This Friday, November 16th, California artist Justin White will finally be receiving his very first solo exhibit at the world renowned, Los Angeles-based, pop-culture-centric Gallery 1988‘s Melrose location. In the press release, the gallery predicts that it will “no doubt be one of the most surprising debuts of the year,” while making the statement that, “You may not know Justin White’s name yet, but come this Friday, he will make sure you do.” Some of us won’t be quite as surprised, however, because we’ve actually been watching Justin‘s career unfold for quite a few years, by this point. This may be his first real solo show, but White has showcased his work with G1988 in the past, contributing some standout pieces to previous group exhibits, including one for last year’s Wet Hot American Summer-themed exhibit that was actually purchased by the subject, Paul Rudd, himself. So, while it’s true that Justin White may, in fact, become more of a household name by next week, he hasn’t been completely invisible in the art world and the consistency of the work that he’s crafted up until now hasn’t gone entirely unnoticed. For those of us who first discovered him through his work with Threadless, however, he might be slightly more recognizable under his pseudonym: Jublin.
When I moved to Seattle, 7 years ago, I didn’t have a very stable living situation. I crashed at a couple of places, but it was always short-lived. I eventually got a job working the graveyard shift as a night auditor at a hotel downtown, spending my nights chain-smoking, chasing crackheads out of the lobby, and using proxy servers to access internet content that we were being blocked from. It was around this time that I first discovered Threadless.com and, in turn, the art of Jublin (aka Justin White).
There was a design called “Flowers in the Attic” by an artist credited as JByron (Jason Byron Nelson ), which was being posted a lot around places like myspace, while being completely uncredited. By tracing it back to it’s origin, I discovered that it was a shirt from Threadless. That’s where I learned about the company, which welcomes submissions and chooses the winning designs based off of community voting. At the beginning of the company/concept, the winner would have their own design printed onto a shirt and receive a copy for themselves. Then the prize went up to $200 and, as the company grew, the winnings increased along with it. At this point, a winning design can bring in thousands of dollars in cash and prizes, not to mention the fact that there is additional payment to the artist for any reprints and random best of cash awards. As of today, Threadless has awarded over 6 million dollars to winning artists. I’d spend chunks of my time at work sifting through submissions and rating them from 1-5. It’s become somewhat of a standard model for a lot of T-shirt design companies/sites, but at the time, it was still incredibly innovative. But Threadless was a lot more forward thinking than even their simple voting format might suggest; they actually created one of the most amazing communities that I’ve ever seen on the web, before or since, and it wasn’t long before I found myself getting drawn into it.
Aside from insuring that those who designed the products were compensated fairly and kept in mind as the company got larger, or the fact that they had an amazing referral system set up ($3 in credit for every order and $1.50 for every photo uploaded wearing a product), they fostered an incredibly vibrant “blog forum,” which is impressively active 24hrs a day. Since I pretty much moved to this city with nothing, I took advantage of the referrals and hyperlinked the fuck out of everything that I possibly could. I ultimately purchased about 30 T-shirts (a new wardrobe) for myself and endless others for gifts, with nothing more than the hundreds of dollars worth of credit that I had accumulated. I had a reason to want to feed into that community and, as I benefited the company, there was also a benefit to me. Once I eventually found my way to the blog forum, there were human faces–or, at least, I’m assuming there were, behind all of the avatars–that gave me even more of a reason to want to lend my support as much as possible. The folks that ran the company even frequented the message board, engaged with the fanbase and would often away credits through there at times. The feedback that they received as a company was priceless and it was immediate, but most of the interactions were casual and not even necessarily directly company related. It’s surprising how supportive everyone was and there was–and still is, I imagine–a mixed bag of people, ages, artists (skills across the board), aspiring artists, employees, and those who were simply fans, from all around the world simply sharing ideas, knowledge, and interests with each other. Some forum members went on to work for the company. This is where I picked up a lot of information about basic html and various other skills that I now use on a day-to-day basis. The internet was still somewhat of a perplexing tool at the time for me and this was one of the first places that really helped me get a grasp on it. Once I started working on Monster Fresh, I sort of walked away from that community, because it would have remained far too time consuming. However, if I never spent so much time on there in those early days, I have to question if I would have ever even been able to start this site in the first place.
Jublin was a someone that I would encounter on that blog forum on a regular basis. These days, they are impossible to avoid, but back them, it was somewhat of a big deal to actually see someone wearing a Threadless shirt on the street. Even then, Justin had created one of the most successful designs yet with “Of the Dead” (zombies hadn’t played themselves out yet, back then). I think that it may have even been the very first one that I’d ever seen being worn by a real person. I wasn’t working with visual art as much at that time and I definitely wasn’t creating designs–I was working on other shit and the computers were still a fairly new medium for me–but it was clear what an impact having a supportive community of other designers and art enthusiasts had to have had on a burgeoning designer, not to mention the validation of actually getting printed through the site. But Justin White didn’t only get printed once, he got printed repeatedly and his work became more and more polished. At a young age, he was already becoming a relative force in the design community.
Likewise, other talent quickly rose to the top, such as Olly Moss and Mike Mitchell, who have both made noteworthy transitions into the fine art world. All three of these guys were already stars in the Threadless community years ago and it’s been great to watch them obtain greater visibility outside of it. In fact, both Olly and Mitchell have also formed a great relationship with G1988 through their contributions to themed group shows and have, subsequently, launched each of their own debut solo exhibits through the gallery, as well. These days Olly Moss prints are highly collectible pieces that can fetch quite a bit of loot and his Pop Cameos solo exhibit in Spring of last year, made a tremendous impact, blowing critics’ and fans’ minds alike. Mike Mitchell‘s “Just Like Us” solo show came earlier this year, but his “I’m With Coco” design in support of Conan O’Brien had already provided the artist with international recognition prior to that. Justin White is the next logical Threadless alum to work with the Los Angeles gallery to springboard his career even further into the public eye and, based on what we’ve seen, he was definitely up for the challenge.
White has really honed his approach, finding his voice in recent years, and his new show, “Rated G” follows the aesthetic that he’s been working with “creating fake animation cels for Saturday Morning Cartoons that should NEVER happen.” This is a massive exhibit with more than 30 individual pieces in total. The press release further states that “In addition to the original cels, he has also created 2 screenprints and some giclee prints of the imagery.” Subject-wise, he tackles classic horror films (The Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Thing, The Birds, Night of the Living Dead, The Shining), a couple of Dustin Hoffman flicks (Midnight Cowboy, The Graduate), a couple from Schwarzenegger (Kindergarten Cop, Conan the Barbarian), memorable indie film violence (Reservoir Dogs, Oldboy), 2 movies that have both been considered the worst of all time (The Room, Troll 2), drug related TV show mania (Breaking Bad, Jessie Spano on caffeine pills), and a ton more. As you’ll be able to see for yourself, this is a solid collection of work. Justin is definitely taking full advantage of his moment to showcase what he’s capable of and coming through with flying colors. We wish him luck, but we also know that he’s probably not gonna need it.
via press release:
This Friday night, from 7-10 PM we open Justin White’s genius debut solo exhibit, “Rated G,” an exhibit of fake animation cels depicting cartoons that should NEVER exist. By creating multi-layered originals, Justin has created a world where some of the least kid-friendly movies and TV shows have become gleeful and whimsical Saturday Morning cartoons. This show is undoubtedly one of the most impressive debuts in the history of G1988.
Check out the entire collection of images for the “Rated G” exhibit below the following event details…
G1988 Presents – “RATED G“
The debut solo exhibit by Justin White
Friday, November 16th
7020 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90038
Opening is ALL AGES w/NO COVER
Artist will be in attendance
Artwork will go on sale for those at the opening reception on Friday night.
Any pieces left over, will go online Saturday afternoon.
Exhibit will be on view until November 30th.
The gallery is open from 11am-6pm from Wednesday–Sunday.
[click any image to scroll through gallery]