Thursday, May 23, 2013

Taking the Low Road - Jubly-Umph Originals

The division between low brow and high brow art has always fascinated me. Way back in the way back times I was dating a boy who was finishing his degree in Fine Art, and we would have some enormous "discussions"about what did and did not qualify as art. At the time, I was pretty disinterested in modern art as a whole. I much preferred the old masters section of the gallery, and could spend hours ogling the delicate brushstrokes, and incredible way the light is captured in a Rembrandt.

Rembrandt, Self Portrait 1640
I turned my nose up at things like installation artworks and abstracts. I didn't consider these things "serious" or "proper"art, and my boyfriend furiously disagreed. He was very fond of the hard-edge abstractionist school of art, which looks to an untrained eye such as myself to be just shapes. Very nicely done, crisp shapes, but just shapes. Sometimes lines. My boyfriend was big into lines in his own work.

Karl Benjamin, Orange, Red, Umber

Compare these two pictures, and you can probably see how a lot of our arguments about art went. However, in time, I did gain an appreciation for the simplicity of form in the hard edge abstracts - there is something delightful about how incredibly PERFECT they are. My ex could tell you all about the way they valued aesthetics over philosophical meaning, and how that in itself was a philosophical stance, but I just liked that they were so perfect, so NEAT. An interesting thing happened over the course of our relationship though - we both started incorporating elements of the other's taste into our own. Through our mutual love of graffiti as an artform, he started incorporating elements of graffiti style into his work. He started adding more flowing forms, and sometimes even straight up sprayed dripping lines over his perfect, crisp abstracts. And I started incorporating the crispness of his art into my painting and drawings. I got obsessed with using ink and brush instead of pen, and the comic art of people like Jim Mahfood, who combine the crisp, clean edges of abstract art with free flowing graffiti forms.

Unfortunately, he went to Berlin to complete his course, I slept with someone else because I was a terrible girlfriend when I was 20, and we broke up. I hear he's married with a kid now.

My interest in the middle ground between traditional and modern art remained though. I'm still fascinated by the interaction between old fashioned and modern techniques, and high brow art that takes elements of art forms traditionally considered low brow. This is how Jubly-Umph Originals came to my attention.

Jubly-Umph is a Melbourne based artist who works across a variety of mediums, but the one that caught my eye is her fantastic jewellery. She takes elements of traditional tattoo art, Day of the Dead symbolism, and abstractionist simplicity of form and mashes it into beautiful, unique pieces. I've seen a bunch of artists piggybacking off the recent popularity of Dia de los Muertos style accessories and prints, but I was impressed by the range of influences in Jubly-Umph's work. There are pieces that make me think of Mexico and margarita filled afternoons, pieces that make me think of sailing the high seas with a crew of cartoon pirates, and pieces that make me think of a dark, delicious smelling library in a gothic mansion. I picked up my first piece at Supanova in Melbourne, because Jubly-Umph had a stall there and my boy insisted I really DID need a third anatomical heart pendant, after I fell in love with this.
Image courtesy of Jubly-Umph
On me!
In the adorable tin it came in.
As soon as I had more spare cash I went back for a gorgeous little Dia de los Muertos style fox pendant as well. All Jubly-Umph's pendants and earrings are made with stainless steel and resin, so they're deceptively hardy for something so pretty, and very handy if you're like me and get a reaction from cheap metal against your skin for too long. I feel like this level of quality really justifies the price tag, not to mention the fact it's all going to a local independant artist. I was absolutely DELIGHTED with the package my pendant showed up in - I'm such a sucker for careful, beautiful packaging, and this was a real treat.

Not only was my order beautifully packaged, it also arrived with ninja speed. I ordered it on a Friday in Sydney, and it was on my desk Tuesday morning! And before my international readers start sulking, they do ship internationally!

Now I'm a foxy lady! Ahahah...sorry, couldn't resist.

Image courtesy of Jubly-Umph

My preciouses!

Unfortunately there are about five other peices she has that I DESPERATELY need, so I'm just going to have to keep on saving! In the meantime however, Jubly-Umph was kind enough to answer a few questions for me about her business and her art.

Has the experience of running your own business been more or less how you anticipated, or different? 
  "My business started so gradually that I didn't really have expectations or goals. I was a crafter first and not a very good artist but the more I did the better I got. I couldnt have predicted when I started out that I would be flying around the country every few weeks for events or having my work appear in magazines and on TV."

What has been the most rewarding part of running Jubly-Umph Originals so far?

"Seeing people out and about wearing our jewellery. It still gives me a thrill and makes everything we do seem worthwhile."

What has been the most discouraging part?
  "Bookkeeping. I hate it! In fact I refuse to do it. My business partner does it all but it can be the most daunting thing for a small business."

How do more "high brow" artists respond to your "low brow" aesthetic? 
  "They tend to like it for what it is; cute, bright and fun. The ones than don't like it tend not to comment which is fine by me. I will never be a high brow artist, I will never win any art competitions or be awarded any prizes but I will have thousands of people all over the world owning my work which gives me a nice squishy feeling inside."
Who would you most like to see wearing one of your works?
  "Amanda Palmer! That would be so cool."

To add extra items to my ever growing "must have" list of Jubly-Umph peices, they have just released a new collection called Dark hearts, that features a yet another anatomical heart pendant I simply must have, as well as an adorable little dark eyed librarian.

You can keep up with Jubly-Umph's adventures and add to your own Must Have list by following their website, Facebook, or Twitter

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