Project 2020: 20 Questions With Jason Undead

Today we're launching our new series, Project 2020, twenty questions with twenty artists from the Carolinas! We're kicking Project 2...

Today we're launching our new series, Project 2020, twenty questions with twenty artists from the Carolinas! We're kicking Project 2020 off with Jason Undead!

Arist: Jason Undead
Location: The mountains of North Carolina
Bio: Born and raised in North Carolina, street artist Undead, or Jason Undead, places detailed pen and ink stickers in random public places.  He hopes you see one and smile, think, or wonder what kind of a lunatic would do this with his free time. Either way, made you look.
More: Official | Instagram

How did you come up with your artist name?
The adjectives and nouns around Undead have changed over the years but I've been Undead since the days of Myspace. There I originally used the handle Undead Film Critic and reviewed cult and exploitation films from the perspective of a zombie, much in the same vein as Elvira or Vampira would introduce old b-movies on TV. So me screwing around on this new social media platform led to the rise of Undead and shortly thereafter a legit gig reviewing cult film DVD and Blu-ray releases.

How did you get into art?
In 3rd grade my teacher encouraged my Mother to buy me comic books to help with my reading development and to encourage a general enjoyment in books. It worked, and I shortly started drawing comic book characters and stories.

Did you receive any formal training or lessons?
I again get to brag about my Mom here as she did find random, yet amazing teachers for me to learn from. One was a classical realist painter and muralist. Another was a comic book inker. They would offer critiques of my work and suggest advice. To be able to get feedback at that age was incredibly helpful. I can't thank her enough for that. I also had a great Art Teacher in high school who was very encouraging.

What is your favorite medium?
Mechanical pencils. Prismacolor Pens. Anything with an adhesive backing.

When did you first realize that you wanted to pursue art as a career?
The moment I started reading those Spider-Man comics my Mom bought for me in 3rd grade.

Are you currently creating art full-time? If so, how long have you been doing it?
Yes. The past few years I've been lucky in that both my day job and my personal life have allowed me to create.

What and where was the first pin-up you created? Is it still around?
I started throwing up stencil pieces in 2016, and stickers shortly after. My early stencils were works that combined pin-ups with skulls. They have long been covered up, or in the case of one at The Foundation in Asheville, buried.

Of all the art you've created, what piece are you the most proud of and why?
Nothing comes to mind. I can pick out the flaws I see in pieces I've done easily, but the one that I'm most proud of leaves me blank. I drew a 6 foot tall sticker of a nude Pin-Up for the DC Street Sticker Expo 4.0 made out of 228 Priority Mail labels. I felt pretty accomplished after pulling that one off.

What piece received the most acclaim from others and why?
Again nothing comes to mind. I do greatly appreciate whenever someone takes a little bit of their time to leave a comment or post something I did.

How do you choose your paid art opportunities?
I take and consider each opportunity as it comes. I love working with people to help see their vision come to fruition, and have generally had good experiences.

What other jobs have you held over the years?
Film Projectionist. Clerk in a little, mom and pop VHS store. UPS Driver. Film Critic. Parking attendant at a concert venue in Charlotte. Graphic Designer.

What do you listen to while you create?
Either music or podcasts. Music tastes are all over the place and I'm always looking for something new. I was recently turned on to Charlie Megira and have been listening to his discography.

Do you mind if people see your works in progress or do you prefer they only see the final product?
I guess it depends on the work but generally I enjoy dropping a piece in its final form.

How has the Internet/social media helped you as an artist? How has the Internet/social media hurt you as an artist?
It's amazing to have your work available and presented to the world for anyone to uncover and hopefully enjoy. On the flip side, it's infuriating when a random algorithm decides that they aren't going to show your work this week to anyone for reasons unknown.

Let's talk about influences. Who influenced you when you were first trying to find your voice? Who or what influences you now?
Earliest influences would be Comic Book Artists like Art Adams, Geoff Darrow, then later R. Crumb and Frank Frazetta. I've also found great influence in filmmakers such as Quentin Tarantino, David Lynch, Russ Meyer; directors with a distinct voice.

If you could go back in time five years and speak to the younger you, what would you tell yourself?
Draw more. Stop thinking about the risks and take the risk.

If you could have dinner with any artist living or dead, who would it be and why?
Rockin' Jelly Bean is the first artist that comes to mind. An amazing artist and influence who is currently in Tokyo.

Why naked women?
I've yet to find a better muse. And they're not always naked.

You have also done tons of musicians and celebrities and have managed to get your art into the hands of many of them. How do you do that? Which celebrity was your favorite to meet?
Being in the right place at the right time often means waiting. A lot of waiting. Favorite is hard to pick. Getting to hang out with Killer Mike was a huge thrill! It was right after a Run The Jewels show at The Orange Peel. We talked about art, he introduced me to El-P, who is equally cool, and the whole night was just dope all around. He's a great guy and amazing artist. David Blaine was pretty dope too. I've been lucky to have been able to pass on some of my art to other artists who I admire.

You just released your first zine, which we love! What made you do this? How long did it take you to create it? Are you pleased with the reaction to it? When will the next one be released?
Thank you! I wanted to see if I could do it. That simple but also a lot of hard work. It took about a month to create once I sharpened the idea. The zine is chaptered in such a way to highlight the stickers I got up in a particular city at a particular time. Picking the dates and pieces I wanted to start with and creating the covers and pin-up were a lot of fun, and I would love to make another one before the year is over.


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Strange Carolinas is the Travelogue Of The Offbeat, a wry look at the interesting, unique, and offbeat roadside attractions, people, music, art, food, and festivals in North and South Carolina.


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