Joshua Lang Sits Down With Visual Artist Dessie Jackson

Artist Showcase: Dessie Jackson 

Words & photos by Joshua Lang, Video by Austin Horton. 


"I finally got the chance to catch up with the Philadelphia native in her cozy LA apartment/studio during my visit. I first heard about Dessie about 4-5 years ago through a mutual friend of ours. I was immediately blown away by what i was looking at and couldn't believe how real some of her portraits looked. The story telling behind her art is what really gave me the chills. Every piece has a meaning and she does an excellent job at making sure her audience knows where the inspiration came from." Get to know a little bit more about Dessie below. 


1. "As an artist, having a consistent morning routine can really make a positive impact on your work. Can you explain to us your routine?"

"Mornings are so important to me! I try and give myself an hour of just waking up before I dive into anything (even if this means setting the alarm a little earlier) — coffee, and breakfast always."


2. "Do you see yourself sticking around LA or somewhere else? If yes, why and where?"

"For now, certainly! LA is excellent, I must admit. I wasn't a fan at first - it's just different from the East Coast, but I like it more the longer I stay. I like how people here see something bigger - chasing something. I appreciate that. I like that. I don't think I'll be in LA forever but I never really know.  No anchors."


3. "If you had to explain your work to a stranger, what would you say? Can you also explain what the process is like?"

"The elevator pitch! I explore projected femininity, sexual identity, "beauty." I'm interested in the idea of a fake truth; think no-makeup, makeup tutorials. I like collecting images and information, especially ads - through magazines in particular. Normally I latch onto an image or a line and go from there."


4. "What are you really excited about right now?"

"I'm starting a new series of personal paintings that I can't wait to share."


5. "What do you think you'd be doing if you weren't an artist? Do you have any passion projects?"

"I've always been lucky in the sense where I've known what I wanted to do.  I dressed up as an artist for "What do you want to be when you grow up" day in kindergarten (beret and smock included). BUT if I wasn't a visual artist; I love to dance, violin, and I love theatre, so probably would pursue something in that corner."


6. "What are you listening to right now?"

"SZA, Tigers Jaw, PUP, and Fazerdaze."


7. "What are some upcoming or current project you are working on?"

"Over the past few months I've really been focused on some true self-care and self-love. With this, and what that means to me, I've been taking a lot of photos, just of my personal life and friends. I've been writing. I want to share more of this. Make honest work.  

BUT, a show is coming (winks)."


8. "What artists or designers are you interested in right now?"

"I finally got to see Jerry James Marshall's retrospective in person and it was phenomenal. Diane Arbus, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye."