People and Places
25/11/2020
IN CONVERSATION — Peninsula artist peaks on and off the board

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No, you’re not seeing double. Last month we spoke to Ben Ross and now we’ve caught up with his equally artistic twin brother Jake. Combining a digital medium with acrylic paints, Jake contrasts life and death through his beach-lovin’ cartoon skeletons. Kate Sears speaks to the 29-year-old mural artist, creative director and illustrator. 

You enjoy catching a wave or two and were once in the Royal Australian Navy. What do you get up to now when you’re not creating artworks?

Yeah, the navy life seems a lifetime ago, whereas if I sit down and think, it was only two-and-a-bit years ago I was in uniform. It’s crazy to think that I went from jumping out of helicopters, sailing on boats and working in a team to surfing every morning and painting until the sun sets, then drawing until I feel tired. It’s such a gnarly change and was very hard for me to adjust. 

When did your passion for art emerge and how did you reach the calibre you’re at now? 

There is something truly powerful to me being able to translate emotions through storytelling. From the mind to paper, the whole process excites me more than anything ever has in my life. I am completely fulfilled while creating, so I knew it must be something that I could do for the rest of my life. 

How did you develop your unique style? 

It’s very cliché, but the most important aspect of being an artist is being true to yourself, understanding who you are and being completely vulnerable with who you want to be or who you are. Your style is you, your own personality within a piece, so to find your style you have to find yourself. 

We see that you’ve worked with prominent brands like Bonds, The Kraken Black Spiced Rum and Justin Bieber. Could you tell us more?

Yeah, I’ve had some pretty extraordinary projects to date, and I feel every single email I get just keeps exceeding the previous. It’s such a rad feeling. One that’ll top the list is the mega ramp I painted for Angus Stone (one half of the music duo Angus & Julia Stone). Partying and painting the whole time. It’s going to be hard to trump that experience. A lot of my work is digitally sourced now, but some hard copy works you’d find my stuff on is VB, Budgy Smuggler and Knobby collaborations, as well as magazine advertisements with Rolling Stone, which will be out over summer. Or you might stumble upon some commissioned canvases or walls in Melbourne, Sydney, and most recently down at HMAS Cerberus. 

How did you find the art scene on the Peninsula when you were growing up?

I never knew an art scene existed in the world, let alone in the ‘ninch. It isn’t until now I see how amazing, accepting, challenging the art world is, how supportive and creative the Peninsula is still to this day. I wish I knew more about this as I was growing up. 

Meet Jake’s pastel skeletons as they get up to mischief on Instagram @jakeross.art

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