The CaliBaja life is one of open-mindedness, acceptance and bold representation of our own version of “culture-fusion”. Sharing what is amazing about Baja and demystifying media misconceptions about the area to help transcend borders is our definite chief aim. So come walk with us as we talk with an artist in Rosarito that represents the culture of Baja and exudes the CaliBaja life.
Jaime Carbo is CaliBaja personified. From his use of high-contrast colors in his paintings to the high-contrast elements within his images, Jaime isn’t afraid to stand out. Between the layers of acrylic on his canvases, the layers of Jaime’s personal connectedness to his art, his culture and his spirit shine through each brushstroke. As colorful as his paintings, Jaime’s interview is filled will colorful explosions of ideas, drawn with a deep respect for the history of his art and his own culture. Step into the mind of Jaime Carbo…
CaliBaja: We’ve seen all of your work and are huge fans. Who would you credit as influential for your art?
Jaime: My influences vary from anonymous Aztec, Mayan or Huichol artists to art world legends such as contemporary art world figure David Hockney, Peter Doig or Takashi Murakami. I am influenced also by younger street artists such as Dabs Myla, Felipe Pantone or Okuda, whose work I find very powerful and inspiring. In the past, we used to find inspiration sources from our peers in books and now we find them online and with some luck we even establish relationships with them online. I would definitely say that I draw most of my inspiration from daily life, things that happen to me, and even people around me are my inspiration. All of these inspirations may be translated into my images in a sort of poetic fashion without being to specific or obvious about it.
CaliBaja: We especially like the idea of ancient artifacts juxtaposed with the newest of today’s technology. Tell us more about what this contrast means to you, what do you see as your message.
Jaime: I like to stretch the timeline from past to present back and forth, I find that it is one of the few ways to involve the Time factor into the painting equation as it does not really constitute a definitive element in it such as it does in music, film, dance or theatre. My incursion into pre-columbian art of the different regions of Mexico has been part of a personal study through which I have been able to know my roots and thus get a more clear sense of the present and ultimately get to know myself a little better–at least in the cultural context. After some educational drawings, I discovered the main elements of the ancient artistic expressions and started to play with them so as to have some fun and transmit a joyful message to the spectator, which in the end is always my main goal. I see art as a medium of communication. I love music, painting, sculpture, architecture and have practiced all of these, even a little film and dance (I was a bit of a breakdancer as a kid in the late 70´s) but my main medium since I was around 5 has always been drawing and painting so it is with this medium that I try to convey a positive message that will hopefully leave a good sensation in whoever experiences the work that I do.
CaliBaja: A majority of your work is 2D, but you do have some sculptures as well. Do you have a preference, and do you work with other mediums that did not make it on your website?
Jamie: I am a very curious soul when it comes to experimentation, I love to compose, record and edit music, I play guitar, bass, and drums. I love basic architecture and sculpting, basic 3d editing, 2d animation, and I love photoshop… I think I love all forms of artistic expression. I admire stand up comedians as it is performance in its purest form. In spite of all of this, I had to limit my experimentation phase a bit in order to go deeper into one art form which is painting. Of course, drawing is in a sense part of painting and vice-versa, and sculpture is very much related, so I practice these as well but not as often as painting. I draw a lot digitally when I create mural or big canvas projects but I focus my efforts towards painting because there was a metaphor I read some time ago that really stuck with me, the metaphor of the magnifying glass. It states that a magnifying glass will only create a measurable reaction if it is focused in one point, if it is moved around back and forth between two points or more it will not create a reaction in any of the points, but if it is focused into one point, the reaction will become visible and it will grow exponentially if it is not moved. So I began to narrow my experiments into painting, which I chose after months of careful consideration, in order to go deeper into it and create a reaction. Surprisingly this has been the case, and it has all been going steadily uphill from there, and life has blessed me with many beautiful surprises and I believe this decision has everything to do with it. I have read many biographies and seen documentaries and was surprised to find that many successful artists had secret passions for other arts, for example, Picasso played guitar, Braque played violin, Basquiat was in a band and Jimi Hendrix loved to paint, but we wouldn’t have heard of these characters if they hadn’t focused all of their efforts into what we now know them for, and thus reaching high levels of excellence in their chosen crafts. Excellence is something that I believe requires countless hours of effort so if one desires to attempt to reach that level it is important that one not only work hard, but also focus the efforts into one point.
CaliBaja: Aside from the obvious…how do the different mediums influence your ability to fully express yourself from a creative standpoint? How do you achieve the harmony between form and content…does the message come to your mind first and then you create based on the message?
Jaime: For me message plays a role in the beginning of the artwork and eventually it is reduced to about 20% of the whole experiment. I think painting is a very mysterious medium which has a lot of metaphysical qualities, we leave our pulse, our energy, our states of mind into layers of pigments within a surface and this conveys a message even if it is not directly visible upon the canvas such as in abstract expressionism. Although my work is figurative, as in any painting, I believe there is more in the canvas than meets the eye in plain sight. So when I am creating I take all of this into consideration and aside from subject, I give equal importance to elements such as line, color, contrast, compositional balance, spatial configuration, tone juxtaposition and many other elements which one would not really consider upon observing the work. Lately it has all evolved into a more automatic process in which I am somewhat of a spectator and I just kind of allow the work to flow into the canvas without trying to manipulate it too much. I love this because it allows me to practice my trust in a higher source aside from myself, and in the end it always works out, it is like a zen practice where if you put aside fear and just flow with the present moment, everything just magically comes together. As for the actual message, I find that Love is the most powerful force in the universe and that it is important to focus our attention in this beautiful energy as opposed to contrary frequencies sometimes promoted through mass media outlets. It is so overwhelming and peace inducing to find that regardless of technological advances, political agendas, and the overall state of the world, life functions just as it did millions of years ago; matter is governed by energy, and thought power is our joystick to manipulate this vast energy which in turn will manipulate what our personal experience will eventually Be regardless of what external conditions may appear to bring.
CaliBaja: You’ve been in galleries and commissioned by brands to work on projects. Did you expect to be at that level when you got your start? What sort of brands do you enjoy working with/…or would you prefer to be solely in galleries?
Jaime: I kind of take the work as it comes, I actually love both things, I enjoy working with people, especially interesting people and develop ideas for their endeavors, be it a business, brand or just their home. I also enjoy the other part which is full creative freedom where I get to decide what happens within the canvas and those works of art are more of a summary of the things that I have learned over the years, but they are sides of the same coin in a way because commissions and collaborations are very much a learning experience and a technical challenge which will leave my hands and mind more able and ready for when I channel cosmic energy through my subconscious mind and create a more automatic or seemingly “personal” work of art. Sometimes I will get that same freedom in a commission, so whatever my manager upstairs brings me I try to do joyfully and always give my very best because artworks usually outlive artists and you most probably will not be there to give explanation for your work in the future, the art must definitely speak for itself. As for galleries I kind of stopped looking for galleries to show my art some time ago because after I put up a gallery of my own in 2013- 2014 I found that I was kind of good at selling my own work and I haven’t found anyone who has been able to sell more of my work than me although I still secretly hold the idea that maybe someday somebody will be able to do this especially because sometimes it is a bit overwhelming doing everything yourself, but as everything I try to take it a step at a time and when that time comes I will also embrace it joyfully. I kind of started enjoying having a career of my own without the usual “curricular” style standards, I have never really been the academic type so I´m happy creating my own way through life without following an established by-the-book pattern. In this sense watching artists like Banksy and Shepard Fairey create their own careers outside the establishment has really encouraged me to follow my own path without trying to force myself into a traditional curricular career as an artist, hopefully I´ll get to sing Frank Sinatra´s ‘My way’ when I´m 80 years old and laugh about it all haha. 😀
CaliBaja: If there is anything you can tell us that epitomizes the culture of the Baja art scene/culture, what is it? How is it different (or the same)?
Jaime: I love the Baja Culture, especially the border to coast part because it is a multi-cultural experience where you get to meet people mainly from both Mexico and the US, but also from different parts of the world. I think that the border is blurred here and people live their own lives, making their own social rules based on just regular niceness regardless of countries, politics or even beliefs. This hybrid is not a common thing in every part of the world, it is more of a border phenomenon, but it is very outlined here because it is a clash between two very large countries with very diverse historical backgrounds and it seems to work very harmoniously. I just love going to the store to buy something or to a restaurant and hearing English as well as Spanish, which ironically aren’t even languages endemic to this continent but this is just the way the world is evolving into a multicultural scenery and it is very evident here in Baja California, not to mention that it is very beautiful, the weather is great and now that we are specializing in food and beverage, well it is just a pleasurable place all around the ancient golden island of California. Somebody once said that it is very similar from San Francisco all the way down to Los Cabos and I think it is Cali all around and that is super sweet!!
CaliBaja: Let us know where else to find your work!
Jaime: My website is www.JaimeCarbo.com
To see more of my recent work, check out my Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr pages (@jimmycarbo and @jimmycarboart):
Add me on Facebook and other social media so you can find more diverse images! 🙂