Jason Tetlak changes the way we view art (literally)

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Some people see the cup as half empty and some see it as half full. Interactive artist Jason Tetlak wants you to see it both ways and in 3D. 

Tetlak works with various forms of optical illusions in his art, which can be found both hanging in galleries and decorating the walls of downtown Jacksonville as massive murals. One of which was recently named the “largest anaglyph 3D mural” by Guinness World Records. 

The mural is titled “Brooklyn” after the neighborhood in which it resides in downtown Jacksonville. It features the hip-hop group, the Beastie Boys. Tetlak got the idea from his daughter who suggested the song, “No Sleep Till Brooklyn,” when hearing about the potential location. 

According to the Guinness World Records, the mural is 1,930 square feet and took Tetlak 50 hours over the course of a week to complete. The certificate was awarded to him on March 14, 2018. 

Tetlak is a graduate of the arts from Flagler College in St. Augustine. He founded the Murray Hill Mural Project and has been working on implementing optical illusion in his work for the past 15 years. He has used QR codes, 3D, augmented reality and red “reveal” to create work that engages with viewers and distorts their perception. Tetlak says he just wants people to take their time. 

“A major influence, in all honesty, is the way people engage with art,” he says. “I’ve done arts markets and the Art Walk and those kind of things. When you're sitting there, you’re just watching people engage with the artwork and more often than not it’s very superficial. People are kind of just strolling past and going, ‘That’s cool,' and they just keep right on walking. They don’t spend a whole lot of time actually studying the paintings or engaging with them.”

Recently, Tetlak grabbed people’s attention with his gallery show event titled, “Burn After Reading.” On the last day of his show on Jan. 12, Tetlak hosted a party to burn all the unsold artwork featured in the gallery. The theme of the show featured the idea of hidden messages in the red reveal style illusion, which uses red light to uncover hidden typographic messages within the paintings. The idea of burning the work afterwards fit with the theme’s “secret message” context so “the message doesn’t fall into the wrong hands,” Tetlak says. 

Luckily for Tetlak, only two pieces ended up being burned that night. The rest were sold, auctioned or “won” in a raffle. He referred to the event as, “probably the best-case scenario.”

Right now, Tetlak is taking some time to plan and pursue opportunities. For people looking to enjoy his work, however, you might drive by and see him working from the street. Just as he wants his work to be engaging for people, he finds painting murals to be more “interactive” for himself. 

“Painting on a canvas is kind of a solitary process, you know you're in your studio by yourself, it’s just you and the canvas,” he says. “When you're out on the street painting there are people driving by and honking. … I have people come over who are super excited saying, ‘You know we've been watching you paint from our living room all week!’”

For more information on his work or to buy prints, visit his website at art.tetlak.com. 

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