Innocence and naiveté answer clumsy propositions for sex in the work of Audrey Jones.
In the late 19th century, Southern California attracted misfits, idealists, and entrepreneurs with few ties to anyone or anything. Swamis, spiritualists, and other self-proclaimed religious authorities quickly made their way out West to forge new faiths. Independent book publishers, motivational speakers, and metaphysical-minded artists and writers then became part of the Los Angeles landscape. City of the Seekers examines how the legacy of this spiritual freedom enables artists to make creative work as part of their practices.
Anyone who's been on Tinder knows that it's not so much a dating site as it is an app resembling GrubHub or Uber, only instead of food or a ride, the commodity is sex. But for California-based artist Audrey Jones, Tinder became much more than a mere digital prelude to intercourse: it provided a source of inspiration for a series of alternately hilarious and heartbreaking comic illustrations that reflect the sad, sorry state of dating today.
Exaggerated, grotesque characteristics define the signature styles of American illustrators such as Robert Crumb, Raymond Pettibon, and Ralph Bakshi. By physically satirizing their subjects, the artists set the stage for an inevitably droll and/or provocative encounter with the audience. Similarly, the malformed, distorted men in Jones' single-panel drawings appear disproportionate and off-kilter, occupying a lonely, sex-starved universe where proposals for lovemaking are reasonably answered with the artist's requests for bacon sandwiches, mozzarella sticks, spaghetti, fried fish, and mini corndogs.
"I said 'yes' to as many potential suitors as I could and made illustrations based on the conversations, or first things they would say to me," Jones tells Creators. "It was mainly derived as a response to the many questions my family had about about my dating life and why I was single."
From a young age, Jones turned to art as a spiritual outlet, and she decided to pursue the path of professional photography. "I became obsessive with documenting my surroundings and seeking places/scenes that somehow reflected what I was feeling but unable to say," she explains.
After attending college at the University of Georgia, Jones moved to New York City, then California. She began teaching photography and running public art education classes while also working with at a creative space for photographers called RayKo Photo Center.
"Californians are the luckiest people on earth. We live in such a visually stunning place you can't help find a way to find inspiration from your surroundings. I don't think I realized how important nature was to my wellbeing and creative processes until I moved here," Jones says. "I feel like no matter what medium one works, in there are resources and places to share or make your art."
A trained photographer, Jones turned to illustration when she found that she couldn't convey certain ideas in photography. "I'm not that great at drawing from life, so I generally just draw what's in my head," she says. "I suppose I seek to provide humor in art and comment on the ironies of everyday life. It's a tricky endeavor to tie humor into art without making it trite or cheesy."
As illustrated by Jones, the men of Tinder supply earnest quips and dubious inquiries in the form of punctuation-less statements and telegram-like blips. One-liners abound amid the pheromone-fueled frenzy, copied from ancillary apps like Flints and pasted into a robust yet rudimentary messaging platform that inevitably makes blunt, misguided courtship seem even more awkward and out of place. In the end, the comic results of Jones' dalliances are simultaneously horrible, humanizing, and heartfelt, with cries for love often reduced to simple pleas for physical and emotional nourishment. Check out the series below: