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© 2003
Center for Black Studies
Updated

William Jones
Visiting Researcher

“DIPO PUBERTY FESTIVAL”
Rites of Passage ceremony for
Krobo children in Somanya and Odumase,
Eastern region, Ghana, West Africa
art, photography, digital media by William Jones

BIOGRAPHY /
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ETHNOGRAPHIC
EXPERIENCES>


TOOLS AND
TECHNIQUES>


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TOOLS AND TECHNIQUES

Tools

My approach to art is shaped by my ideas, travel, and years of study as an artist, as well as experience in commercial art as a graphic designer and photographer. My training in fine art is as an illustrator and digital artist.

In addition to pencils, markers, and chalk pastels, the tools I use to realize my creative vision include a 35 mm camera, a computer, and specialized printing techniques using inks, dyes, and paper. I used to draw all the time, using whatever was at hand. I started blending art and technology when I reached high school. The High School of Art and Design was my first formal instruction in commercial art. While there, I learned about using different mediums and tools for different special effects. At the Kansas City Art Institute, I honed my skills as both a graphic designer and an illustrator.

Developing discipline as an illustrator meant creating graphics by hand, not relying on the computer. As technology developed, I used the computer merely as a tool in the printing process. Having a double major was grueling work, but it gave me the vision to look at and solve creative problems as both a technical and manual artist. Pratt Institute gave me the businesses background to develop methods and strategies for managing and marketing each work as a project.

Once I graduated, I began teaching art. I also started combining the mediums of graphic design and illustration, mixing the media and experimenting to see what worked and what did not. This excited me because discovering what media are compatible can lead to new—and often unexpected—outcomes.

Mixing mediums allows me maximum versatility, giving me multiple effects for creating and expressing whatever I imagine. The concept behind my art is a fusion of traditional African cultural imagery and illustration with contemporary American
digital new media art and printing technology.

Techniques

When I began traveling, I wanted to document my unique experiences. I started with taking notes and doing sketches, and taught myself photography as a method of capturing a moment in time. I use my own photos to ensure that I get the images I want as reference materials. By personally traveling to the site of an event, I experience all of the sensations that I can. The photos become a record of what actually transpired and also bring back memories of the event. The challenge is to recreate on paper the feelings, sights, sounds, and energy through my imagination.

I draw and sketch out on paper what I visualize. Using the photos as reference, I illustrate on top of the drawings from the photos using inks and dyes. I choose different art effects for each image, depending on the elements that made a particular event outstanding. The enhancements make the image I create singular and deeply personal as well. I know what emotional result I want to acheive based on my own memories of the experience. There is no formula because every experience is unique. The computer allows me to add digital impact. The mixed-media image is then digitally printed to ensure the vividness of the final piece.

My art allows me to experience each event as an eyewitness, as an artist/creator, and finally as a viewer of the finished artwork.