Briefly describe the work you do:
I work primarily in print-based media, often cutting and collaging my prints. Currently I am working on a project that started in April of 2012. Once a year I mail 13 individuals a letter requesting a list containing 5 songs. I inform the recipients that I will create a collage inspired by one song from their list. Each month I mail a 12” x 9” collage to an individual, and at the end of the year I send each participant a letterpress box set containing 7” x 5” reproductions of all 13 images.
Tell us a little about your background and how that influences your work:
I attended graduate school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison from 1999 – 2002.While there I took a class in Print Production focused on incorporating digital printmaking into your work. I taught myself how to use Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop, and the use of these programs has been a part of my work ever since.
The concept of the “artist studio” has a broad range of meanings, especially in contemporary practice. The idea of the artist toiling away alone in a room may not necessarily reflect what many artists do from day to day anymore. Describe your studio practice and how it differs from (or is the same as) traditional notions of “being in the studio.”
I work at Tandem Press so I consider my day job to be an aspect of my studio practice. In the print shop, especially during an artist’s visit, there is an intense amount of collaboration. During this process I have discussions, formal and conceptual, that I keep in my head and reference in my own work. When I am producing in my studio I am alone in a room with a pair of headphones on and I really enjoy the solitude.
When do you find is the best time of day to make art? Do you have time set aside every day, every week or do you just work whenever you can?
I am in my studio in the early evening Monday – Thursday. I also try to spend time there on Saturday and Sunday as well. Lately I have found that if I wake up at 5 am and cannot get back to sleep I will head down to the studio. I end up producing some of my best images in the early morning. I feel like the left side of my brain is still asleep and doesn’t get in the way of the right side.
How has your work changed in the last five years? How is it the same?
About 5 years ago I decided to stop painting and focus on collage and printmaking. In 2010 I started creating work with the idea of mailing it to individuals, which has evolved into my current work of creating collages from participants’ song lists.
Are there people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers or even pop icons that have had an impact on the work you do?
I am influenced by everything in this question. One recent instance that stands out is the novel The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks. I was making a piece for a show about the U.S. Presidents and was given Woodrow Wilson. My first idea was too clunky and not going to work. I came upon a line in the novel about people being like sheep and it sparked an idea that I ended up creating the image around.
If you had an occupation outside of being an artist, what would that be and why?
As clichéd as it sounds, I have no idea. Maybe a food critic but that would entail writing, which I am terrible at. I also don’t like white condiments so I feel like I might be too picky for that profession.
Jason Ruhl works primarily in print-based media, often cutting and collaging his prints. Much of his work revolves around reducing, or simplifying, images to what he deems are the essential components. The result is a progression that obscures the “original” but leaves enough of its history to give the viewer a connection to the image. He received his MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his BFA from Minnesota State University, Mankato. His work has been included in group exhibitions nationally and internationally in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Venice, and Berlin, among others. He currently lives in Madison, WI where he is a Master Printer at Tandem Press.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.