Jarom Vogel’s artwork is full of movement: it leaps out through the dynamic human forms that range throughout his colorful and energetic illustrations, but it’s literal too. Using animation and augmented reality, he brings his illustrations to life with depth and movement, exploring what’s possible on the frontiers of visual art.
Jarom spoke with us about using low-tech inspiration to find a high-tech style, his love of the underrated selection tool, and the joy of teaching the world to Procreate.
Hey Jarom! Where are you from?
Near Salt Lake City originally, but my wife and I recently moved to the the Portland, Oregon area so she can attend physical therapy school.
Your style is instantly recognizable. How would you describe it?
Hmm, good question. I occasionally get people asking what my style is called, and I never know what to say! I try to focus on strong shapes and textures, and I really want my pieces to convey a sense of energy and adventure. I want things to feel elegant and exciting and happy all at once. I don’t know that I always accomplish all of that, but that’s what I’m aiming for.
How long did it take you to develop your style, and what advice would you give to artists trying to find their own?
I kind of fell into my current style about a year after I graduated from university, but it was definitely a process before that. In high school I did a bunch of paper cutout birds, which I think was where I really started thinking about shapes. In college I used Con-Tact paper and an X-acto knife to mask out my shapes, and filled them in with acrylic paints. It was tedious. When I discovered the selection tool and texture brushes in Procreate it felt really natural to switch over.
I would encourage people to be patient with themselves, keep drawing, and never be afraid to try new things! Also draw what makes you happy, even if other people don’t seem to get it yet. And look at lots of different artists for inspiration - trying to copy just one or two doesn't tend to go very well.
Can you tell us a little about your workflow?
Sure! It varies a bit depending on what kind of project it is. For client projects it's pretty straightforward. I start with thumbnail sketches, refine them into a more finished/detailed sketch, then basically trace over that with the selection tool to build my shapes on different layers. After that I do a lot of fiddling around with colors and textures and shadows until I'm happy with it. Personal projects are mostly the same, but the sketch phase is all over the place - sometimes I doodle something then just keep going until it's finished, sometimes I find a years-old sketch that I liked but never finished for some reason.
We’re constantly blown away by your parallax pieces. What drew you to coding and did you teach yourself?
Thanks! I've always been a computer nerd, so I guess coding was sort of a natural progression. I had an IT job in college where I ended up with a lot of down time, and very quickly ran out of things to look at on the internet. I decided to learn how to make my own website for my illustration work because it was interesting to me and still felt at least a little relevant to my job. It took a while to figure out how to make anything non-terrible, but I started playing around with the idea of mixing art and code as part of my site, and it eventually turned into this. Coding and drawing are very different ways of thinking for me, so switching off between them can feel like a nice break.
With technology advancing so rapidly and the popularity of VR and AR, where do you see the future of art heading? Do you think AR Artists will become more prominent?
Honestly I have no idea! People have responded really positively to the things I've done, but I don't know how much of that is just the novelty of it. I'm really interested in using AR to push my art forward in ways that are more clever and less about the gimmick though, if that makes sense.
What’s your favorite type of job?
It doesn't happen very often, but I love it when I get a job with enough creative freedom that it feels like I can draw almost anything I want, and get paid for it. It feels like I've cheated the system somehow! Another rare one is a job where I get to mix code and art - like I mentioned before, I think that sort of thing is a fun challenge and lets me think in a lot of different ways.
What’s your favorite tool in Procreate, and what’s one tool you wish you had?
There are so many good options! If I had to choose though, I would have to say the selection tool. I think I use it far more than was ever intended. I do wish there was a way to quickly toggle my sketch layer from QuickMenu - I often have anywhere from 40-70 layers and scrolling around to find the sketch over and over again can get tedious.
You did a Skillshare class on Procreate last year, and to this day it remains a favorite among our users due to your easy to follow steps and clear explanations. We’ve just seen you’ve released another class on coding and Procreate. Did you ever imagine that you would be essentially teaching artists around the world, and do you plan to offer more regular classes or tutorials in the future?
I am constantly shocked at how positive the response has been to that class! I'm not sure what I was expecting, but I'm pretty camera-shy and it was way out of my comfort zone. It's been really amazing to hear from so many people who took the class and found it helpful. I should confess that the nice people at Skillshare filmed and edited that first class - I did the new one on my own, and I have no clue what I'm doing. So far everyone has been very kind about that too, though. Basically people are a lot nicer than I expected - who knew?
Anyway, I would like to do more classes and tutorials, but I want to make sure that I have something new to say so I don’t just rehash the same things over and over again.
What’s your greatest inspiration?
Nature, books, movies, music, other artists. Life, I guess? I wish I had a better answer to this question. Jake Parker talks about filling your "creative bank account", and how you need to be out in the world living your life and having experiences so that you can make relatable, interesting artwork. I think I could do a better job of that, but art is always in the back of my mind, and sometimes an idea just clicks when I'm doing something that seems completely unrelated.