Today, we are spending time getting to know video game Creative Director and father of two, Lynell Jinks. He has been awing his children and others with his amazing brown bag art for years. His ability to bring characters and other pop culture icons to life is simply astounding. You can find more of Lynell's work on Facebook and Instagram.
Tell me a little bit about your background... Who you are; what made you interested in art?
I was born and raised in the Bay Area surrounded by tech and creativity. I have always had a passion for drawing and art since I can remember. Growing up, I was surrounded by family members and classmates who all shared that same passion. At 19, I started my career in the Video Game Industry. I have now been in this industry for over 20 years, it’s been a long, fun and sometimes demanding journey, but I am very fortunate to be the Creative Director on the WWE2K video game franchise.
Who are your current art inspirations and how do they affect your art process?
I’m inspired by many things, Pop Culture, Video Games, Sports, Movies, TV Shows, Star Wars, and Art. One of my hobbies is drawing caricatures, so I am really inspired by Sebastian Krueger and Jason Seiler. I’ve had the privilege of working with some really talented artists, they are the ones who motivate me to be better at my job and keep up on learning new technologies.
What made you choose to showcase your art on brown bags?
Ironically, when I started working as an artist in the Video Game Industry, I stopped drawing on a consistent basis, drawing became an afterthought. I became more focused on digital art and 3D modeling. Working my way up from character artist to Art Director of the NBA 2K franchise didn’t really leave me with a lot of time for practicing my craft traditionally. In 2011, my wife asked me to draw something on my sons brown bag that he was taking on a field trip. I spent about 5 minutes on an Iron Man sketch on his brown bag. I wasn’t crazy about how it turned out, but he loved it. Apparently, the brown bag art was a big hit with his classmates and his teachers. That week, my son asked me to draw a few more for him, I spent about 10 minutes on these. I was a little happier on how these turned out, but his reaction was priceless, it was as if I painted the Mona Lisa on his brown bag. Unfortunately, those two bags ended up being the last ones I created for a couple of years.
My daughter was starting 2nd grade at a new school, and my wife and I could tell that she wasn’t having the easiest transition making friends. I decided to take matters into my own hands. One morning I decided to draw a little something on a brown bag, in the hopes that it would help break the ice with her new classmates. I spent 5 minutes on a sketch of the Monster High logo on her bag, (which was all the rage with the girls back in 2013). My daughter came home so happy that day, saying that all the teachers and kids kept coming up to her asking her about her bag. That winter, my daughter asked me to draw Elsa on her bag (Frozen had just come out, and like every girl in the world, she was obsessed). I fulfilled her request with a 5 minute sketch, and low and behold, the end result was absolutely TERRIBLE! My daughter...liked it. Don’t get me wrong, she wasn’t ungrateful, but she had that “you gave it your best shot Daddy,” look on her face. I know my daughter was happy, but I felt like she deserved better. It bothered me that I only had 5-10 minutes to spare for my kids, the two things I love most in this world. Call it ego, disappointment, narcissistic, whatever it was I couldn’t shake it the rest of the day. That night I went home and used my kids’ markers and colored pencils and went to work. I put in a solid hour on each bag, still feeling a little rusty and not completely comfortable with the tools I was working with, I was pleased with the effort I put in and was happier with the result.
The next morning my kids woke up and were thrilled beyond belief, it was the same kind of reaction that they get from opening a present on Christmas! Their reaction filled me with so much joy and filled a void in my heart that I forgot was there. I felt like a true artist again, I knew I could always pull something out if I needed to, but not practicing that skill on a consistent basis made me feel incomplete, like I lost a piece of myself. I ended up drawing on two bags a night the rest of that school year. With each bag, I got faster and sharper, I hadn’t drawn that much in almost two decades. My friends on social media took notice. One of my friends started adding hashtags to my posts on Instagram. That’s when I realized there were other parents doing the exact same thing for their kids. I was in blown away by the artwork these parents were creating on their bags. Artists like ScGoon, Doodlebags, Domnxart, capitalartworks, anadart, lovepaperpaint, bbaltimorebrown, and Bindustudios, just to name a few. This community of Brown Bag Parents keep me motivated and inspired. I might have gone a little overboard that first year by doing two bags a night from January to June of 2014, so I decided to cut back to doing them once a week. Now, my Sunday nights are spent putting in an hour to an hour and a half on each bag, just to see those Monday morning smiles!
What are your thoughts on the art community in your area?
Unfortunately, I don’t really get out much, it’s too bad because there is a pretty amazing art scene in the Bay Area. It would be nice to take a class at the local community college, or attend a figure drawing session at Pixar, but right now I really value my time with my wife and kids. However, If I’m feeling inspired, I’ll crack open my iPad, Apple Pencil and bust out a quick sketch in ProCreate. If I’m feeling bold, I’ll slap on my Oculus Rift and start sculpting inVR with Medium.
How have your children changed your life, both personally/professionally as an artist?
My children are everything, they are the best thing to ever happen to me. Being a father is the best job I’ve ever had, and this is coming from someone who makes video games for a living. As an artist, my kids are the ones responsible for reintroducing me to my passion for drawing. Throughout the years, I would work on a digital painting in Photoshop and post it on social media. The response and support I would get from my friends was great, but with that came instances of people asking me to draw them something. For some reason, these requests took the fun out of it for me, it no longer felt like a hobby, it felt like a job. Rather than declining their offer, I would accept it, and force myself to do the work. It got to a point where I just didn’t want to draw anymore, I went years without drawing anything at all. But when it comes to my kids, I look forward to drawing for them, they made drawing fun again for me. As for the requests, I have learned to decline without feeling guilty or strange about my reason.
How are they involved in your art?
My kids are my inspiration, they are the driving force behind my creativity. I’ve always been interested in the things they like from afar, but since I started drawing on their bags, I’ve been genuinely in to their interests. What took me by surprise was how interested they were in Pop Culture from my youth. We even started a new tradition, every weekend we alternate watching shows and movies from my youth, to current movies and shows that they are interested in. I will continue to draw on their bags until the day comes where they no longer want me to, but until then we’re enjoying this bond we have, our movie nights, and celebrating it through #brownbagart.
How has your background as an artist affected your children? Do you think having an artist dad helps inspire their creativity?
I believe having a father who is an artist has definitely had an impact on my kids. They love working on art projects, drawing on their own brown bags, painting, making their own toys, etc. However, I do worry that I’m unintentionally putting pressure on them that they need to be as good as me. I let them know that it took years of practice and that I’m still learning with every drawing. I try not to offer drawing advice unless they ask me for it, one of my fears is that they become discouraged because they feel they can’t live up to the standards I set for myself. I love watching them create, I hope that I continue to inspire them to appreciate art, to be creative, and express themselves in which ever way feels right to them.
I would like to thank Lynell for taking the time to participate in this interview. More importantly, I would like to thank him for utilizing his artistic abilities and creativity to make a difference in his children's lives. Don't forget to show Lynell some love on Facebook and Instagram.
Is there a parent who is an artist you know who could provide us some Monday motivation? If so, please send me their name and a link to their work (or social media account) to LunchNoteSketch@gmail.com, or tag them in any Monday motivation post on any of the Lunch Note Sketch social media pages. I would love to feature him/her.