IgniteMe was recently given the chance to interview legendary glassblower Nate Purcell aka J.A.G. Taking full advantage of the invite we were also privy to see some of the new glass he’s been cookin’ up as well and the mouthwatering art that has put him on the map.
Why JAG? What’s behind the name?
In 2006, as a result of Operation Pipe Dreams and after 2 years of not blowing glass pipes I needed money and knew that the glass pipe industry would be the most lucrative. I wanted to make pipes but I was still shaking from Operation Pipe Dreams. I didn’t necessarily want to have my name attached to my pieces at the time. All I really wanted was to be just another glassblower, so I went with it. As you can see, JAG stuck.
African Sherlocks: 2006, some of the first pipes JAG made after Operation Pipe Dreams, featured on the cover of Flow Magazine
How did you get into glassblowing?
I started collecting pipes in highschool- I was wrapped up in the rave scene and knew I needed to get out but didn’t know exactly what to do. I knew I wasn’t college bound and didn’t really want to work in the restaurant industry so I moved to Boulder, CO and ironically got a job bussing tables. After a few weeks I heard about a group of people blowing glass and was introduced to MOE SCHULL, SMILEY, TODD POBBLESOGG, and HARRY HARRINGTON. They were all in a shop together and after linking up with them I knew I had found something special, something I could throw myself into completely. I was only there for 8 months before moving to Philly but that was definitely where my passion for glassblowing sparked.
2011 Manifesta Pill Bottles: 2011, new series of pill pipes that were half white and half transparent color with a black lipwrap in between. Released at “Wiz Wit” show.
Who are your greatest influences?
William Morris was my first and probably greatest influence. He’s an incredible artist who really pushed the textural boundaries of glass. A lot of his work is inspired by archeology and ancient cultures, which I thought was rad. I started focusing on textural diversity in my own art, removing a lot of material, cold-working and moving away from the traditionally glossy finish of glass. From there I developed my “African Studies Series” that definitely shows the influence of William Morris. My second greatest influence would have to be Dante Marioni who I took a class with in ’09. He’s truly a master- when I saw how he used sharp, clean lines, perfectly executed shapes and exaggerated curves it opened my eyes again to the limitlessness of sculpting and blowing glass. About a year later I came out with my “Art Deco Series” which reflected greatly what I had learned from him.
Parasite Series Bubblers: 2011, JAG’s newest series.
Do you collect art?
Definitely. I believe in “art karma”, meaning that because people support me and buy my art, I should do the same. I have a huge collection of glass back east in Philly but most of the art I purchase these days are paintings and sculptures. I travel a lot and if possible I try to pick up work from local artists. My most recent purchase was a series of three paintings by a dope animation artist from Philly, Monique Ligons. Her work is aggressive and fantastic- when I saw the series of these three thugged out monkeys and had to scoop them.
Run To Freedom: 2008, this is the second piece that was made like this- it was custom ordered by a man whose mother fled from Mexico over the border to America while pregnant with him. He saw the original and wanted one made for himself.
What collaborations or projects do you have coming up?
I have tentative plans to collab with Carver B. and David Colton in the next 6-8 months which I’m really pumped for. I think our styles fit together well and we’ll be able to come out with some awesome pieces. I also recently got involved with a local San Diego company called The Infusion Project that I’m really excited about. They throw events every few weeks with live art, vendors and music at different venues. It’s a great scene with a lot of creative and inspiring people who are passionate about fostering a local art community. I’m actually going to be selling some of my new canvas art, as well as some other work at their next event (Nov. 18th @ Stingaree).
JAG/Slinger Collab Bubbler: 2011, JAG’s favorite piece from the JAG/Slinger collab show “Wiz Wit” at his gallery in Brooklyn “Easy Street”
What’s the best part of your job?
Hanging out with my assistant SHAINA, followed by having the freedom to be creative and make art everyday, and support myself doing so. It’s truly amazing to realize a lifestyle where you love what you do and the opportunities for growth are limitless.
Akua’maa and Zuri: 2007, Zuri (left) means beautiful in Swahili, featured in the 2007 Pilchuck Art Auction. Akua’maa (right) is the fertility god, won the Niche Award in 2008
Money Bags: 2011 version of money bag pipes originally released in 2009, originals were sandblasted.
If you’d like to see more of J.A.G.’s work we invite you to check out his glasspipes.org page and if you’re interested in getting some J.A.G. for your smoke shop or just for your personal glass pipe collection, please contact him via his Official Facebook Page or his email firstname.lastname@example.org