About The Iris On, Erik Jones’s Creative Persona

In much of his creative work, artist and illustrator Erik Jones goes by The Iris On. The pseudonym serves as both his name as the artist as well as an overarching name for his whole body of gallery work, which combines realistic female forms with backgrounds full of colorful abstractions and vibrant geometric configurations. To create these eye-catching works, Jones engages in a methodical creative process that permits him to seamlessly combine elements of realism with non-representational art.

The Iris On’s Body of Work
When Erik Jones moved to Brooklyn, New York, in 2009, he strayed away from his career as a cover artist to experiment with non-representational forms, space, and human figures. In the four years following his move, Jones continued to refine his style and create The Iris On with works such as “Patriot” and “Anne Bolyn.” Then, in 2012, Jones received a major opportunity to create a body of work for an individual show in New York, and according to an interview with Supersonic, he “took it as [his] chance to focus [his] creative explorations to one specific ‘style.’” Since then, Jones has continued to refine his style and further explore artistic notions such as conceptual fashion design.

The Iris On primarily features painted portraits of women brought to life by non-representational elements and geometric configurations. When Jones first began this series, he initially intended the forms that clad the portraits as simple graphic, non-representational elements with little purpose other than heightening the beauty of the individual figure. However, over the years, these engulfing backgrounds evolved into something resembling conceptual fashion design. According to Jones, in his paintings and illustrations, “the viewer is capturing a random moment where the forms are consuming the figure. Not in an aggressive or obtrusive way but more like wearing clothes that are alive.” To create these vibrant plays on color and fascinating detail, Jones uses colored pencil, watercolor, acrylic, and oil paint.

Erik Jones’s Creative Process
In order to create these stunning pairings of realist portraits and non-representational shapes, artist Erik Jones engages in a unique creative process. He begins by examining a collection of photos from the internet or from a photo shoot to gain inspiration. On his computer, he will edit and position the photos to create a reference for him to use while creating his work. Then, he begins to sketch and conceptualize, building shapes on top of the figure while methodically deciding on the color scheme. After making this defined digital layout, Jones projects the image onto paper in order to trace it.

Once he has traced the layout, he begins his work with a base of watercolor or ink. Once the watercolor or ink dries, he renders the portrait’s skin with colored pencil, and then he uses water-soluble pastels to blend. He then uses oil paints, defines detail with pencil or pastel, and finally finishes the painting with acrylic. This process occasionally varies from painting to painting, but the core movement from digital planning to the handmade result remains the same.