How fine can you go with a brush? It seems Queensland artist and head creative of ‘Soopkichn’, Jae Copp, is on a mission to find out. So if you happen, by chance, to figure out how to split a hair in half then please let him know; no doubt he’ll raise it one.
A true self taught ‘fine artist’ in every sense of the word, Copp has a fondness for exploring folk and mythical characters in his work, building hybrid characters who belong in no world other than the imaginary one that seemingly dances around inside his own real-world character head. Soopkichn gets Jae’s distinguishable characters and landscapes across to a broader audience than gallery showings ever could.
Prone to painting everything in his sight, from skate decks to refrigerators and everything in between, nothing is safe around our Mr. Copp. The man has even stenciled his own fridge and painted on a garden gnome that now sits perched in a compromising position atop his toilet welcoming all and sundry. When last in Melbourne Jae was seen musing over a used ladies shoe and what he was going to do with it when he got it back home to Rainbow bay. No shame; mans a paint slut.
Jae and business partner Gav’s (owner of specialist skate shop ‘Lowdown’ in Cronulla, NSW) label, Soopkichn is a relatively new brand on the world skate and clothing scene. Proudly independent and financed completely out of Jae and Gav’s own loose and usually empty pockets. ‘Soop’ is the type of company you and your best mate probably talk about starting over a couple of tinnies and then never actually do anything about. It’s a company built on the idea of living the dream and trying to make a living out of doing what you love. Many try and live this dream and many fail. For Soop, the mix works, firstly due to the incredible mind and artistic merit of Jae’s work and secondly to the dedication to the brand of business partner, Gav. Soop are managing to release products on a limited budget that embarrass that of companies 10 times their size, and Jae’s artwork is moving ahead in leaps and bounds daily, so there is much more to come from this small label. So we caught up with Jae over a long piece of string between two Campbell’s soup tins and this is what he had to say:
Who are you and where are you from? (Jae Copp) I’ve been called many things but I hope to think my hearts in the right place. I currently live in Rainbow Bay, Queensland, Australia.
Tell us briefly about SOOPKICHN. SOOPKICHN is a multi-purposed movement. It’s a 100% un-categorised art driven label (nothing but!) The website serves as a free posting for exhibitions, interviews, team news etc…which we also encourage established, unheard or little known talents (of any type) with relevant submissions to get their shit out there and in-turn hopefully inspire them to pursue their creativity so they don’t wind up falling into shitty jobs they hate getting up for. . I know it’s been said countless times before, but it's true that if you apply yourself hard enough to anything you will achieve...and that’s fuck’n gospel!
Why are soop products different? I’m not really here to judge anyone, they do their thing and we do ours. I guess one thing we strive for is that all of our artwork is to be as “canvas to garment” as possible (Draw-scan-print) and as we’re not aiming at any particular demographic, SOOP’s sits anywhere from the plush boutique to the local skate store with a realistic price tag.
Where did the name Soopkichn come from? The name came from the dark ages in Oregon, the result of a whole lot of sleep deprivation and 5 years of brewing.
Who else is involved? I’ve done all the art side of things up till now but, we have a few local and “OS” artists up our sleeves, but these will be extremely limited runs of 100 only! The blueprints will then be shot out of a home-made canon into the ocean never to be seen again and the tees will be exclusively sold through the website. As for my business partner he owns a skate store in Cronulla (Lodown) and keeps the production side of things rolling and makes sure orders are filled (all the fun stuff).
What do you want to get out of the brand? To be able to pay bills on time and to be able to enjoy getting up in the morning to do something I love doing without anyone telling me how to do it.
How long have you been painting and why did you start? Can’t remember when exactly or why but, mum’s still got a drawing of Mickey Mouse I did when I was about 3 or 4.
Art Education - where did you get your skills? Mum’s creative DNA rubbed off on me at an early age and I also did two years at Kingscliff TAFE to learn how turn on a computer.
What is your favourite medium to work with? I found a ladies shoe in a dumpster which appealed to me in a strange kinda way (didn’t fit though?)…aah?…paper, wood, anything really…
Favourite canvas to paint? Anything and everything, but probably wood is best.
Describe your style in your own words... I’m afraid my words don’t carry much weight when it comes to this. It depends on what mood I’m in or the music I’m listening to at the time but I guess it’s generally somewhere between cartoon surrealism/contemporary-myth-folk.
Who have you painted with and who do you admire in the scene? I work alone and admire someone new everyday but I get a buzz off anyone’s work with unobvious oddities. If I had loads of money I’d buy everything…because I could damn it! A big-arse (whole wall!) Matt Gordon piece in my lounge would be pretty sweet.
You paint extremely fine detailed lines - what is your secret? A secret is no longer a secret if it is told…Naa… there’s no “secret”, just don’t drink too heavily the night/day before painting if you intend on keeping a steady hand.
What do you typically use to make your images? 3 to 10/0 brushes, pencils, pens, ink’s, acrylics, glue, hammer, nails and power tools!…Nothin’ like the piercing sound of a drop saw in the morning to get the neighbours going.
What part does a computer play in the production of your art? None really, sometimes Google searching for rough character references I guess.
Tell us about the newest production technique you have used in your artwork... One idea always sparks another, so the ball’s always rolling. Recently I did some layered ply cut pieces which was fun (someone described it as decoupage?). My work is usually a multi-part process – woodwork (cutting/shaping/sanding) then the artwork or visa-versa.
Are you making a killing out of your artwork and living the high life? Not exactly....I have a 1 bedroom unit and an unregistered Camry station wagon which now acts as a tool shed.
What does Jae Copp eat day to day? Bet you skip breakfast.
Breakfast = Cigarettes + coffee; Lunch = I mostly skip it; Dinner = the gourmet shit! That’s when its time to get busy. I love cooking, especially with a few crew over a few drinks.
Rumour has it you have a painted fridge and a Gnome that guards your toilet..tell us more.. The fridge is a white board for testing paints, thoughts and ideas but the only problem with that is that I can’t rub them out, so it’s pretty much a mess now. It’s OK, I need a new one anyway; my freezer looks like a scene from Empire Strikes Back (minus Luke hanging upside down) but there are rumours the “Wampa” has been spotted, so that may be the gnome your talking about?
Surely you wouldn’t have stenciled the inside of your shower too? Who does that? What? … No comment.
Biggest physical ailment / injury to date? Had to ask ‘cos I know the answer. Falling intoxicated 2 stories onto a lower escalator. I ruptured my spleen, broke 2 ribs, punctured a lung and cut my face up real good. Follow that with three weeks of morphine chasers in hospital and I’d have to say that’d be up there as one of the best stacks to date.
A brief summary of your life path up to this point. Born – grew - lived – loved – broken – hated - enjoyed – traveled – still livin'
Do you collect anything? What and why? I collect dust because it’s easy.
Where/what next for Jae Copp? Mexico, Children’s books…I dunno?… everything! If life’s catching up I’ll just run faster!