By Rich Simmons
Starting an art career during a global pandemic is incredibly bold, brave and admirable and those same words can be used to describe Jessie Cohen, known by her artist name Chromakane.
Her artwork is a beautiful hybrid of styles and influences and her story is also a mix of cultures and inspirations. The art is powerful and at the same time, delicate and elegant. There is an organic flow in the work which draws your eye gracefully around the pieces. The art creates a sense of calm and tranquility, and considering her art journey started in a time of turmoil, this was the artist at the right time that I needed to discover.
Enjoy meeting Chromakane, discovering her art and learning about her journey.
How did your journey in art begin?
I have many memories since childhood of being cooped up in my bedroom making stuff. Whether drawing comic books and flip-book animations, airbrushing clay figurines, creating collage art and photo manipulations, or learning macro photography… I think it’s this experimentation with different art forms which made me very curious early on, and it’s this curiosity which remains my driving force today as an artist. I also like to think that even though I’ve had creative bones for as long as I can remember, my journey in art begins again every time I explore a new form or technique, which is also what keeps things so fresh and exciting for me.
Your artist name is Chromakane. What is the story behind the name and what do you want Chromakane to become moving forwards?
I’ve been fascinated by Japanese contemporary pop and manga art for the longest time, from Takashi Murakami’s superflat otaku universe to Takeshi Obata’s dark aesthetic. What intrigues me most is the heightened sensorial experience of it all. And in my own Chinese culture, the concept of intense passion can often be associated with the colour red. So, taking these inspirations which always resurface in my art process, Chromakane combines ‘chroma’ (intense colour) and ‘akane’ (Japanese for red) as a metaphor for ‘intense passion’.
Chromakane began as a personal creative release, allowing me to explore my love for traditional hand drawing after several years building up a clinical corporate portfolio. Over the past year, Chromakane has turned into more of a brand with global reach and representation, through which I am keen to experiment with ways to take my work into as many new realms as possible, whether print, textile or tattoo art. My ambition for Chromakane is always to remain curious and experimental throughout the journey.
What is your creative process? What are the steps from idea to finished piece?
The most important first step in my creative process is that curiosity I’d mentioned previously: being curious to discover art and culture as well as experiment with new techniques. What also motivates and excites me to keep drawing is knowing that, with each new piece, I am creating an image which people have never seen before. Digital tools are essential to my process, especially as most of my finished products are digital giclée prints, but there is also something very raw about the artist hand which I don’t want to take away from my process. So whether I am beginning with a hand drawing or hand finishing a piece, it is important for me to include traditional techniques at some point along the way.
What themes, topics or narratives inspire your art?
I am of mixed Malaysian Chinese and French heritage, so having grown up between two worlds I am lucky to have experienced the beauty of different cultures on an intimate level. This is an overarching narrative for my art: I like to think of Chromakane as a way of reflecting on my own heritage, as well as being inspired by world culture, to share a new fusion of visual styles and stories with my audience. Emotions are equally important to me too: it was through drawing, particularly in th