We had the good fortune of connecting with Jasser Membreno and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jasser, where are your from? We’d love to hear about how your background has played a role in who you are today?
I am from Los Angeles, specifically born and raised in South Central LA. I grew up on the grittier side of LA so I hold a sentimental touch with the simple things/parts of the city. Most of my immediate surroundings dealt with social injustice, lack of health, mental, and educational resources; amongst other vital humane necessities. I mention this because this environment taught me to dream and work hard. As a kid I used art as a way to filter my surroundings, making my imagination the important element which would help me understand life and have a unique perspective toward the constant battle out on the streets. At times the environment outside felt like the antagonist to my story but over time I learned to fully embrace it and appreciate it. I guess it’s kind of like the yin to my yang. Today I continuously visit my home and focus on the greater good of how I can help and give back to others. I am motivated as a creator to bring more light to the community from where I come from, ultimately helping others have a better perspective and chance to live a better life.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My art is an interpretation of my dreams filtered through my everyday life in the city of Angels. It is figurative and fantastical; the characters, the landscapes, buildings, and objects live simultaneously in the past present and future, usually of worlds full of decay, mystery, and invention. In some ways, since I was a child, I have always embraced a dark, surreal, yet coy and fantasy filter. I see the world with a somewhat sarcastically loony perspective which evolves into a manifestation of my own worlds. In these worlds, I like to paint an epic journey through a surrealistic narrative made up of dwelling creatures and landscapes. I find joy in the imaginative process, taking the ordinary, and making it not so ordinary. Although I consider my work to be free in its nature and very much in its own world, it all comes from my daily adventures from the moment I wake until the moment I am asleep. And then when I am sleeping and dreaming that’s where the real magic happens; so, I guess it’s a 24/7 cycle of looney, dark, magical scenes that I get to bring to life every day. So, my art career is something that has developed from my love for art and the overall creative process. It hasn’t always been easy but with tons of hard work and commitment, I’ve definitely been able to get some of the things I want done. There is still so much more to create, this is a challenge but also the way I stay focused and inspired. Creating is a natural outlet for me so I am happy to produce my work and share it with the world. I want the world to know that I will be releasing a couple of new pieces this year and in early 2021. I also want them to know that their support means a great deal to me and is also what inspires me from a distance. Thanks!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I spent the last 10 years in the downtown LA area, specifically the arts district. I would definitely start there. It’s Thursday early evening, I pick up my friend Stephen from the airport, he’s been on a short flight so I know he’s not tired; we drive back to the Arts District. The night starts off at Wurstkuche for a quick dinner bite, we then check out the art over at Art Share, following that he loves video games so we check out a bar-cade called 82. We end the night at Angel City Brewery over some delicious craft Cerveza. Friday Wake up and head out for some breakfast. I take him to a small bakery called Gigi’s in Echo Park. After breakfast, I take him to the main street in DTLA, Broadway. We visit old theatres like the Ace Hotel, Bradbury building, Clifton’s, Orpheum, Eastern Building, and more. For lunch, I take him over to the Grand Central Market so he can try a variety of different street food. After that, we check out the Broad Museum. Towards the early eve, we hit the Biltmore hotel for a drink, then we head out to Little Tokyo to have some tasty Ramen. We end the night at a small karaoke bar called Tokyo Beat. Saturday It’s the weekend so there’s nothing like a trip to the beach. We head out to Venice Beach. Visit the Venice Canals then walk the beach path over to the Santa Monica Pier. After this, we head to a restaurant off of Lincoln Blvd called Casablanca, out of all things I love the tortillas and salsa here. After stuffing our faces, we head over to the Bergamot station to visit a friend who has a studio there. We hang there the rest of the evening into the night with friends and experience some local art and music. We end the night with some street tacos off of Sunset and Alvarado. Sunday Head to San Pedro pier to experience a wide range of seafood options. After this, we head over to the Sunken City for some cool photos and then over to Long Beach. The MOLA is open so we make a stop there. We then visit my sister and her fiancé, who are Long Beach residents. We get dressed on the nicer side, then head out to a night on Pine Street. Monday We have breakfast at the pantry in Downton LA. After breakfast we do the Hollywood Blvd thing for shits and giggles. For lunch we go to a small sushi place in Silverlake called Koda Sushi. After sushi we cut back over to Lacma to see some more art then head to a restaurant named Animal for dinner. We end the night at The Echo in Echo Park, for live music and more good times. . Tuesday Stephen is a screenwriter and loves to read so I take him to the Main Library in DTLA, this place is a goldmine and a place where I spent a lot of time. We then head over to Chinatown; eat some delicious dim-sum and he shops for souvenirs. After this I take him over to the Art Brewery on Main street. We visit a friend’s studio and hang out till the evening. In the evening we head over to the Hollywood Bowl to experience some live music. Wednesday Breakfast at Nick’s Cafe and then head over to Griffith Park for a light hike. After that we check out the Observatory. We then head to the LA Zoo; we fight some pandas and then head out to Morton’s for a tasty steak dinner. We end the night over at the Intercontinental Sky Bar. Thursday Wake up and have breakfast over in Highland Park at a small Salvadoran Restaurant called Casuela’s. We visit a couple of old friends and then we head back to LAX. 🙂
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Right away my thoughts go to a lady who I consider a good friend and mentor, Amy Danger. I met Amy back in the fall of 2004 at Calarts. She was subbing for one of our professors and was in charge of teaching a color and design class. In her class, she intricately broke down design, color theory, and taught me the overall psychology and communication methods that are used in visual media; which in my case applied to art, design, film, and animation. Her breakdown of my work from the very get-go felt very attuned with the way I think and create. Amy’s critics were always constructive, blunt, and quite honest. Most of the time I didn’t want to hear what she had to say because I knew there was going to be a deconstruction of my concepts and that I would have to almost start over at times. Over the years I realized that every time she challenged my work, it was with the intent to take it to the next level, and for that I am grateful. This relationship has become a mentorship and has kept us in touch throughout the years. Recently I delivered to Amy a rough draft of my new book, which is written as a surreal fictional narrative. The constructive feedback that I have received from Amy is already taking its course, making me deconstruct and reexamine my story. Currently, I am jumping into an editing phase after months of research. I know I have tons of work to do but I’m excited to see the results of this project because I know that with Amy’s mentorship this is going to turn out awesome. The tentative release date for this book is Spring of 2021, with a working title of Azil, “The Epic Dream”. Another quick shout out goes to one of my favorite books which has been a guide to following my dreams, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. “We are travelers on a cosmic journey, stardust, swirling and dancing in the eddies and whirlpools of infinity. Life is eternal. We have stopped for a moment to encounter each other, to meet, to love, to share. This is a precious moment. It is a little parenthesis in eternity.” ― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist