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Jak Rāta – Issue 18

Nexus: What drew you to painting/illustration?


Jak: I’ve always been a little bit obsessed with drawing. My brother and I used to draw little maps on paper and have battles to see who would win, I guess that’s where it started. Flash-forward to high school and I did art on a whim with no real intention of taking it anywhere. After spending all of NCEA L1 painting about horror movies and crows, I guess that’s caused me to be here now. 


Nexus: You grew up in Northland, how has your background influenced your art?


Jak: For a long time I was influenced by western culture and even adopted a pakeha surname. There’s a lot of shame in being a Māori sometimes, my dad instilled that, but the culture around me couldn’t really be suppressed. I mean they sure as shit try but I just take that and create something tangible. I was really into drawing Māori based works for a while, and that influence is still there, but I guess I’ve changed a lot. Northland also has a hella influential street culture which comes through more in my photography but that’s a different interview. 


Nexus: What does being an artist mean to you?


Jak: Being an artist means that I can create without fear of being suppressed. I can take an idea and put it into a physical world, making it something that can be explored and critiqued. It’s important for anyone to have an outlet – mine just happens to be a painting or an illustration.


Nexus: How have you developed as an artist?


Jak: Can I say that I haven’t? Sure I have more practical application knowledge, but I don’t think my core ideas or values have changed. I’m really just someone who wants to draw silly little pictures with no real meaning. Sounds corny as fuck really.


Nexus: What do you dislike in your work and how do you combat self-criticism?


Jak: I am one to self-sabotage rampantly, all the best creatives do. There’s merit in the ability to look at a piece and go, “shit I’m good” and I don’t negate that but you should always want to grow and develop as a creator. Don’t limit yourself to just one road.


Nexus: What do you have to say to the people who don’t care about art?


Jak: It’s all subjective. I may go out there and say that I don’t really care for arborists (not an attack on them haha) but that doesn’t give them any less value. Just because someone doesn’t care for art doesn’t devalue the idea of art altogether. That being said, art is everywhere you look. So just open your eyes. Or go to Specsavers? Fuck knows, but you can’t avoid art e hoa.