How childlike play informs the work of artist and designer Jonas Mayer

In the heart of Germany, nestled close to the French border, lies the small town of Saarbrücken – a place where imagination knows no bounds for the enigmatic artist Jonas Mayer.

Born and raised in this quaint corner of the world, Jonas' path to becoming an artist is a testament to his unwavering dedication to his craft, unique creative style, and ability to extract inspiration from the most unlikely sources.

Jonas' journey to where he is today started with a little detour. After completing his training as a graphic designer, he found himself drained and unfulfilled in the world of advertising; it became apparent that he craved more autonomy. "It was clear to me that I didn't want to be part of the advertisement world, and I realised I wanted more creative freedom and to be my own boss," he shares. Fueled by this desire, he embarked on a new path, studying Fine Arts in his hometown. This educational chapter eventually culminated in Jonas obtaining his degree in February. Now, his work has graced international exhibitions in cities like London, Lyon, Berlin and Cluj-Napoca.

Jonas draws from many sources when it comes to his inspirations. He's a keen observer of everyday life, capturing the quirky and the curious with his phone to reference later on. In addition, he frequents old bookstores and rummages through flea markets, unearthing hidden gems in the process. "Over the years," he says, "I have collected a lot of unique and entertaining books, especially about vintage toys."

But in general, Jonas' influences can't be pinned down to one origin; "It could be anything, an old sign of an already closed shop, a ripped poster where its leftovers form a new interesting composition, aesthetic colour schemes of children's drawings handing at the school fence, or just walking and daydreaming on my way to the studio with headphones in."

Jonas thrives off capturing the every day and the playful moments an ordinary eye might not spot. As such, his creative process depicts what it's like to rediscover the wonder of childhood. "I lose myself in dreaming, and childlike play has informed my work over the last few years," he notes. "I observe how kids lose themselves while playing in dreamy parallel worlds." This notion informs how he puts pencil to paper, a method that involves simple, fast and small sketches of compositions, figures or scenarios before they're brought onto the canvas and mapped out into larger pieces. "It never works out the way I started, so my creative process consists of permanent problem-solving. A lot of parts will disappear, while others emerge."

His sculptural works, on the other hand, follow a different process. For these pieces, Jonas collects a motley of materials, ranging from wood remnants to objects and waste from construction sites. After that, he starts toying around and finding harmony amongst the chaos – piecing together each part like building blocks. "It's a lot of trial and error but also a lot of fun," he says. "The process allows many coincidences which could not be planned otherwise. It's just puzzling with glueing and screwing together."

Two of Jonas' recent pieces encapsulate his distinctive approach to art. The first is a sculpture featuring yellow pipes resembling the playful shape of a dachshund. Radiating humour, these pipes, found on his way to the studio and originally intended to protect trees on construction sites, are given a new purpose as they inspire this canine creation. "I don't know if it was the colour or shape, but I couldn't resist hopping over the fence to take some with me." Another standout is Marie dreht eine Runde 1&2, a series of works that merge sculptural elements with paintings. The piece represents a moment where Jonas stepped beyond the confines of rectangular canvases, composed of an extendable table top found in a junkyard – "Luckily, a canvas from my studio fit exactly into it."

As for the future, Jonas has exciting prospects on the horizon, with upcoming exhibitions planned in October and November. And, with a newfound fascination with inflatables, this gives us a sneaky hint at what's to come.


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