Art Attack - JT Yost

JT Yost
Art Attack - JT Yost

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For as long as Brooklyn, New York artist JT Yost can remem¬ber, he’s been interested in animals and drawing. An incredibly diverse artist, his work ranges from the joyfully absurd with his so called “peculiar” portraits to the regally con¬servative of his traditional portraits. No matter what genre he’s working in, what’s paramount to Yost is that his work evokes a strong narrative.

Yost loves comic books and admits his pecu¬liar portraits are highly influenced by them. He remembers that as a teenager he drew a series of comic strips based on a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde sort of dog.

The first time Yost drew an animal’s head onto a human body, though, was during middle school. Yost recalls, “For some reason, I’ve always thought animal heads on human bodies are hilarious. Some people love it, while others find it completely disturbing.”

Yost works with watercolors, inks, and archival rag paper for his peculiar portraits while his traditional portraits are just that: traditional oils on canvas. Working primarily from photos, Yost says the inspiration for both types of portraits can come from “the expression on a dog’s face or the way its head is facing.” From there, he’ll sketch and present a few concepts for clients to choose from. Yost honed his talent while attending art school at Virginia Commonwealth University, where he was exposed to many genres and ideas, but he only learned to work with oils a few years ago. His father-in-law, Burton Silversmith, also a renowned portrait artist, taught Yost oil tech¬nique. Yost is also a published comic book artist and recipient of the prestigious Xeric Award, a huge honor for indie comic artists.

Around the same time Yost discovered his pen¬chant for peculiar pet portraits, he also realized his passion for animal welfare. “[My] artwork is a vehicle for getting information out,” he says. He works so that he can support animal welfare agencies by donating partial proceeds from his portraits. A vegan since 1992, he feels that meat produc¬tion isn’t kind to animals and hopes that through his work he can create more awareness for animal welfare and rights. “My art is a way for me to use my work to inform people. Informed people make better decisions.”

To commission a peculiar or traditional portrait, visit Yost’s site, jtyost.com for information. Prices begin at $350. Yost also offers hand-carved, oil-painted prints of several dog breeds. Prices for those begin at $60.

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