By Bernie Petit
Creativity in its purest form.
That’s what Jason Woodberry’s digital illustration of a young child blowing sci-fi-inspired bubbles signifies.
“The overall idea is the birth of imagination,” he said. “It’s that imaginative free spirit aspect that allows us to create the craziest things.”
The piece, titled “Dark Matter,” is one of the 20 artworks selected for the Arts & Science Council’s (ASC) ArtPop program. The second-year program will showcase the work of local artists on billboards across the Charlotte region throughout 2015, thanks to an ASC partnership with Adams Outdoor Advertising.
The feeling of seeing your work displayed on a billboard can be hard to describe.
“For a moment, you’re like, wow, that’s mine – who else is looking at it?” he said. “I’m thinking, ‘I made this in the corner of my apartment on an Ikea desk.’
“It’s humbling just to have people like your stuff, especially when it’s on a billboard. That kind of validates you in one way or another.”
It’s been a long time coming for Woodberry to reach this point in his career. Originally from Virginia Beach, he was pursuing a music career and working at a home improvement store when decided to move to Charlotte on a whim in 2006.
He took his last paycheck, packed as much as he could fit into three suitcases and bought a Greyhound bus ticket.
“It was leap of faith,” he said. “I realized that if I’m going to try to maximize my potential, it wasn’t going to happen where I was.”
He also realized the music business wasn’t for him, and his move offered the lifelong fan of comics and anime the opportunity to pursue another passion – visual arts.
Woodberry met local graphic artist Marcus Kiser a year or two after moving to town and learned that the two shared the same interests. Kiser became a mentor to Woodberry, helping him find his niche.
“Comics and cartoons – ’80’s cartoons – probably had the most influence on my art style,” said Woodberry, recalling such childhood favorites as “The Transformers” and “SilverHawks.” “They weren’t as literal.”
His ArtPop piece meshes those comic sensibilities with elements of science fiction, such as the noticeable markings on the child’s face and the space-like atmosphere found in the bubbles. His six-year-old son’s unencumbered creativity inspired the piece.
“When my son draws something, he’ll present it to me like, ‘Look what I drew.’ In his mind, he’s not thinking ‘Am I going to get 30 Facebook likes?’” Woodberry said. “Despite being at the mercy of everybody watching, he obviously doesn’t care. I wish we could all be that way.”