Jeremy Collins: The Interview
Chances are, if you’ve picked up a climbing mag in the past ten years or so you have no doubt seen Jeremy Collin’s art work. Not only does he monopolize the creative genius you see gracing your magazine pages, but he stinking rips too! Haling from Kansas City, this dynamo is a first ascent slayer, grabbing FA’s from Arkansas sandstone to Black Canyon granite. Always psyched for what’s next, Jer can do no wrong in our book. I pulled him away from what I like to call “arting” to do an interview with P&C. Enjoy…
Interview: Adam Peters (Bronco)
Prints: Jer Collins
Interview time! We’ll start with basics: Name, DOB, Residence, occupation.
Jeremy “Jer” Collins. 11-04-76. Kansas City, Misery. Artist.
Ever paint/draw/sculpute a nude? Need a model?
I escaped art school before they made me. And yeah, I could use a model for a children’s book I am working on. You can be the large purple octopus with white gloves. I got out of school before they gave me access to naked people outside the dorms.
So, basically you’re the “it” man for all things beautiful and arty in the climbing industry. Is this the industry you’ve always seen yourself working in?
Not exactly. I was shooting for body-scarring-tribal-dance-opera-performance artist, but there was an opening in climbing-bum-artist-hippy. The climbing shoe fit.
Wow! Speaking of family, you’ve been working on one. How old is the little one now?
Zion Michael Ray is almost 2 1/2 yrs old. He’s not a very good belayer yet, but he loves dive-bombing the crashpads. My wife Tricia and I first climbed together in Zion National Park, and kept coming across the name. When it came time to name the offspring, we knew what it was gonna be. Poor kid. everyone thinks he’s rasta, or a Zionist.
I thought you just liked the Matrix trilogy.
Why is it that everyone your age has never heard of Zion before the Matrix? It’s a tragedy. It’s the Promised Land!
Oh, I’ve heard of it, but the Matrix just made it cool. So, your wifey does a bit of rock climbing too?
Yeah, but we have some differing styles. I like being miserable, bloody and cold, on a grade VI in the back-country whereas she likes staying in nice beds with safe, bolted crags, and a mocha-latte before putting on her harness. She’s crazy like that. She went through some serious suffering to prove her love to me. Once we got hitched she ditched the big wall experience. I don’t blame her. I honestly don’t know how she puts up with my climbing.
Damn. Sounds like she’s seen the light, when will you shape up?
Funny. I hear that question a lot, I was gonna ask you the same thing
Speaking of suffering, word is you’re heading south to Patagonia soon. Psyched?
Yeah, finally! As for climbing, we will see. Arriving as a climber, I am dependent on the weather to cooperate, but as an artist, I will be satisfied with whatever happens. Patagonia is an area that has called to me for some time. It’s finally time to answer. As for suffering, we will see.
As an artist that climbs or a climber that arts, what’s the similarities between the two? For the sake of sounding like Ron Kauk, climbers seem to express a bit of art by moving, whether that means alpine, sport, bouldering or whatever.
You suffer to advance in both, and neither pay well. So to be obsessed with both says something about what you need out of life. If the bottom line is the bottom line, then you will bottom out. I like what Ron Kauk said– “The way that I see it, there are two worlds: the world where nothing is sacred but money, and the other world, where everything is sacred.”
I agree. So, you mean you’re not rolling up to the crag in a Lexus and wearing some sort of bling from all your art sales and climbing feats?
Ha! My European sports car is a VW van.
More like Yippie (yuppie-hippy). It’s a gold edition 2005 Eurovan. It’s my dream ride with all the modern conveniences, like heat for the Mrs. and the toddler.
On the subject of climbing feats, you’ve done a ton of route development. Tell me a little about the appeal of first ascents and some of your favorite/most proud lines.
It’s the natural progression as an artist to feel the drive to express. Whether it’s canvas, paper, rock, or building my mashed potatoes into a bust of Abraham Lincoln. Some of my proudest ascents are ground-up, onsight, or second go with minimal to no bolts with just one friend along for the ride. Maybe there are harder lines I’ve sent, but the ones I am most proud of didn’t take a lot of effort to send, but to envision. You stand on the ground and think–I bet I could send that, but just barely. Being on the ground and having that 50-75% probability of sending is a good place for me to be. When the outcome is 100% probable, the adventure disappears, and I get bored quick. Some of my favorites are Supernatural at Sam’s Throne, Arkansas, and Sistine Reality, in the Black Canyon. Neither with bolts, and both very expressive and satisfying for me.
Mashed Potato art and ground up boltless climbing = Awesome.
I like my routes like my hamburger–ground up, spicy and well done.
For a dude that is so psyched on developing routes and climbing what’s up with the decision to live in a rockless, bbq loving city?
It’s complicated. But some of the best parts about being in the Midwest is the price of homes, ease of access to both coasts, and I have a bit of a love affair with Arkansas sandstone. Plus the BBQ cannot be beat.
Let’s be honest, Arkansas sandstone is legit, kinda like Oklahoma granite is legit.
You didn’t hear that from me. Or you. Or…wait.
Okay, so down to business. You got some things in the works in the next few months like a new website, a new book and art shows. Give us the skinny on where, when, and how we can get more Jer.
Yeah my site is finally updated after two years of neglect, mostly in hopes of promoting my new book. It’s called “INTUIT10N” and showcases a decade of my work inspired by a life of climbing. There are essays by John Long, Duane Raleigh, Matt Samet, Steph Davis, and other climbing luminaries, so I am really psyched to share this with our little world. For now I am self publishing, which is limiting in some ways but in other ways it’s very efficient. When you purchase a book, it is printed that day and shipped. I like the environmental statement of not having a pile of stock somewhere being unsold. However, being responsible usually makes things more expensive, and that’s no exception in this case, but it’s worth it. Other things in the works are a showing off my work in Boulder in the spring. Most folks think I live there anyways, so it’ll be nice to perpetuate the facade.
Any last things you want the readers of P&C to know?
Never stop listening to intuition. Unless you have bad intuition. Then, Don’t listen. Listen to rap instead.
To see more of Jer’s art or to buy his book, visit his website jercollins.com