Welcome to another week of Comacan Questions! This week we spoke with a skateboarder and artist whose work we personally first saw in issues of the local skate magazine Crewzine. His art has always had his own personal touch and we are stoked to share some more information about his work, creative process, and more. Please enjoy this week’s interview with Jeff Coopman.
What Inspired you to start creating art?
Well, I’ve always had a talent for doing drawings/illustrations since I was a kid. They were crude back then but better than most to the point where people would notice. I still did it as I got older but never really painted or anything like that. It was actually skateboarding that got me to start doing paintings and more artwork in general, and it was the photography and artwork involved in skateboarding that sort of pulled me towards skateboarding to try it in the first place. I actually remember when I started skating, looking back on old photos of skateboarding in the 1980’s, and people painted all over the griptape on their board, and I thought “How come people don’t do that now?” So, I started doing that to my own griptape. Simple stuff at first. I managed to finally find paint pens at The Hobby Shop in St. Catharines when it was still around and found out later that acrylic paint and a paintbrush worked fine. After doing that a lot, I found I developed an urge to paint and started painting canvases and it just went from there.
What do you draw inspiration from today for your artwork?
All kinds of things really. Life, overhearing pieces of conversations on the street, reading, movies, other artwork, current events, and things that just pop into my head. The flashing forty ounce for example came from a sign that said “Flashing 40” referring to when the light is flashing, go 40km. I looked at the sign and an anthropomorphic forty-ounce character revealing himself tearing off his own label popped into my head and was an instant classic after I drew it.
What does skateboarding mean to you?
I started skateboarding late at 19. I’m 41 now and still do it. I’ve seen all kinds of people come and go and I wonder “Why do I still do it? Why does it always pull me back? Even with all the negative stereotypes that surround it as you get older…” I think it’s the fact that it makes the whole word a fun and more interesting place. You find yourself going to the most grimy places or the most boring places ever that no one would usually go, but if it’s got a great spot to skate you’re gonna hop on a bus, skate all the way there or get in your car and go there, check it out and have a blast! I also think it’s one the most creative things you can do, but in a physical way. I’d rather skate 100 times over going to the gym or riding a bike, because there’s all sorts of possibilities or ways to challenge yourself in skating. Finally, it’s not just skating, it’s the art, the music, the visuals in photo and video, the articles in Thrasher Magazine. It was everything I was into before I got into skateboarding. So, what it means to me in short, I guess is it’s the most creative you can be in a physical activity.
Does skateboarding influence your art and vice versa?
Skateboarding and the art, people, words, etc. influences my artwork all the time! The other way around…not so much. I mean, sometimes I’d rather go with a certain board because of the graphic or the artist that did the art and it sometimes gets me hyped to skate, but other than that, not really.
Do you sell your artwork?
Yes, and I’m so thankful to anyone and everyone that’s bought something from me…from the smallest sticker to the biggest painting. I mean, my artwork has reached as far as Japan, and I sit back and think about it sometimes and it doesn’t seem real. Very humbled and very thankful.
Where can people view what’s for sale?
My Instagram account! @cz1881. I also have a website, www.artofjeffcoopman.com, but I need to update it.
Do you make custom pieces?
All the time!
Anyone you’d like to thank?
Many thanks to all the people that have purchased my art on clothes, stickers, paintings and more. My Mom, my Dad and my sister who have always been there for me and supported me from day one. My cousin Matthew for giving me my first hand me down complete, Mike Graveline, John Bergsma, Mike Todd, Chad MacDonald, Dan Pheos, Fred Levy, Todd Francis, Tony Miorana, Mike and James Urquhart, Cameron Shennan, Devon Blood, Victor Mutant, Tyler FTW Woodhouse…. there’s a lot more but those are the ones that come to mind right now!