Q & A with Julian Mitchell Estremera aka J-Mitchell, artist, gallerist, visionary
New Jersey artist “J Mitchell” traded in an unfulfilling career in corporate America to pursue his creative passions. Channeling his past experiences, J Mitchell experiments across mediums to express his vivacious style. “Mitch”, his iconic emotionless monkey, juxtaposes inner mundaneness with a life surrounded by positivity and color. Art has allowed this self-educated artist to bring to life his internal visions and make his audience feel a vast spectrum of emotion. J Mitchell continues to thrive in his career by taking on new projects and constantly challenging himself with new ideas and new inspirations. Always eager for his next vision, his talent and ability to share his colorful perspective with the world continues to grow and evolve. Connect with him on IG: @JMitchell_art | FB: J. Mitchell Art. You can also find him at his website.
GB: Julian, thanks for taking time to chat. Can you share a bit about yourself? Any background info that’s NOT in the bio?
JM: I grew up in Freehold, NJ. Most people knew of it through Bruce Springsteen and the Freehold Mall. I met my future wife Kim when I was only 15. We’ve spent every day together since. Its just us and our dog, CeCe, lovin’ life. In a crazy turn of events, at the end of summer we are buying a house back in my hometown and are stoked to start on a new chapter together. It doesn’t hurt that I finally get the studio and land space I’ve needed my whole career. Until then we stay true to our Belmar. We’ve been here for almost 6 years and wouldn’t have traded a day. We will be making this last summer count, so be sure to catch us at all the local happy hours when you can.
GB: When and how did you realize you wanted to be an artist?
JM: Growing up I always was creative and interested in cartoons and sketching. I would watch “The Imagination Station” everyday after school in the 90s. Shout out to Mark Kistler. Years went on though and I started taking classes as a kid but nothing really ever stuck out to me. I never was introduced on how to incorporate sketching, cartoons, and graffiti into an art piece. High school happened and I fell in with the crowd. Sports were my hobby and college was probably my main focus at the time. In 2011, I graduated from college with a Business Management degree and an opportunity in a major financial firm. 6 years later and I found myself a VP, making great money but miserable. It just wasn’t for me. I went back to the only therapy I knew. I started drawing at work, painting on the weekends and painting small canvas on the beach. 2 years later with another firm, I finally had an opportunity to get out. My position was ironically being eliminated. From that day forward I put happiness, my talents and my family first. I haven’t looked back in 3 years. I took a plunge. Went all in. Promised myself I would never give up and here I am now. This life isn’t for everyone, but my worst day now is better then my best day back then. Love what you do and it just becomes……fun.
GB: As a fellow New Jerseyian, do you find it inspiring your work at all? Care to share any stories that some of our local squad might eNJoy?
JM: NJ is awesome. I think the biggest inspiration for me right now is living by the beach. It’s going to be interesting moving back to the suburbs to see what challenges Ill have to overcome and what new styles I will develop with the new inspirations around me. Something cool that I was a part of last year was the Sea Hear Now Festival in Asbury Park. It was a huge 2 day music and arts festival with Jack Johnson and Incubus headlining. I helped work on a donated surfboard installment that turned out to be one of the biggest photo ops of the whole festival. For 2 days there was a line of people waiting to take a picture. That was such a sick event to leave my mark on and look forward to helping out where I can for this years event.
GB: On top of being a prolific artist, you maintain a growing company, The Working Artist. How does that inspire your own art? What impacts does that have on your work?
JM: I think one of my biggest loves other than painting is the power of bringing people together. Whether that is in a job setting, a referral opportunity or just bringing two people together to do business that might not have come together otherwise. I took that interest and combined it with my love of art. The Working Artist started as a brick and mortar gallery and has evolved into a traveling business that works with hotels, bars, lounges and restaurants to curate their spaces and showcase talented local emerging artists. I have gotten to meet such incredible artists and people in the last 2 years of TWA. So many opportunities have stemmed from this business. It is something that I will always strive to make bigger. I feel like owning TWA has kept my creative mind fresh. I firmly believe in working with other artists even if it’s just a few times a month. You need that opportunity to bounce ideas off another person. As an artist you need to hear criticism even if you’re not going to take the advice. I really believe without interaction with other artists your depriving yourself from growing and evolving.
GB: What’s your creative process like? Do you have any takeaway routines or strategies?
JM: My process isn’t necessarily the same every time, but I would say the three main things I focus on are Practice, Create and Evolve. Practice similar to sports or prepping for a test. You’re only going to get out what you put in. If this is truly something you want to do as a career, you need to put as much effort and practice as you would with a full time job. Create every single day. If I’m not painting, I’m sketching in a book or I’m drawing through my iPad. If its not art related I’m working on my business, or my website or I’m researching my craft. I am always doing something to better my career and myself. Evolve as an artist. Take risks. Not everything you make is going to be amazing. But each time you create something your learning. If you keep learning the only way is up. Emphasis your accomplishments and learn from your mistakes.
GB: If you could use one word or phrase to describe your art’s message, what would it be and why?
JM: I have never met a monkey that didn’t make me smile.
GB: What does “success” mean to you?
JM: Success isn’t weighed in money, material things, or how many houses you own anymore. To me, success is measured in happiness. It’s measured In the time and fun your having with your family. It’s about loving what you do and making a career and a living out of it. It’s about expanding your family and teaching your children everything you’ve learned and becoming a positive role model for them. I have success, but there are levels to it. I’m at the very beginning. I’m eager and excited to keep hitting these milestones and continuing the success.
GB: Is there any advice you have for someone looking to quit their day job launch a career in the arts?
JM: If you really are interested in this craft, do it because you love it. This is a tough life but once you get in your groove, if it truly is your passion, it becomes natural and easily falls into place. My biggest advice would be start now, while you have the backing of your job. Put as much effort in now without sacrificing your work. Build a savings to fall back on in the beginning. Once you got your feet wet and you realize what you need to do to monetize your craft and transition from a hobby to full time work, take the plunge. There is nothing else that will prepare you for this jump until you actually do it. Believe in yourself, leave the ones that doubt. Surround yourself with positive people that have similar mindsets. I’ve moved on from so many friends but that’s life. The people around me now are genuine good souls that will be with me through life.
GB: What’s next for J-Mitchell? Got any forthcoming projects we can keep an eye out for?
JM: My next big show is set for Thursday, June 20th at The One Art Space Gallery in Tribeca, NYC from 6–9:30pm. I’ll be blasting a ton of promotion on my site and social media. We just had a pretty cool interview through the NYSE as well you can find on my page. I’m releasing a ton of brand new work and looking forward to seeing some of my NJ and NY supporters.