Artist Interview: Jason Grim – Self-Portrait Photographer

Jason Grim Self-Portrait Photography
Tell us about yourself, who are you, where are you from, and what do you do?
My name is Jason Grim and I am a self portrait photographer from Jacksonville, Florida. I attended the University of North Florida which is where I received my Bachelors in Fine Art Photography. During that time, I was creating political works that I called my “propaganda style” of working. I shot them all in a blunt, flash forward style reminiscent of Diane Arbus’s works. I covered various social issues such as LGBT rights, shootings, racism, social norms, etc. Those photographs were satisfying for that time, but after I graduated college I began to change as a person and thus as an artist. I needed more of a challenge and the thing with social commentaries is that there’s always going to be something to talk about. So I began to photograph myself, which I had never done before.

Jason Grim Self-Portrait Photography
How did you get started doing what you do?

I was looking through Flickr at various well-known self-portrait photographers and thought to myself how it all looked the same. For instance, if I see another naked person surrounded by spheres, fabric, or submerged in a randomly placed aquarium in the middle of the fucking woods I’m going to punch someone. Just kidding. But really, it’s old to me. I don’t understand how people are all drawn to these artists (who are GREAT by the way), but who are not that original. I started doing horror-based self portraits because I’ve always loved horror movies, but never approached it in fear that if I did art resembling that genre that I’d be…shunned in a way for how extreme and unpretty it can be. But now I don’t give a fuck. So my self portraits are a way for me to make the horror films I wish I could.

How would you describe your style?

Jason Grim Self-Portrait Photography
What’s your inspiration?

Short stories by my favorite authors such as Clive Barker or Stephen King, horror films, and video games like Silent Hill or the classic Resident Evil games.

What is art to you?
Anything that expresses an idea.

What does your typical day look like?
Wake up, go for a run, go to work from 8 to 6, come home and social network my artwork for about 2 hours, play League of Legends, think about ideas for future projects, tell my boyfriend that he’s as important as my artwork and that I do love him very much, and during all of that smoke a pack of cigarettes.

Jason Grim Self-Portrait Photography
How long does it typically take for you to finish a piece?
That really depends. For instance, I finished ‘The Other Half’ series in May, but I just re-edited them again with color schemes and fixed the lighting this week. So I guess I’m done with a piece when it’s published or hung up in a gallery and I can’t change it anymore.

How do you keep motivated?
I look at my student loan statements.

How have your surroundings influenced your work?
I grew up in Jacksonville, Florida on the westside. If you ask around, everyone in Jacksonville tells you that the westside isn’t the “best” side of town. I saw and heard of a lot of fucked up shit growing up. And then there’s Youtube, as well.

Jason Grim Self-Portrait Photography
What do you hope to accomplish with your work?
I hope to show self portraiture in a different, darker light. Brooke Shaden calls her works “dark art” for example, and although I’m a HUGE fan of her work, its not that “dark” for me. I want to push it further and also show how horror is a genre in photography that deserves respect.

How have others reacted to your work?
I’ve been told I’ve given people nightmares, which is my favorite compliment. And others have just said how cool they are and question how I make what I make.

What do you want others to take away from your work?
Fear and intrigue.

What, if anything, would you tell your younger self?
It doesn’t get much better, but you meet some amazing people who have sucky lives, too.

Jason Grim Self-Portrait Photography
What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
“Life sucks and then you die.” – My Father

Any words of wisdom to aspiring artists who want to pursue a similar career?
Be sure it’s what you really want to do, because it’s not the most financially secure career choice. But if it’s the one thing you love doing that makes you happy to live on a planet as shitty as this, then do it.

What are your thoughts on art school?
I want to go to graduate school and be a professor, but I know at this very moment that there are people graduating with their Masters and have the same dream as I do. I’m a dreamer, but I’m also not afraid to be real.

Have any future aspirations that you’d like to share?
I would love to have my works, such as my “Beyond the Void” series written into various short stories on each of the characters, or to have one of my current or future sets turned into a television show or film.

Jason Grim Self-Portrait Photography
What’s your dream project?

A project where I portray each person of an entire town in a zombie-related storyline.

What art supplies do you use?
Nikon D3200, wigs, fake blood, paint, flour, various costumes, and most of all natural light (or environmental lighting). I can’t stand flash anymore.

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