Legendary outsider artist Jessi Buchanan was the illegitimate son of a chimney sweep and an obscure beat poet. He made his mark on society as an artist living in the streets, creating his art from a variety of condiments foraged from dumpsters between the years 2000 and 2005 when Buchanan mysteriously dissappeared, leaving behind a mysteriously unfinished legacy...
Okay, that was bullshit. Sorry about that. It's just me. I'm Jessi Buchanan. Jeff Cohen is Jessi Buchanan. Me.
So what's with the charade? I used to sell art on eBay. When I first started, i was mostly doing paintings of cats. They were fun, and people liked them, but I wanted to do weird stuff. It seemed to me at the time that if I started doing some of the weird crap that popped into my head, all the gentle cat ladies who bought my art would be scared away! So I thought up this brush name, Jessi Buchanan. It's actually short for Jessica Buchanan, a name my brother and sister used to torment me with. (She was a character on some soap opera my Mom used to watch.) The way that happened was that when I was a kid, I was in a drug store with my brother, my sister and my father. My father called me from across the store by yelling "Jess!" My name is Jeff, but you know how dads can be. It was some sort of affectionate alteration or something. I don't know. Anyway, when I met up with them at the cash register, the cashier said, "Oh! Is your son named Jesse? I think that is the most beautiful name for a boy!" My father smiled and said "Yes. Yes he is." I guess it was easier for him than explaining the truth. So we get outside the store and my brother and sister burst out laughing. They're dancing around me for about five minutes chanting "Jessica Buchanan." They spontaneously came up with a little tune that they both instinctively knew - as if they had rehearsed it. I just rolled my eyes, but it got under my skin. That's how it is with siblings: it's not what they are saying, really. It's the vicious intent that comes through.
So years later, and it just seems pretty funny to me now. I took ownership of the name that was the source of seemingly endless torment, and made something good out of it. Who's laughing now, bitches? Ha! But I'm not bitter. Really.
But back to eBay. After I realized that cat paintings sold well because "cat" was a desirable search term on eBay, I started looking at other collectible themes that could be incorporated into art to make them more searchable. It saw a lot of angels and mermaids on eBay, and that started me thinking! I immediately saw how idiotic this was, and it struck me as really funny. So I did this painting:
Angels And Mermaids Hate Each Other
It was partly as an experiment to see if combining searchable things into a painting would actually help them get higher bids, but it was really a statement on the ridiculousness of creating art I didn't care about to pander to an audience. Isn't that why I left graphic design?
So that was the beginning. Jessi's art never made much money, but it got a lot of buzz, and it was fun to make. A lot of Jessi's art was making fun of consumerism in one way or another, but mostly it's stream-of-consciousness nonsense. I like stuff like that.
I no longer promote Jessi as an actual entity, but I have a lot of stuff that I did under his name. So I am sharing it here with you! My art style has changed a lot since I was doing Jessi art - mostly because I have done over 1000 paintings since I started my career as a fine artist. But there's still some fun stuff there, so I hope you enjoy it.
Jessi / Jeff