Born in Southend, London, where he resided for the early part of his life, Jake didn’t discover art until a much later stage. At 9, he and his family moved out of London and up north to Lancashire where he’s spent the best part of his life thus far. I met Jake probably 8 years ago? But it’s only over the last 2 or 3 years that I’ve followed his art and his work with Manchester based West Art Collective and Lancashire based Templar.
Jake’s work isn’t like much i’ve seen before, its clearly inspired by different aspects of popular culture, things that we all watched as kids and his unique interpretation of the world around him. (The Iron Giant inspired cover of this piece being a great example). By no means am I an art critic, or know fuck all about art if we’re being truly honest. However, I know when I see something I like, and I like it a lot. So, it only made sense to sit down and have a chat with Jake and find out a little bit more about the man behind the art.
Longsight is a mad place. A far reach from the usual yuppie gentrification of Central Manchester, just above the local Mosque is where you'll find Jake most of the time - the space typifies the unconventional aesthetics which surround his art. We took a deep dive into who Jake is, what motivates and influences him on a day to day basis.
So where are you from, for those who don't know you?
Jake: I was born in Collindale, but it's just wasn't a great place to live at the time, it's in North West London. Don't get me wrong. It’s a beautiful, diverse place. But it was it wasn't that great back then. My parents wanted to move out this tiny flat we were in, so it was off to Southend. Which ain’t dissimilar it’s just by the Sea. And then at 9 I came up to Tarleton in Preston and that's where I grew up.
I never realised you were Jewish.
Yeah, on my mum’s side. It’s about living halachically, which is passed down through generations. There's different sects of Judaism, but, my grandparents are Orthodox. My Mum became a reformed Jew when she married my dad who's not Jewish. So, yeah I was raised Jewish. We never lived in a particularly Jewish area though.
We never lived in a Jewish area, but we always went to synagogue. It was like a big part of growing up. We would go synagogue every Saturday from when I was very young to when I was 13. Yeah, it's just always been it's always been like a part of my life is really, it's a very like cultural ethnic thing, it's difficult to explain.
Especially the minute it's difficult because I feel like there's a lot of spotlight on it recently with the Bullshit in the Labour Party and whatever. Which just made every one of us feel grim, people are fighting over something that we didn’t really look into too much. Like, from where I sit, Labour aren’t Anti-Semitic. Corbyn did loads of work with Finnsbury Park Synagogue and Labour are, or have been the party of the Jews in the UK. It all feels like political point scoring. And to be fair, they succeeded in pulling Jews away from Labour. I dunno, it’s weird at the moment.
What was it like growing up in Preston?
Preston is mad, or at least Tarleton was. It's like very farmer country you know? Everyone looks the same, there ain't much going on. I dunno it was kinda tough sometimes. I adore Preston. It's absolutely made me as a person. As I get older, I find more like I strength in it almost like I don't know because I need God and my community because people are racist. And that is the truth of it.
Somewhere like Preston. I adore Preston. It's absolutely made me as a person, but in my life these people have been racist. This isn’t to say working class people are racist, but just that a lack of education, investment and awareness, can breed ignorance and fear of things that you don't understand why they're different. Middle class and upper class people are racist too, they just are more crafty about it and for totally different reasons.
When I moved to Preston, even my name and how I look made me stand out in the middle of nowhere, Jacob Sachs, like even from there you know - I’d get the looks the dumb racist shit against my religion, it was kinda just part of it. But it made me who I am and I adore that place, still.
So, how did you get into art? And what is it about this kind of bold aesthetic that drew you in?
You know what, it’s just these colours and things in my head. It was just the strongest and most accessible thing for me to use at the time - i’m slowly shifting away from acrylics and focusing more on natural dyes and the way in which they develop on paper but it was just the most striking thing and easiest thing for me to go for. I didn’t even know what I was doing, I went to uni to study art without evening knowing how to paint. It was just learning on the move.
My Nanny does oil paintings, like old timey landscapes of Italy, which I think is inspired by her time with my Zaydeh, after the war when they went there. So she paints stuff like that, which is a far cry from what I do. She tried to teach us at one point or another but it wasn’t for me as a kid. My Nanny doesn’t understand my art, she calls it my ‘weirdo painting’.
What are your main influences artistically?
I like battles, a lot of my stuff features these internal and external battles, so that’s a big part of it. I also draw inspiration from Japanese Folklore and these crazy lakeside landscapes, I have a particular affinity for things like that - it talks to me. I like to repurpose and reimagine artists and people that inspire me too, but giving it a new spin.
When does the inspiration to come?
Jake: Anytime, like the other night for example, I got given a brownie and they said don’t eat the whole thing… anyway I ate the whole thing and I came back here and all the power was off for some reason. And I just sat here drawing, I woke up in the morning like what the fuck was I on about here, the most ridiculous type of stuff. But I dunno what the motive was for a lot of this stuff.
Where does your inspiration come from when you start painting?
Jake: most of it comes from the real world, or things that have inspired or influenced me throughout life. And stuff just from in my head. That’s the stuff I like the most, the things that are just in my head. I’ll sit in here constantly just painting and creating, which I know some people struggle with, but for me that’s never an issue, I am constantly just creating stuff in here, most of which doesn’t ever really leave this room.
I dunno old cartoons, things that make people smile. I feel like a lot of my work doesn’t make much sense to anyone other than myself sometimes, but I just keep going at it. I’m always constantly thinking of what i’m gonna paint or draw next, inspiration has never been an issue.
Jake: I think a lot of my stuff is anti authoritarian, which goes hand in hand with how I feel a lot. Surveillance, security cameras etc.
Do you think that's all a product of your mental state at those times and the innate distrust of authority?
Jake: Yeah, I think that when I first started making art, I was just out of college and these themes and paranoia was massively prevalent in my mind. And that’s why I do focus on police colours, on authority figures and the constant fight against what I see as oppressive presences. The arm of enforcement. There’s a huge police station round here, which has been incredibly hard for me, that shit fucks with me. It was actually the police station I was sent to when I got arrested.
What happened there?
Jake: I was homeless at the time and my head was fucked, I just didn’t give a fuck at this point in my life. I was just in that mentality of destruction and we went about with some paint just bombing everything I could find, next thing you know - police have rocked up and we’re in the back of the van. They’re then threatening to leather us about, all this dark stuff, very hands on with us all - which is an experience i’m sure plenty of people have felt too. In the station it was just one racial slur after another, but like what do you even do in that situation, these people have unchecked power and authority over you.
You know this shit ain’t right, but what can you do when you’re in their world? I think that's becoming more and more apparent by the day. It's fucked.
Do you focus on commissions more or just work for yourself that you like?
It’s funny like, I don’t do much sometimes, maybe it’s a bit prideful like nah I don’t rate that - and then I just end up sitting in here for hours painting stuff that proliferates the room. But it’s nice, you know, I can decide how much something should be and how I value it, and if someone wants it enough they’ll pay for it. And in the same sense, if I someone wants something else but don’t have enough money I can suit them for it too. It depends what it is, how long it took - what medium it is, it varies. I mean, technically the most valuable piece I’ve sold, I got 3 ounces for - which was pretty sick, nice trade.
I feel like i’ve been relatively lucky as of late, I think because everyone’s been stuck inside and they’ve got to look at their walls - they want something they like. I do some commissions, but mostly I just paint, I’ll then put it out there on my story or whatever and usually when someone likes the stuff they’ll take it off my hands. I feel like i’m really just in here, obsessively making art.
Social media plays a huge part in a lot of artists lives, what are you feelings on it as a whole?
Social media is tough, because it’s something that’s so unregulated in comparison to systems that have existed for a long time. Everything else in the world is regulated because we know the effect it has on everyone’s lives and just how they feel. But this is so fresh that it’s unchecked. You can be wealthy and show your wealth and then get more wealth from sponsors, just for being rich and having this platform. It’s crazy. And then people with nothing have to see it? Or, eating disorders or something like that. I’ve got a friend who suffers with these issues and if you look at their explore page, you won’t believe the shit this algorithm puts in front of them - it’s dark.
But you know, you also can’t deny the crazy benefits that social media can have for you if you’ve got a big portfolio and a following, it gives you so much opportunity. Even having the ability to communicate and connect with people who have similar interests and do similar things is unparalleled. You also learn a lot about the way people convey their emotions too.
Yeah, so that's another thing - obviously emotions and what's going on in your head is a big part of any art or work. It's tough for people to talk about that stuff and even tougher to get help.
Jake: Yeah it’s tough, it’s really tough because again no, education on emotional articulation and its really sad, truly sad. And then you look for these coping mechanisms which you can’t really appreciate are detrimental to you and damaging to your health. The way the fucking shit works, even regardless of what social class you’re from, in life there is always going to be stigmas, especially in this country. Whether it’s around benefits, therapy or medication - it’s crazy.
As soon as I was 18, I was like nah fuck that, I don’t need that (CBT). It wasn’t even that I didn’t like it, or hated it - it was just that I didn’t like that I went to CBT.
Yeah, you almost stigmatise yourself and then reject these things that can be really positive to you.
Jake: Literally and that’s kinda what I’m trying to undo now and go back to some sort - you know, no one is as well as they make out. Although, I've always had these different aspects paranoia and auditory delusions, been like this since childhood for me so, I guess it’s part of me and it’s not like I can separate me from it, you know? It just feels like it exists within me.
I’m not as bad as I was in college or something when I was completely fucking nuts, but I still can’t help but hear people and what people think. That’s what it is to me, but I feel like I hear what people think through their mannerisms, or what they look like or how they present themselves. And to some people they might just think that’s ‘looney talk’ or whatever. I can’t really stop that from happening, but I don’t think it’s always negative - it is just part of me. I mean don’t get me wrong, sometimes I can form these suspicions on people which are unwarranted, until it gets to a point where I talk to them about it, but it can be hard to know always what to trust.
I don't know where I end and where, like, it begins. It's not really like when I was a kid and I had a constant stream of, like, my comprehension and then I would have these external audible inputs, it’s just one and the same now, it's part of me and my thought process.
It can be difficult, but what’s the alternative, I still feel blessed to be here and blessed to be alive. I think the steps and barriers to getting the proper support and help you need sometimes are just mad though, like can I really jump through all these hoops to get to finally speak to someone who might be able to help me. I dunno, but I guess I need to sometimes, because I can separate myself for long periods of time - through delusions or paranoia or whatever it is at that point.
I feel like when I was younger it was more like a voice. And his adulthood, like, you know, for adolescence, they changed to be more like kind of fractured and like there's kind of maybe more negative. I don't really know. It's just more of a mix. Like, they really affect my mood. But it can be a different thing kind of talk, at a different time.
I’m not really good at talking about this, I don’t think i’ve really ever spoken about it since I was in CBT as a kid.
Yeah, that's totally understandable. It's tough to find words for this stuff sometimes really innit. We mentioned a bit before about distrust of the government, do you feel like we've been let down by this system we've been born into?
Jake: Honestly, like could anyone have betrayed their roots more than Labour has? Labour were more keen on chasing students and having Jeremy Corbyn go on stage at Glastonbury as opposed to listen. They didn't want to listen because they knew that a lot of white working class peoples like fears. And what they want to talk about is about immigration, because when people immigrate to this country, they go to the areas they can afford. So it's never the middle class students away at University. They'll never have to deal with the stresses that can come from people emigrated. It’s always the working class people who have to live amongst any kind of friction.
They deal with the brunt of it. That's why every student thinks “yeah, open the borders” all this kind of shit. Don't get me wrong, we need to help people that need somewhere safe to live, but you're not the one that has to deal with the friction that could come from this not being done properly. But instead of looking at how we manage integration and how to do it effectively, once again, blanket generalisations were made about racism and Brexit going hand in hand. It’s fucking mad.
We’ve been failed by the government, not by people who need a better life. The government aren’t investing in communities like ours, and it causes divisions and it breeds ignorance and hatred amongst the people who deserve it least. You can’t blame people for being frustrated that they see the world develop around them but not a single opportunity is open for them, those people who’ve struggled and done their best with what they’ve been given.
If you move people into an area and invest in them, it’s only natural that the existing communities there, who feel like they’ve been forgotten are gonna be pissed off and feel like they’re getting left behind. But, then a lot of us don’t have the education to know that it’s actually the government who are letting us down, and not the fucking people in closest proximity to us. You know? And then you’ve got champagne socialists telling the working class, who’ve been socialist forever, that they’re stupid or racist for feeling this way - when you lot are in charge and are creating these division.
I think we have to get money into the right people’s hands to actually create opportunity.
Jake: Yeah, I think it's these communities that we're in actually need to have a real solid, like coherence. You see it you see a bit in certain places, but you need like we need community gardens, community centres and all this kind of grassroots investment.
We need money to start going directly to communities rather than through Westminster. For example, having community funds like something for people. But the government are afraid of that. The government are afraid of communities being, you know, self governing, because then what's the point? What's the need for them anymore?
We have to make something from scratch, that doesn’t rely on the government but on each other. It's not that I think capitalism is like the greatest evil in the world or anything like that, but we need people who are willing to take, you know, sacrifice money or time for trying to create something new or at least try to at least put effort into creating something for communities, but it’s tough. People have responsibilities and you need money for all that shit, your house, your car, etc. The structure we live in forces people to sacrifice their time for money and it’s hard to resist a system in which everything lives. So I don’t blame people for it, we’re all guilty, but how much longer can we do it?
The main issue is people not having enough money. How like how we could plant vegetable gardens to alleviate a bit of like, you know, slide the slightest bit of food poverty maybe. How do you get how do we make people's circumstances better so they can have more? And that's where opportunities come in. Yeah, it's not about putting food, physical food or physical or even necessarily money. Yeah. It's maybe enabling people to break through those barriers.
Maybe we can do something like that moving forward, imagine, Longsight grown veg harvested at a local mosque, sell that off to all them posh Ancoats shops... could make a killing.
What's next for you?
Jake: I think just keeping doing what i'm doing, I had a workplace injury a while back and i'm finally just getting my body back to better health. So for now, it's painting, making stuff and hopefully selling some stuff so I can pay rent, haha.
Oh and I could probably do with like sorting my website out and getting stuff out there, but check my Instagram for my artwork and commissions, I'll shamelessly plug some stuff on there from time to time.
Thanks for sitting down with us Jake, and can't wait to get on some community endeavours with you!
Check out his art here and buy some stuff so you can feel good about yourself and your house.