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Q&A With Jesse Graham for the French Letter Society




Jesse Graham is one of the first image-makers being published by the French Letter Society. For more than a decade, Jesse initiated and co-owned in Black Cloud Tattoos in Toronto, earning both the Toronto Star’s and NOW Magazine’s Reader’s Choice Best Tattoo Shop awards. He emerged from OCAD University’s Illustration Program, via Sheridan College and York University, 5-year Special Arts Program at Central Technical School. We at Someone Editions had the chance to ask him about his forthcoming publication.

How did you feel while partaking in the exercise of making over 100 individual visual works? Frustrated? Invigorated? Did your creativity ever falter? Do you feel like you went through different creative phases during the process? 

Invigorated! I felt drawn to add organic marks of fluid ink and water drying on the paper to incorporate a new perspective. The marks represent temporality and a hand that has forever changed the surface. Mark-making is an exercise in the now and present, and whether each set of markings took 30 seconds or an hour, they all show that I was present in that moment. My existence will live on. 

What inspired you to create the collection you ended up producing for the French Letter Society?

I try to place skulls and the theme of "memento mori" in all of my works.  We are not here for long, and one day leaves and earth will cover us all.  One day you'll be the leaves and the next, just the wind. (go hug your mom!) 

An experimental part of FLS' editorial process is that the publisher pairs your work with that of a poet without either you or the poet's knowledge. How do you feel that choice alters or impacts the context of your visual piece? 

All parties were separated until the signing of the books and this was also the first book as well.  Because of this, there was no base of reference or influence that could alter my visual piece. I created this piece alone and no external relations changed my execution.

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