To commemorate the release of Quadrophenia: The Director’s Cut, legendary rock band The Who allied with Talenthouse in the search for the perfect bit of film to be produced as the official music video for their hit “5.15.” As a rock opera, studio album, and film, Quadrophenia is a wild exploration of generational and cultural identities and conflicts taking place in 1960s England. Titled after a train, “5.15” (aka “5:15″ or “5’15”) is a tumultuous tune caught in the middle of it all, as Quadrophenia’s protagonist Jimmy travels from London to Brighton.
Jeff’s work clearly struck a chord with The Who, because the band members personally chose his submission as the winner. This honor, from artists to artist, signifies that Jeff will work with Universal Music Group’s marketing team to finalize the video, which will be featured and promoted on thewho.com the Who’s social media channels. He will also receive a Fender guitar signed by none other than Peter Townshend and a Quadrophenia: The Director’s Cut Boxset, as well as $2,000. We interviewed Jeff after his surprise winner announcement.
Jeff: I saw the Creative Invite on The Who’s official website, which led me to the Talenthouse website. I am a fan of The Who, so this opportunity really intrigued me. Before I started filming I spent a lot of time doing research, finding reference photos and drawing sketches. I knew that I had to get this right in one take, so I made sure that I knew exactly what I was going to do when the camera was rolling.
TH: Capturing on film the act of painting with multiple layers as an homage to Quadrophenia proved a terrific concept. What lead you to combine your canvas art and cinema?
Jeff: When I was a kid I enjoyed watching painting shows on PBS. I was fascinated watching the process of someone painting a picture in half an hour. I did the painting in layers because I wanted to give the impression that this was one person split into four parts, or conversely, that these four talented individuals came together to form the single entity of The Who.
TH: How did you gain your artistic skills?
Jeff: Lots of practice and perseverance. I enjoyed drawing and painting from an early age, and I remember checking out as many drawing books as I could find at the library. I received a BFA in Illustration and spent twelve years as a digital artist illustrating textbooks.
[lquote]I started painting as a way to regain some sense of balance in my life.[/lquote]TH: What role does your cultural or regional identity play with regard to your creativity?
Jeff: I have German and Dutch ancestry, so perhaps a small portion of skill and talent from the old Dutch Masters has trickled down to me genetically.
TH: Any fond memories involving the music of The Who (besides this recent one) that you’d like to share?
Jeff: I really got into The Who when I was working as a textbook illustrator. I would listen to music on my headphones for eight hours a day as I worked. I think I bought every Who album within a period of about six months. I particularly enjoyed “The Who Sell Out”, a really fun album that made my day go by faster.
Jeff: I have four-year-old twins at home, so I feel fortunate just to find time to paint in what little spare time I have. I also enjoy biking, hiking, cross country skiing, reading and listening to music.
TH: What’s your dream project (beyond this one), or what are a couple of your dream projects?
Jeff: I’d be happy just to be able to earn a living painting, and I’d love to paint the cover for the next Rolling Stones album. When I have enough paintings finished I’d like to have a solo exhibition in a gallery and have a book of my work published.
TH: What’s it like being an artist and a father? Do your children share your interest in the arts?
Jeff: I left my job as a textbook illustrator after twelve years to become a stay-at-home dad in 2008. After a couple years, being home with the kids all day really started taking a toll on me emotionally, so in 2011 I started painting as a way to regain some sense of balance in my life. So I’m much happier being an artist and father, rather than being just a father. My daughter has really shown an interest in painting, and she likes to tell people “my daddy and I are artists.”
TH: What is one (or more) of your favorite subjects to portray in art and for what reason(s)?
Jeff: I’ve always enjoyed drawing and painting people. It’s a challenge for me to try to capture an emotion in someone’s expression, and there is such a variety in people’s faces that it never becomes boring for me. I enjoy listening to music, so my current focus has been painting a series of famous musicians.