Jake Reedy: The Tinkering, “Any Means Necessary” Artist of Postmodern Design
What’s the difference between an artist and a designer? While making a trek to Provo to meet with local prop, lighting and event designer Jake Reedy at his humble art space, this question rambled in my head, and upon arriving it was immediately apparent that this interview would be interesting. With medieval weapons hanging on the wall, a seven-foot, silver horse made from all-purpose putty and installation foam and free-range chickens plucking at the bleached grass, Reedy’s home was a dadaist wonderland.
Reedy’s artistic portfolio developed while he majored in video at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, however, his creative interests date back to highschool where he took scenes from 2001: A Space Odyssey and used a fog machine and PVC irrigation system to cast a ghostly projection. “I remember VJing [visual jockeying] before I knew what it was … that just felt awesome,” he says. From there, Reedy dove into graphic design, where he would dabble with syncing up sound to digital visuals.
Reedy is not your typical designer. When it comes to materials, nothing stays sacred for long. “I like the idea of being anti-genre,” he says. “I’m going to sometimes be funny in my art, sometimes inspirational, sometimes aggressive and psychotic … it’s all me.” Whether taking the “domestic and acceptable” approach of pencil to paper or melting down Red Bull cans into molten aluminum, Reedy feels that pushing those creative boundaries is the only way to make the best representation of his unorthodox creativity. It’s this scavenger, “work with the tools you have,” approach to imagery that has landed him many jobs, including his design work for Grit Marketing, a sales organization. With his rebellious, thrashed approach to design, Reedy pushes what we accept from corporate boundaries at Grit, expanding what we may believe belongs in a corporate frame. “It’s like my interpretation of their vision,” Reedy says. It’s this rare, avant-garde slant on design that only Reedy can deliver.
“I’m going to sometimes be funny in my art, sometimes inspirational, sometimes aggressive and psychotic … it’s all me.”
As the Creative Director for Grit Marketing, Reedy wears many hats spanning from construction helmets to a painter’s beret. “At my job, my title is Creative Director, but really I’m an artist disguised as a Creative Director,” Reedy jokes. With five designers under his command to help him create the most immersive and unique events for Grit, Reedy and his team hope to design an experience that event-goers will remember forever. Grit Rail Jam, for example, flexed Reedy’s mind in an exciting way. When left with a “boring pop-up tent,” Reedy and his team ditched the mundane and built a two-story slope, shimmering in a translucent Kunzite purple, where a pop-tent sat inside selling screen-printed custom shirts. Reedy also creates digital designs, having shown his talents for coordinating the lighting and visuals for many music events, including working with the lighting rigs and visual designs for the recent Ritt Momney performance at Kilby Block Party 3.
“Commit yourself to something outside yourself that is beyond what you think you’re qualified for.”
Looking into future projects, Reedy is fully amped for a new, immersive design installation created inside the Grit corporate office with help from David Wise, the Art Director of MF9, a local design agency. Reedy explains that the new mesmeric experience would give the Grit’s main headquarters an industrial vibe. “Concrete tunnel, steel walkways, LED Lighting, sound, scrap metal, old car parts … it’s my dream project because it will have everything,” Reedy says.
So, what’s the difference between an artist and designer? Whatever answer one can muster up, Reedy constantly blurs that line. For those who want to take a chance and create something out of sheer inspiration, all it takes is curiosity and will power. “Commit yourself to something outside yourself that is beyond what you think you’re qualified for,” Reedy says.