Jackson Joyce’s paintings are like a film made up of only close ups

We catch up with the artist and illustrator who was previously one of our Graduates, and Jackson tells us about how being busy has altered his artistic approach.

17 March 2020
Reading Time
3 minute read


We initially fell for the daydream-like work of Jackson Joyce when he was featured as part of our Graduates class in 2018. Since then, the Louisana-born artist and illustrator has been very busy, mainly working on a tonne of editorial illustrations. Tapped up for his melancholic painterly illustration by the likes of The Washington Post, The Paris Review and NBC, Jackson is now turning his attention towards more gallery work, “which is sort of a new avenue for me,” he tells It’s Nice That.

The difference between his practice as a student and the one Jackson adopts today, is time. Understandably, jumping at the chance to illustrate for the aforementioned outlets, Jackson was faced with the fact that his medium of choice (delicate painting) takes a little longer than putting pen to paper – digitally or by hand. “With illustration, especially editorial, the deadlines can be crazy,” Jackson points out. “Sometimes I’m working with the news cycle, so the turnaround for an editorial illustration can be less than 24 hours.” In turn, when we asked Jackson how his style and practice has developed since we last checked in two years ago he admits, “I’ve adapted to working faster!”

Although logistically this is quite helpful, Jackson is now at a stage with his process where he “can’t stand to spend more than a couple of days on an illustration.” This has had an effect on Jackson’s actual work, describing how his images have “become uncomplicated, my process simplified,” and stylistically describing the change in his work as “zooming in more,” he says. “Like a film that is all close-ups, it puts you inside the subject’s head.”


Jackson Joyce: Reader

Where he does dedicate time, however, is when he’s making a “painting just for me,” Jackson continues. “That’s where I learn and hone my style the most.” He’s also been selling his paintings, “a goal that seemed out of reach until recently.” This allows the artist to work at much larger scales, describing how his studio AKA his apartment “is stacked to the absolute ceiling with large canvases – salon style.”

No matter if the client is a magazine, a gallery or just himself, however, one element of Jackson’s work which solidly remains is his ethereal colour palette. Described by the artist as “moving the same five colours around,” he calls the collection – usually a variation of pink, yellow, green and blue – his signature palette.

“I’m obsessed with colour,” Jackson expands. “I keep a colour journal where I keep track of new, interesting combinations.” The ones he consistently returns to are chosen specifically “because they have a balance of harmony, discord, and something unexpected.” This final element, of the unexpected, sees the artist wanting to “make colours that are hard to describe,” he continues. “I’ve had real arguments with my peers on whether a colour is pink or grey or lavender. I love that.” Finally concluding on the subject that he has no firm plans to change this approach, he adds: “Some of my favourite musicians play the same three chords.”

Looking to the future, Jackson’s work is often on show (and available to purchase!) at Uprise Art Gallery in New York City, but he’s also working on upcoming projects. “I can’t say who it is for (yet),” he tells us. One project currently in the works is a mural for one of his favourite bands – “I’m so excited every day that I get to work on it” – and he’ll also have some book cover illustrations coming out sometime during the summer. Sounds like many more busy months to come!

GalleryJackson Joyce




No One To Talk To At The Barbecue




Flower Shadow



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About the Author

Lucy Bourton

Lucy joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in July 2016 after graduating from Chelsea College of Art. In October 2016 she became a staff writer on the editorial team and in January 2019 was made It’s Nice That’s deputy editor. Feel free to get in contact with Lucy about new and upcoming creative projects or editorial ideas for the site.


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