While Jack Greer is a multidiscinplinary fine artist and affiliate of the Still House Group, an artist-run organization of studios and exhibition space based in Redhook, Brooklyn, he is also an entreprising designer making custom patchwork for brands such as Nike and Opening Ceremony. With an upcoming launch of custom edition patches produced in conjunction with the 8-Ball Zine Fair, we stopped in to visit his studio to witness the limited run sets of artist patches, available for sale this Friday at The Newsstand.
How does patch-making fit alongside your art work? Is it totally separate?
I’ve done a lot of fashion with patches, jackets with patches, but I keep that separate from my artwork – I don’t really want integration of both practices, as one seems more commercial and straightforward, which is great for clothing and patches, but I don’t want to align it with my drawings and applications of my art. It’s nice to have both operating in the same studio, but they are different for me and each takes up my attention separately.
How did you get your start making patches?
Through pure default, I had started doing making patches for a Nike Concept space that I worked out of three years, offering DIY customization for people. Although I always done sewing and patchwork on my own, this offered me exposure to new types of software and machinery, heat pressing, embroidery machines, all that, and I continued on with that process post-Nike. The concept space was inevitably coming to a close, and when it was time, and they didn’t know what they were going to do with the machines, I offered to buy them and they gave them to me.
How long does the whole process take? What’s involved?
Smaller elements of each project can take a varied amount of time, depending on detail – it can take a long time, at times, because the machines can only do so many stitches per minute. The the artwork itself needs to be done in relatively specific ways, and the best art is usually like an old-style tattoo: hard lines and closed off areas. It's not going to be able to recreate a watercolor, for instance. I usually retrace the artwork that’s sent in with a black sharpie, so it has a nice line-weight and is nice and clean, giving a bold image with no sketch lines. The whole process would take roughly 45 minutes of prep work, and 45 minutes of machine labor.
What do patches symbolize for you? What do they represent?
I just think it’s nice, or it’s always nice for an artist to translate an idea of theirs into another medium – usually this is done on such a high-cost basis, it’s hard to do these things on your own, much in the way that it’s hard to do a hardcover book edition, or starting your own tee shirt company. It requires high limits. So when that can be undercut, that’s awesome – I think that’s why artists are excited about doing a small-edition of patches.
Can you speak more to the editions you made for the 8-Ball Zine Series?
Well, this is a one-off project for me, and Lele Saveri and I decided to team up to do a series of patches for six or seven artists. I’ve made each for sale in an edition of ten. We went back and forth to see which artists' aesthetic adheres to this type of patchwork – and we were looking for artists that understood multiples or already worked in publishing or as an illustrator – understanding the purpose of another it being another medium to translate their work. But after this, I am sticking with keeping the patch-making for my own.