Today we’re joined by Jai M. King, who was interviewed quite a while ago. Their company has since evolved into something almost completely new. Jai is a fascinating and unique artist that has a style that’s entirely their own. They’re behind Madjaw Dolls, a brand gearing toward multimedia arts. They do a lot of illustrations but also quite a lot of writing as well. Jai is currently working on a science fiction series, which is part of the Madjaw Dolls universe. Based on their interview, Jai is a fascinating and dedicated artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.
(WARNING: Some images contain nudity and are risque)
Please, tell us about your art.
Madjaw Dolls is brand gearing towards the multimedia arts. There is one main universe in which all products and creations stem from. The stories under MJD combine influences of retro-fantasy, raypunk and Grimm’s fairytales to create a distinct branch of dark tales that are both innovative in terms of character and world design but also blunt in terms of political and social commentary.
My work ranges from traditional illustration to digital most recently with working on the IPad Pro. I am also going into producing for multimedia to expand MJD so I am also a creative director in collaborative projects.
Currently I’ve been in the process of producing a science fiction series called “Sector M.I.” which takes you through a multi-world war. The world design is very distinct to the universe in which a multitude of my stories derive from. Most of what will be seen at Madjaw Dolls exists within that universe.
What inspires you?
My inspirations range from the array of media I grew up on to naturally being attracted to retro-media such as anime/manga from the 1970s-1990s to western influences such as Ralph Bakshi’s “Cool World” to much of the bizarre fantasy works from the 1970s and also the strange futuristic narrative of 1970s funk music. I also grew up loving the Grimm Brothers which has influenced my work and story process quite a bit. I love creating words that feel at least a little uncomfortable. A lot of my work has a warped quality that I’ve developed purposefully for the stories. I’m not so much about supplying reality as I’m about creating something entirely new.
Since my last interview with Asexual Artists I do think I’ve returned to my roots a little more with my influences. Every project I take on entails a good amount of research which I personally love as I often find that people tend to overlook just how much time and research it takes to develop a well-crafted creative process. I think my influences change the more I grow and learn.
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
I’ve been illustrating since I was little though around 17 was when I landed my first job illustrating a children’s book, though I didn’t know very much about illustrating at the time and taking on the process of illustrating a book was hard, I learned a lot about what to do and what not to do when illustrating books. I went back and forth for a while as I was potentially good at so many things, ultimately illustration is where my roots have always been, I’ve been looking into multimedia producing for the very reason that I can expand in the future through different platforms and ways to tell the stories, starting with graphic novels; which the graphic novels under MJD will be a combination of written and illustrative narrative, a format I’ve been working on to be a little more unique to MJD.
I learned quite a bit in the last year after interning for another comic artist and developing sound connections with illustrators and comic artists who’ve helped me a lot with both communications and not to let the mainstream dictate my vision.
Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?
At the moment, I’m working on the first installation under “Sector M.I.” Which is currently titled “The Hanged Man’s Plan” though changes are always possible in editing. I’ve been quiet about much of the story, in previous experiences I’ve had, I’ve learned to do so, haha. What I will say is that HMP occurs 200 years prior to the main events of “Sector M.I.” It was a story I started last year, nixed, and then decided that it had more potential as it establishes the birth of a lineage with one of the main characters of SMI, King. At least right now, all of the stories will be told in relatively short books, similar to a children’s book, but with a more mature story. HMP is relatively benign compared to what I have lined up for the future editions in the series. All of the stories cover particularly controversial subjects, one of the mains in HMP suffers through a smear campaign within his own workplace, and there’s a huge focus on the destruction and outcome of jealousy as well as laying the groundwork for the world seen in “Sector M.I”
The story has undergone rights and registration along with the entirety of the Sector M.I. series so it’s a matter of completely the first story. I’ve been experiencing the ever-so-lovely world of publishing but I’ll be happy when it’s done.
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
Take pride in the effort you put into your work, but always be open to learn more. It’s a process first and foremost, there is no golden finish line where you’ve made it as an artist. The moment you close yourself off to growth, you’ve basically cheated yourself from the next level of your journey. It takes time, and at times it really sucks. Also, if you have an idea you believe in, don’t bend to please other people. I’ve learned that the hard way throughout my journey so far, there are literally thousands of ways to be an artist, if one idea doesn’t work, keep pushing and don’t take no for an answer when you know what you have to offer. Also process the rights to your work, haha I also learned that the hard way after experiencing content theft!
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
I’m still asexual and aromantic, I don’t really know if that will ever change.
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
Yes and no. It’s not so much in my field as it has been coming out of art school. Oddly enough, most would think art school is particularly accepting of every type of person but I’ve learned the opposite. My art tends to trickle over into my daily outfits, I still work as a creative director for photo shoots from time to time, so I love to express through creating extravagant outfits, but I’ve found that with creating flamboyant outfits people tend to assume you’re an equally flamboyant person. Flamboyance has its own set of stereotypes as people assume I’m someone who goes out and dates a lot or dressing up to impress others. I’m a bit of a contradiction in that sense, how I dress is mostly because I love to create myself every day, it’s an extension of my art to me. I’ve faced the expectation to “stop being ace” because of what someone else expects or wants and it’s very uncomfortable. It’s disturbing that much of society doesn’t accept no as a valid answer when it comes to relationships (this is when “no” should be taken as an answer!).
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
I would say for me that it’s a phase. Or that I’m waiting for some knight in shining armor to save me from asexuality as for me, it was never a choice. I can’t speak for every asexual but I have always been this way, though there were times in high school before I knew who I was, where I tried to date and be “normal” due to social pressures. In many communities, even in black/mixed communities, asexuality isn’t fully accepted due to the heavy stigmas black people still face. Black women tend to automatically be sexualized and stereotyped (and it’s even worse for non-binary folks, as I am as well) that it’s even harder to say I’m asexual without being laughed at or denied.
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
Definitely to speak up when you feel uncomfortable. If you feel like someone is pressuring you, speak up and leave the situation. You shouldn’t have to explain who you are to those who don’t get it.
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
“The Hanged Man’s Plan” is still in production, so whenever all the cards are in place is when it will come out, there’s no telling how long it may take but I’ve recently be finishing the process for the rights and registration for “Sector M.I.” and Madjaw Dolls so it’s all in that awkward phase of planning to put out actual products and not just prints of works.
Thank you, Jai, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.