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(Image: Jason Matias)
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Artist of the Week: Jason Matias

Seattle might be notorious for niche coffee shops and scenic waterways, but locals know it's also home to an array of people who love to create. This city is chock-full of artists who we love to feature weekly on Seattle Refined! If you have a local artist in mind that you would like to see featured, let us know at hello@seattlerefined.com. And if you're wondering just what constitutes art, that's the beauty of it; it's up to you!

Seattle Refined: How long have you been creating? Do you work with different mediums?
Jason Matias: I began photography as a hobby while stationed in North Pole, Alaska, in 2006. So, it's been 14 years of smashing shutter buttons for me. I started out with pencil and charcoal when I was young, but there was a long gap between putting those away in favor of school and picking up the camera after joining the military.

My portraits and landscapes are evolving into other mediums, such as mixed media and acrylic paints. I'm adding foil to some of my Aria's now. I also write, and I published my first book in June titled "NakedThoughts" (on Amazon). Does that count as an additional medium?

Can you tell us about your artistic process and how the different stages work into it?
Much of my landscape photography revolves around a central theme that I call "Comfortable Isolation." While I enjoy creating "good" photographs, when I shoot for my portfolio, I plan my compositions around this idea. That process looks like large/wide format scenes with a central focus element. Planning these involves a lot of location research and lots of absorbing inspiration until an idea clicks.

My Aria collection is all based on music and truths found in relationships. For some, I started with an idea I wanted to convey and then searched for the model and the song to suit it best. I also have songs/musical compositions that really struck home for me and are sitting in queue waiting for the right idea to pair to it. Then I go and create it.

Can you tell us where your inspiration for your art comes from?
Deep down, it all stems from my response to sexual abuse as a child. I built a wall between myself and the rest of the world. I matured in a mental environment in which I could not trust my own thoughts/feelings. I felt isolated and, until I found art, I had not even tried to climb my way out from behind the walls I erected. In isolation, I learned how invaluable it is to confront your demons, to converse with your ego, and to reach for higher plains within yourself through understanding. Now, outside of the shell, I recognize so many people avoiding their inner personas — personal demons who were once my only company for a long, long time. I strive to create images of "comfortable isolation" to invite the viewer into a space, away from the chaotic world of easy distraction, where they can confront their inner voices, grow from their debates, and strive for those higher plains of existence that are built on the knowledge of one's self.

Do you have a specific "beat" you like best - nature, food, profiles, etc.?
I think I have a feeling or emotion that I follow. I develop that emotion into different derivatives of photography. Mostly nature and portrait work but within the bounds of a very specific vein. I find nature photography "easier" and less pressure in creating it. I find creating work with a model and team to be very stressful.

Do you have one piece that means more to you, or is extremely special to you?
Edge of Solace. Edge of Solace is a landscape photograph but also a dreamscape or creation. I created it here in Washington from photographs captured on Lake Washington and the coast. It was a three-year project. It began with an idea, an isolated dock on an infinite horizon, then involved searching for and capturing the perfect elements in the perfect light. Then, finally putting it all together. Edge of Solace is the strongest representation of Comfortable Isolation that I have created to date.

What experiences in your life have affected your art the most?
I think my apparent black-listing from conventional employment has had the most effect on my art career. I am a USAF veteran, I have a master's degree in organizational leadership, and I have a PMP. Yet, between 2011 and 2015, while I was still trying to get full-time employment in my field, I could not land a job. I couldn't even get a job as a dishwasher, I tried. While doing all that, I was building my art business, and eventually, the economic need for a "real job" didn't exist anymore. Some people will say that this career was fate, but I think it is the result of a failure of the system. Thankfully, I found my own path through the maze.

If we want to see more of your work, where should we go to find it?
The first place would be my website, www.jasonmatias.com. You can also find my TED Talk, Beautiful Things That Are Gone, on TEDx's youtube channel. I have an art show going in Southampton, New York, right now (July to October 2020), where you can see some of my work in person. Lastly, I do a lot of home consultations where I bring a piece of art or two to a collector's home as an example and help them choose the perfect piece for their space.

What's next for you? Anything you're working on right now that you're really excited about?
I have a few Arias planned that I would really like to accomplish this year. I'm slow to create new pieces in this collection, and I think it's time I really step out of that paradigm. I also want to create a large, collectible book — something like a tome. I mean large. 18" tall and 30" wide and 40 pounds of beautiful, hand-bound artwork in a leather cover.

Lastly, how do you take your coffee? We ask everyone!
I like a Big Train! I know, probably not very Seattle of me, but coffee is a drink I'm still acquiring a taste for. I don't drink it regularly, and it's the one addiction I wish I could get on-trend with. My mornings would be so much easier!

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