His Mad Mac Drives “Narrative” Exhibit: Illustrator Lance Jackson at SVSU University Art Gallery

Posted In: Arts & Entertainment, Artist Feature,   By: Mike Mosher

08th August, 2019     0

Lance Jackson <https://www.lancejackson.net> grew up in Livonia downstate, at studied painting and design at Washington University in St. Louis and then Rhode Island School of Design.  Moving to California, by age thirty he was well established as an illustrator for a major daily newspaper.

To the contemporary Design student at SVSU, Delta or Bay Arenac ISD Career Center, the idea of graphics without use of the desktop computer is unthinkable.  But long ago and far away, at the San Francisco Examiner in the 1980s (and later 1990s San Francisco Chronicle), Jackson was among the nation’s first to use the Macintosh as a creative, expressive drawing too.  Caricatures of Prince, Bruce Springsteen, Bo Diddley and Madonna were drawn upon the machine, making stylistic use of the limited 72 pixels per inch, black and white MacPaint program…yet purposely mouse-scratched, grainy and degraded, messed with.  Complexity added.  Expressively; the way an artist would.

Thirty years ago, as graphic capabilities of the Mac grew, Jackson further pushed and explored them.  In rich color illustrations he’d begin with video input, often a shot of his then-toddler son Chase (now an L.A. jazz vibraphonist), knick-knacks from Chinatown, friends’ guitars, and the kitchen sink.  This imagery upon multiple Photoshop’s layers, often distorted, blurred as if hurricane, colors turned up to 11, evocative and psychedelic, found favor on the covers of the era’s many computer magazines and ads for Silicon Valley corporations like Apple, Adobe, Cisco, Oracle, and the MacWorld Expo.  He also mastered vector graphics, some in long-forgotten early rivals to Adobe Illustrator. 

Jackson taught at City College of San Francisco, and at the California College of the Arts, and is involved in book illustration, courtroom sketches, and is still depicting public notables—oh, look at Mark Zuckerberg’s vapid grin!  Students and admirers will have a chance to grill him at SVSU on his technique and his tech. 

Most importantly, students from area colleges and high schools should see and study this show as the proud evidence of someone who’s made a good living all his life drawing pictures for publication, applying his practiced painting and figurative chops to the innovative depiction of notable persons, our society and big ideas.  There are few full-time professional Illustrators on newspaper staffs nowadays, but skilled free-lancers are valued and kept busy.

Lance Jackson’s work will be paired at the University Gallery with Wisconsin sculptor Rob Neilson, also admirably abstracting and distorting portraits through a savvy combination of technology and sensibility, yet in three dimensions.  The exhibit was curated and designed by SVSU University Gallery Coordinator Tisch Lewis.

“Narrative” at University Art Gallery, 

Saginaw Valley State University 7400 Bay Road, 48710. (989) 964-2291

August 19th - September 11, 2019

Artists’ Talk: September 5, from 3-4 in Arbury107

Reception: September 5th, 4 - 6 p.m.


Mike Mosher is Professor, Art/Communication Multimedia at SVSU.



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