With a love for expanding my cultural awareness, making an impression with individuality, and subverting imagery to conceptualize my reactions to society as well as my personal experiences, I found myself gravitating toward the punk subculture and mindset. I started to research punk ideologies to truly understand the movement so that my art could evolve authentically rather than merely slapping on an edgy label. Punk’s DIY and anti-establishment components especially align with my own beliefs.
Social media and technology has allowed people to serve as their own publicist, agent, producer, etc. This same one-man-band approach also applies to the way I have navigated my career as an artist. Perhaps this crafty independence stems from my nights in high school spent customizing clothes and concocting accessories. In addition to my recent practices of DIY methods, I have also experienced eleutheromania while completing my academic career. College did not encourage me to think for myself or expand my horizons while pursuing success. However, their attempt to keep me contained resulted in failure. Rather than conforming, my disillusionment inspired me to advocate for reform.
The past few years have involved transitioning from a student to a professional, learning to curate my online presence, marketing my work, migrating from Upstate New York to Brooklyn, and striving to grow from within. No obstacles or responsibilities hinder my development at this pivotal time. I may finally live for happiness rather than preparing for my future. My future has arrived. Although I have not focused much on creating new art in the past few years, this turning point has filled me with new visions to convey and vocalize. As an artist, I have always wanted to both be seen and heard. Now, I may return to that goal by creating new work. We never stop writing our book. However, times come when it is appropriate to conclude a chapter before embarking on the next. This is my new chapter. This is my moment.
Jason “King Leo” Neal is an emerging artist and graphic designer based in New York City. Since completing his BFA in spring of 2017, he has enjoyed opportunities involving other interests aside from art and design. Jason currently serves as a graphic designer to Vanilla Star Jeans and Hippie Laundry where he has contributed to their online presence and rebranding process. This opportunity has allowed him to blend his passion for design with his love for fashion, marketing, and public relations. However, the fashion industry and marketing is nothing new to the zealous creator. Jason previously interned in Manhattan’s Garment District with Evil Genius public relations/Artistix fashion. Here, he received the opportunity to work alongside Andy Hilfiger, fashion icon Tommy Hilfiger’s brother, and participate in several New York Fashion Weeks. Jason first interned with Overit, an Upstate New York marketing agency where he was enlightened with a stimulating introduction to the professional field.
In addition to professional experience, Jason has also curated his identity as an independent artist. The self-proclaimed “art-repreneur” has exhibited/sold work throughout Upstate New York’s Tri-City Area, New York City, and has art on display in Los Angeles. With a love for music and metaphors, Jason typically writes poetry to complement his visual work. The young visionary treats art and writing with a confessional approach. He views a blank canvas as a page in a journal, and the painting becomes an entry. Rather than following a motif or trademark style, Jason refers to his results of varied mediums and diverse subject matter as his “visual diary.”
Jason’s dream is to use contemporary tools such as social networking and media outlets to make art a more mainstream aspect of popular culture. People most likely have a favorite musician, actor, sports team, etc. despite having differing interests. However, Jason acknowledges that society’s general population and conversation does not include fine art or artists. This lack of recognition led to mild feelings of loneliness and a yearning for a sense of belonging when Jason was younger. However, he says “when you can’t find the place in which you belong, make that place. ‘Unprecedented’ does not mean ‘impossible.’” With the use of his artistic vision and productivity of fame, Jason hopes to one day lend a voice to the voiceless.