JON-MICHAEL BARIBAULT is an artist living and working in Providence who creates sci-fi inspired conceptual surrealism. He has a background in architecture, design, and fine art. His primary medium of choice is acrylic paint, but also enjoys creating ink drawings, digital media, and screen printed images. His artistic concept focuses on the relationship between architecture, the built environment, and the subconscious mind. Drawing upon geometric themes, he superimposes structural framework onto organic matter to create spaces that can only exist in the dreamlike landscapes of his work. The imagery alludes to anatomical elements such as brains, tumors, and flesh while the intrusive presence of the harsh geometry within these “brainscapes” represents how humans live in a world created by fellow humans. His use of vibrant color adds a layer of whimsical surrealism illustrating the illusory experience of this subconscious phenomenon. Jon-Michael’s work seeks to illustrate the modern “indoor” lifestyle and its perpetuation of humanity’s disproportionate integration into the artificial environment. This ever-present exposure to the manmade world is undeniably rooted within our mind, manifesting itself in our memories as well as our dreams.
Obviously, color is a significant part of your work and draws the viewer in.
How do you decide what color palette to use for each piece?
It depends on whether I am working digitally or not. Most physical paintings I make will have a digital color study that is a rough idea of what I would like the colors to look like. From there I adjust as the painting goes on. I actually find it much more difficult to make decisions in regards to color when I am working purely digitally, because there are INFINITE possibilities, and I know I can always change things instantly if I want to. It makes it harder to make concrete decisions when I know that it can’t be easily changed. When I am painting, it forces me to make a more informed decision and is usually easier to make those decisions.
Do you prefer one medium over the other?
I prefer to use acrylic paints because I love to work with my hands. Literally, my favorite thing to do ever is paint while listening to music. It’s simple, it’s just where I feel most comfortable. Also, as stated in the previous question, it is sometimes a little too overwhelming for me when I work digitally, because of the endless and seemingly less permanent decisions. I go into full blown hoarder mode, create like 100 layers just for the hell of it, and then have trouble deciding on the different options I’ve presented myself.
You also paint large scale murals! How does your process shift based on the scale of a project?
The process is largely the same as if I was painting a smaller piece on canvas or wood panel. The main difference though is that I like to pre-mix the majority of the major colors that are going to be in the project, that way I’m not scratching my head too much when I’m starting it. Obviously I end up mixing and changing colors as I go, but pre-mixing colors gives me a good head start.
What music do you like to listen to as you paint?
My favorite music is progressive rock/metal, so there is always a lot of that blasting in the studio when I am working. I definitely think that over the years, the music I listen to (those genres in particular) has strongly influenced the form my artwork has taken. Each song feels like a new place that I can explore over and over again, and it feels new every single time I listen to them. I guess I strive to create similar places in my paintings. The structural forms in metal music feel so much more tangible to me than any other genre of music, and I think that is why I love it so much. Some of my favorite bands are Between the Buried and Me, The Dillinger Escape Plan, MGMT, Protest the Hero, The Fall of Troy, Tool, Cave In, Orbs, Mastodon, The Mars Volta, Grimes, Haken... (this list can almost literally go on forever and ever).
How often do your dreams affect/inspire your work?
If I’m being honest, I don’t feel as though my dreams inspire my work too drastically. I can say though, that when I am juuuust on the verge of falling asleep and I am in that weird mind space that teeters on the boundary of consciousness, some weird stuff can manifest! I will often visualize places that consist purely of shape and color, and that’s something that definitely affects my work. When I close my eyes at night, I often think about the project I am working on, or plan to work on. And I think doing that helps me to make decisions and develop the piece subconsciously.
If you could change anything about the world, what would it be? What would you keep the same?
If I could change one thing about the world, I would want everybody to be more mindful (myself included). I feel that a large majority of people live their lives based on concepts that were taught to them at a young age, and never bothering to question whether they are right for them or the world. Things such as diet, religion, political viewpoints - ideas that we inherit at a young age that some people never consider again in their life.
In addition to that, I wish people would be more conscious about when they are using their smartphone (again, myself included). Something seemingly as small as recording an entire song at a live music show. When people do that, they are robbing themselves of the actual experience of the live performance, so that they can watch the video maybe once after the fact, if at all. It may not seem like much in the moment, but all of those lost experiences accumulate over time.
You were recently published in an indie magazine, congrats!!
Tell us more? What was that experience like for you? Would you consider making books?
Thanks! Yes, I was published in Loner Magazine, an indie magazine and clothing brand that showcases artists from all over the world, and provides affordable skate-wear. It is a great publication and I highly recommend subscribing to them! It was awesome to see my artwork alongside the work of other great artists!
I have never really considered making books. However, something I have always been interested in is making conceptual album art for bands and artists. I have always been fascinated by album art because I feel it is just as important for the listening experience as the music itself. Take the album art for Dark Side of the Moon as an example. The album art for that record just feels right, and every time I see that iconic image I am instantly reminded of the musical journey that album takes you on. Each album booklet that is full of lyrics is like it’s own kind of book.
We’ve seen your work around Providence more and more, and are excited to follow what you do next. What are some of your upcoming happenings? Where are some of your favorite creative spaces in the area?
Yeah! I am going to have some work hanging at the AS220 main gallery on Empire St for the month of September. AS220 is one of my favorite places in Providence. It is a hub of creativity and has been a huge part of my life ever since I was a teenager. The food, the gigs, the galleries, the festivals, everything they do is amazing.
I have also recently completed a mural in the building formerly known as Firehouse 13, which is now Goodwill Engine Co. It is being renovated into an international hostel and music venue and it is an amazing place! It is full of murals and rich design. I am so happy to have had the opportunity to contribute something to a place that cool.
FRAMES IN FOCUS: Cut Vinyl
Vinyl isn't just for text on gallery walls, but rather a whole world of spatial design and opportunity! From window decor, to removable and reusable floor decals, we think of adhesive backed vinyl as an ace in the hole of sorts with nearly endless applications.
Basically a Big Sticker
We stock a variety of custom printable adhesive-backed vinyls for temporary or long-term interior and exterior projects of any scale. From removable, smooth, white satin or textured surface wall materials, to translucent frosted window films, there is an array of surfaces, properties and price points to choose from. All of our wall and window films can be printed in full, photo-quality color, or spot color matched, for precisely die-cut text and stunning graphic presentation. Vinyl text and graphics can be adhered to any interior or exterior surface on floors, walls, windows and facades. Additional vinyl films and foils can be applied and morphed onto concrete, brick, wood and stone - to appear as a permanent or temporary custom-painted graphic surface. Vinyl Films and Foil samples are available upon request.
Back in the lab…
Can you guess where this brand new cut vinyl design is located in our studio?
We had a lot of fun testing just how detailed we could get with this process, and we are happy with how it turned out. No tree branch was lost in the process…! But really, the precision of our die-cuter and attention to detail when installing makes for a seamless and lovely affect.
Did you know we also offer consultation and installation services? Contact us with your interior design and exhibition needs - we love putting our thinking caps on and seeing your ideas come to life!
3, 2, 1…action!
Enjoy this short behind the scenes video of our process of preparing cut vinyl - printing, cutting, peeling, applying.
Let's make this last bit of summer last! Park festivities, live music, poetry readings, maker's markets, gallery openings, and more...
Don’t miss the currents shows in their Project Space, Reading Room, Main Gallery, Window, and Resident Gallery!
On the Lawn 2019
Saturday August 17th
Live music, 30+ vendors, games, and more!
stay silent and Trade Pop-up Present: Day Trill
Saturday August 24th
Doors open at 4pm and close at 8pm - tap link for more details + tickets
Regional DJ sets, art activations, food trucks, good dranks + variety of games!
Saturday August 24th
The Arcade Providence
Art in the Park brings the books of an iconic children's book to life through hands-on art projects led by local artist Keri King.
Thursdays August 15+22
Slater Mill Community Festival
Sunday August 25th
Old Slater Mill
ARMS Poetry Series Presents: Countess B
Plant City Providence
“Material Roots”, curated by Sarah Swift:
AnnaLiisa Ariosa-Benston, Tzu-Ju Chen, Molly Clare Coyle,
Caroline Rose Kaufman, Erin Myles, Seanna Poirier, Maggie Semrau, Sarah Swift
Artist Talk: Thursday August 22nd, 7pm
The Creative Marriage of Words and Images
Saturday August 17th
Illustration Studies Building (ISB), Gallery
55 Canal Walk, Providence, RI
Jocelyn Cabral, Tayo Heuser, Nina Ruelle, Gregory Stevens, Jon Watanabe, Isabel Watson, Mollie Webster & Dan Wood
Gallery Hours: Tuesday – Saturday from 10am – 6pm
233 Westminster Street, Providence, RI 02903
JP Terlizzi: Descendants
August 15th – September 13th
Opening Reception: August 15th 18, 5–9 pm