Hi Jeff! So you’re currently based in Grand Rapids.. Can you tell me a bit about yourself?
I was born in 1985. I have lived in Michigan my entire life. I love the water.
What first interested you in painting?
I thought it was magic.
Your recent work is abstract and quite minimal, with attention on subtle detail and color choices. What has drawn you to this current series?
I wanted a challenge. I wanted to see how few visual elements I could apply to make a good painting. I was drawn toward the immediate gesture made by spray paint; you only get that one chance, and you can’t rework it. There is a very thin line between good and bad. I enjoy teetering on that line in my studio.
Recent paintings, including in your Upload Trash series, reveal hints of what is below the surface — but only a peek. And you use various materials in addition to canvas as a surface. How do you get started on these works?
I envisioned working with spray paint but I didn’t want to waste any canvas. I chose to use stretched plastic in its place. The plastic created a window, allowing you to see through to the stretcher and the wall behind. This added a dimension otherwise impossible with canvas.
Do you plan ahead or allow each one to guide you as you go?
I do little to no planning for all of my work. I enjoy the anxiety and uncertainty that I go through in my studio. Some pieces happen immediately, while some take quite a bit of time. It’s mostly about the journey.
You might get this often as an artist based in Grand Rapids, but that is the location of the giant ArtPrize event that has taken off in recent years. Have you participated in that? Or have any thoughts about it as a local artist?
I have yet to participate in ArtPrize. Overall, I have mixed feelings about the event. I ask myself every year how and why I would get involved.
What is your studio like? How much time do you typically spend there?
My studio is located in an old furniture factory that has been transformed into mixed use spaces. My space is an eleven hundred square foot rectangle that I have been renting since 2010. I am usually there 5-7 days a week.
What is the most fulfilling or rewarding part of your practice?
The act of making things with my hands, running around my studio like an anxious freak.
Do you have any upcoming exhibitions or current projects you’re developing?
I just installed a 8’ x 36’ painting onto the side of my friends coffee shop. I am working with a friend to throw a one night only exhibition inside of a hotel room.
Find more at jeffkraus.net and on Instagram: @jeff.kraus!
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