Deirdre Hughes, Staff Writer
The term “new age media” has taken on yet another identity as an Emoji. In a surprising intersection of pop culture and classical art practices, Yung Jake, a California-based artist, has gained notoriety for creating portraits of celebrities using only Emojis.
The idea of new media has always lurked ominously in the corner of the art world, and it is often met with terror by established artists. Audiences have seen the emergence of digital art grow alongside the increasing societal dependence on technology in the past several decades. New forms of video and computer-based artworks evolve constantly, and artists and critics alike are left questioning whether each new practice should be perceived as legitimate.
The idea of using Emojis as the sole tool for creating a digital painting seemed childish and one dimensional at first. It calls to mind a toddler gone wild with the Emojis on his mother’s iPhone. However, in both practice and subject matter, Jake appeals to a larger and more current demographic. Emojis are now (perhaps frighteningly) considered an integral form of communication used by millions of people worldwide, particularly among the younger generations. And by choosing to portray celebrities, most notably Kim Kardashian, Jake demands the attention of even the most inartistic viewers. Kardashian is one of the most recognizable figures in pop culture today, and the surprisingly accurate portrayal of her is likely to grab most people’s attention.
Down to her pouted lips and perfectly arched brows, Jake’s portrayal of the infamous Kardashian is quite realistic. The ingenuity continues upon further study of the piece, as the layers of individual Emojis start to separate. It is a work of art that you will want to study simply because it is interesting, not because you feel pressured by the slightly pretentious overly interested viewer beside you.
Even more impressively, Jake is a man of many trades. Besides his innovative spin on portraiture, Jake is also an up-and-coming rapper. Some artists would claim that his artwork suffers on account of his multiple careers and that he is unfocused and exceeding his abilities. I would argue that he is simply adapting to his own generation. In a time where technology expedites all artistic processes and their subsequent successes and failures, it is imperative for artists to simultaneously create and produce new products.
So, go check it all out. Even his music is worth a listen.