“I kind of hate the idea of expectation”: Jacob Rochester likes to shake things up with his exquisitely painted works
The LA-based artist and designer talks us through two recent projects, the importance of good collaboration and what influences him creatively.
- Jyni Ong
- 14 August 2020
- Reading Time
- 3 minute read
Growing up in Bloomfield, Connecticut, Jacob Rochester learned to draw through closely copying things he was interested in. At the time, this often involved video games and comic books, he even learnt to draw anatomy from observing the cover of The Hulk: Return of the Monster Issue 34. He filled sketchbooks with various iterations from “the dude from the And-1 Mixtape logo” over and over again. Then, as time passed, he gained an interest in graphic design and typography with the introduction of graffiti and more unexpectedly, an obsession with movie title design.
These various channels of influence (not to mention the fact his mum is also an artist) have thus resulted in Jacob’s painterly practice today. Providing a unique spin on contemporary pop culture with an astute point of view, Jacob’s work feels both curated and expressive at the same time. He likes to reference the same things every now and again and is drawn to depicting objects that “live within the same world aesthetically.” That being said, Jacob is conscious of the comfort of repetition, which for him, can often lead to boredom.
He tells us, “I kind of hate the idea of expectation. I was told recently that I always reference the 90s within my work and though it is 100% true, it’s moments like that where I like to reflect and realise that it’s good to get out of my comfort zone.” A recent interview with Bráulio Amado comes to mind. In the interview, the renowned New York-designer and illustrator discusses how he constantly tries out new techniques or styles “not only because it can get boring to do the same thing but it also helps evolve your work.”
With an impressive roster of clients under his belt, it’s no surprise that Jacob’s beautifully detailed work has gained him commissions from the likes of Nike, Bodega and Beats by Dr Dre; just to name a few. In a new project for Nike made in collaboration with Phillip T Annand, Jacob worked on a non-consumer facing manual providing the story and visual language behind the recently released Space Hippie line of sneakers, The [Early] Nike Space Hippie Catalog: A Manual For New Radicals.”
Art directed by Phil, Jacob enjoyed an open approach to designing the book. With a fruitful working relationship established, the two collaborated to push one another forwards. When Jacob thought a certain spread of layout was “super out there or resolved,” Phil challenged him to go further, bringing “even crazier ideas” to the table, which made its way into the book. In turn, the final book feels experimental yet highly designed simultaneously.
In another project titled Project 2020, Jacob along with 19 other artists were given 20 iconic baseball cards from the past to reinterpret. So far, he’s dropped nine cards which impressively recreate the swinging movement of baseball. It’s a project that a lot of baseball fans are invested in, and with each new card, Jacob hints back to the original through the handprinted typography while giving the viewers an abundance of new painterly details to enjoy too.
As for the future, he hopes to have an art show at some point, showcasing the oil paintings he’s been working on over the past few years. He also plans to continue his freelance design work with and for different studios.
About the Author
Jyni became a staff writer in March 2019 having previously joined the team as an editorial assistant in August 2018. She graduated from The Glasgow School of Art with a degree in Communication Design in 2017 and her previous roles include Glasgow Women’s Library designer in residence and The Glasgow School of Art’s Graduate Illustrator.