

I’m currently straddling a few professions. I work full-time as an event planner for Walk Bike Nashville, a non-profit. I also have a huge passion for cycling in general and work at a local bike shop on weekends to feed my fix. My art career is largely centered on teaching right now, and I definitely see that blossoming in the future.

Artists need to stand taller and be louder. We imagine new possibilities which allows people to reconsider the way things are.

What advice do you most often give yourself or others?

I always try and keep perspective. Some of my art is about understanding my tiny little existence in this universe. We spend so much time toiling on things that only exist in our heads, or only for a brief moment in time. I encourage people to keep everything in our lives in perspective, lest we spend our lives with heads down, never to appreciate a starry night sky.

What is the most underrated virtue in our world today?

We need to appreciate compassion. Real compassion. The kind that allows you to see a person behind their appearance and know that we are mostly the same, and that our intentions are good.

What one problem in the world would you like more focus to be cast?

The climate. It’s the only bubble we’ve got, people!

Biggest myth about being an artist?

Being an artist isn’t always fun, it isn’t always inspiring, it isn’t always creative. We answer emails, too.

What does the world most need from artists?

I think artists need to stand taller and be louder. The place of artists is to recognize things in our world and present them in a new way. We imagine new possibilities which allow people to reconsider the way things are. I feel like artists and art are integral in our society as catalysts for culture-change, and for freedom of ideas. We are fortunate that the boundaries extend so vastly, you can get away with anything in art! We need to make waves, challenge standards and assumed truths, and continue to produce works of art (and encourage others also), so that we may feed the nature of our curiosities and break down perceived walls of what’s possible.

Jake Lee teaches introductory and intermediate level classes in printmaking for Watkins’s Community Education program, focusing on reduction printing with linoleum and screenprinting. He graduated from Vanderbilt University in 2016 with a BA in Fine Art and a focus in print. He is a daily bike commuter who rides a purple bike dubbed the “Possum Buggy” and is an event planner for local non-profit Walk Bike Nashville.