from capilano to new york
Jonathan Reid Sevigny takes on dinosaurs with pencils

//JJ Brewis, Art Director

"Every night when I dream, I’m given a brand new collection of images to play with," says artist Jonathan Reid Sevigny. Jonathan, a graduate of Capilano University, presently lives and creates in his native Montreal, where he is working on his BFA at Concordia. "Montreal is home. [It's] where my heart is," he says. "I grew up in the woods of Quebec and eagerly moved to the city as soon as I finished high school." Though moving to Montreal was an integral part of his coming-of-age, Jonathan also found a huge piece of his creative power during his two-year-stint on the West coast.

During his time in the animation program at Capilano, Jonathan honed skills that would later build and expand his portfolio into something bigger than he’d imagined. "I took animation at Cap, and I would highly recommend it. I had to take figure-drawing classes three times a week for two years. It did wonders to my understanding of movement, proportion, [and] weight." A quick glance at some of his work would affirm this statement. Most of his work, large images filled with clustered drawings of stick-thin young men, household objects, and weaponry, among other items, seem to draw immensely from folklore and an over-run imagination, though obviously informed on the technical side as well. "I learned how to draw during that two-year period. It was fun. By the time I graduated, it was pretty clear that I wasn’t made for work in an animation studio, so I went back to school in fine arts. No regrets though, I loved my time there."

Before he was booking gallery shows in New York City, Jonathan had creative spark from a young age. "As a kid my mom would buy me markers every other week so that I could draw out stories about dinosaur babies. I think she still has a huge stack of binders filled with the adventures of dino-babies." The prehistoric-styled drawings would provide great prototypes for the diverse iconography that shapes his portfolio. By packing a massive amount of objects and imagery in one piece, Jonathan's work seems to tell stories that can be interpreted various ways.
Though he describes his medium as simply pencil and paper, "the classics," a flip through his portfolio shows both a literal and figurative array of colour. In "Fan Fiction", Jonathan splashes the page with an array of pop cultural references, from The Archies to Tuxedo Mask and Sailor Moon. "Stitch Work" sees a trio of young ladies knitting scarves that all mount off of a young man's head.

"My subjects derive from nostalgic thought, personal relationships, worldly disasters, ancient cave drawings [and] the supernatural," he says. "Marcel Proust and Henry Darger have been without a doubt the greatest influences and I don’t think that will ever change."

The latter in particular is notably visible in his work. Darger's famous Vivian Girls project, a massive undertaking of over 15,000 images, was discovered only after his death. The style and iconography in Darger's illustrative style seem an easy point of reference that Reid Sevigny has expanded upon and updated. Jonathan has the confidence to back up his work, though. "If you’ve got the talent and there’s a certain voice behind your work that reaches out to people, I guarantee that it’ll eventually get the attention it deserves," he says. "If you think that your stuff kinda sucks, I hope you bought condoms for the giant orgy that is the art world."

For a young man who describes his age as "infinity" and answers his next step as "Hopefully pie. [But] I'll settle for cookies," Jonathan Reid Sevigny comes off as a tad ornery, but maybe this attitude plays back to inform his own catalogue. With imagery that reads like a children's book crossed with a gay military porno, his work is anything but usual – a feat that pays off in creating a name for himself. But he still sees his standpoint as another road mark on the way to something bigger.

"The truth is I’m just a simple boy with a simple life and simple dreams," he says. "From what I’ve witnessed in New York, it seems that it’s quite possible to make a name for yourself within the art world by simply knowing the right people and charming your way to the top, but I’d rather save all that energy and time and just put it into endlessly drawing pictures in my bed, because it’s what I love to do."

Jonathan, like many artists before him, saw enough in his work to shop it around and make others interested in it. "My greatest accomplishment was that impulse I had to pick up a pencil and decide that I was going to draw my thoughts on paper for the rest of my life," he explains. "I hope that I don’t get my hands cut off. If that happens, I won't know what to do with myself and I’ll cut my head off too… with my feet I guess."

//JJ Brewis, Art Director 

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