By Johnny Riddle, Executive Director at Franklinton Arts District
Jimbo Tamoro will be the inaugural exhibiting artist at the new Bridge Gallery Presented By Franklinton Arts District with An Exploration of Scribbles. Recently, I joined Jimbo for his weekly guilty pleasure lunch at west side Chinese restaurant Supreme Buffet to chat about his career, upcoming exhibition and what excites him about the Columbus art scene.
Johnny: How long have you been working as a professional artist? How did you get your start?
Jimbo: I’ve been working professionally as an artist for the past 13 years. After art school, I was working random, menial jobs when I came across a Craigslist ad for an old gallery, 83 Gallery. I got a show there, which was in the basement of a house at the time, and, from there, it continued to progress with more and more opportunities to exhibit.
Johnny: Your body of work consists primarily of portraits created with scribbles using Bic pens. How did you adopt this unique approach?
Jimbo: I was working at High Street Tattoo and figuring out how to be highly productive while requiring the least amount of time and supplies. All I needed was a pen and a piece of paper. After about 50 pieces of breakneck creating, my natural tendency to be immersed in technique and its tedium came through. Eventually, a style that I adopted for speed and output, evolved into one where I spend many hours on each piece.
Johnny: Who are the people you choose to capture with your portraits?
Jimbo: Those around me. I work with a bunch of tattooers. They’re more blue-collar and rough around the edges. It’s not the same as going to a commercial gallery or anything like that. But still, artists, nonetheless. On the days that I’m [at High Street Tattoo], if any of us have any kind of art project or just want to create, what we do is drink bottles of wine and do photoshoots. We bring clothes or props or whatever. There’s a sense of brotherhood. Like we’re doing this for each other. But we’re also trying to make cool stuff for each other, too.
Johnny: Is there friendly competition regarding this cooperative practice?
Jimbo: One hundred percent. At least for me. When I first started working [at High Street Tattoo], which was in October of that year, I found out that we had an art Secret Santa. Everyone would make a piece of art for another person and that blew my mind. While we all love each other, we want ours to blow everyone else’s piece out of the water.
Johnny: With your upcoming exhibition An Exploration of Scribbles, what do you hope to convey to people who may be new to your style and body of work?
Jimbo: An understanding of the technique and experiencing the work at three distances. From far away, each looks like a pretty realistic portrait. As you get closer, you start to recognize the image is made of scribbles. Then, from a few inches, the piece almost looks like nothing. I want guests to experience the works at each distance.
Johnny: You will be the first exhibiting artist in the new Bridge Gallery Presented By Franklinton Arts District. What excites you about this opportunity?
Jimbo: I’m so honored, humbled and stoked to be the first artist. Galleries like [the Bridge Gallery Presented By Franklinton Arts District] allow artists to experiment with creative freedom that I have not found elsewhere in Columbus. That makes me happy. And the fact that I am part of it makes me even happier.
Johnny: What is the best thing about the Columbus art scene right now?
Jimbo: It’s what’s happening in the Franklinton Arts District. It’s the energy and vibe of each and every space there and what artists are able to do. It’s hard to even put into words, but it’s very exciting.
Explore Jimbo Tamoro’s artwork and the new Bridge Gallery Presented By Franklinton Arts District (400 West Rich, Franklinton, 43215) at the opening reception at Franklinton Fridays, Jan. 14, from 6-10 p.m. Admission is free and refreshments will be available. An Exploration of Scribbles will be on view through Feb. 5 by appointment. To learn more and book your appointment, visit franklintonartsdistrict.com.