Yung Jake tells us about copping a wild “Mad Max” truck
The L.A. artist bought a strange, beautiful beast off Craigslist
Yung Jake is an artist based in L.A., where his work includes mixed-media paintings and sculptures, digital collage, animation, songs, music videos, VR apps, and, as seen above, manipulated Instagram self-portraiture.
Installation view of Jake’s 2017 painting “kirby, dory and king pig (w king dedede and haunter)”. UV print, spray paint and ink on powder coated steel and found metal, 45 x 42 inches
Jake plays around with the iconography, detritus and micro-rituals of pop and internet culture. We love his 2014 piece “Unfollow,” which premiered at Los Angeles MOCA and which we caught last year in a show at SF’s McEvoy Foundation for the Arts. It also streams on YouTube, scrambling the line between “video art” and “music video,” not to mention irony & sincerity. Jake’s work can be fascinatingly tricky to pin down, or as a mutual friend of ours recently put it, “He likes to f**k with reality.”
Jake is most widely known at this point for his long-running series of emoji portraits, like these Larry David and Cam’ron classics, which were briefly available as t-shirts…
… or, more somberly, like the images he’s posted recently on Instagram commemorating and demanding justice for Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, Elijah McClain and Oluwatoyin Salau. (Jake made his portraits of Taylor and Floyd into benefit tees, too, but they’re sold out.)
Since BLACKBIRD SPYPLANE is yr No. 1 source across all media for “unbeatable recon” on dope under-the-radar joints & the people who love them, the other day we hit up Yung Jake and asked him to tell us about a rare & unique possession he cherishes.
“I’m down,” he texted back, before sending us a photo …
Blackbird Spyplane: What’s the story with this truck !!
Yung Jake: “I got it pretty recently off Craigslist. It’s like a Mad Max car: It’s the guts of an ‘88 Ranger with the body of a ‘62 Ranchero. It’s covered in rust and buffed-out paint and has a flaming eagle scarred into the side. Reinforced with diamond plating. It’s so one-of-a-kind, when I saw it, I felt like it found me.
Blackbird Spyplane: I think the internet reached its pinnacle with Craigslist. Were you on that site specifically hunting for an ‘88 Ranger?
Yung Jake: “Yeah, my last car was a ‘91 Ranger so I looked up ‘ranger’ and this monster came up. I really like the older, pre-mid-’90s models of Ford trucks, before they started to make them less boxy. And I love trucks but know nothing about mechanics, so it was the type of thing where I saw it online and went to Artesia with my mechanic, my good friend Junkyard Joe, to look at it. I didn’t buy it at first, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I felt if I didn’t get it, it would be something I’d regret for a lifetime. I’m also working on a kids’ cartoon that’s heavily based on modified vehicles, so it seemed fitting.”
Blackbird Spyplane: It’s eye-catching.
Yung Jake: “It’s sorta annoying the amount of looks and comments I get, tho. I strangely didn’t anticipate that.”
Blackbird Spyplane: What do people say?
Yung Jake: “Mostly compliments but, like, I gave my friend a ride to a protest one day and a guy commented on where it parks, which implies he knows where I live. I def sacrificed some anonymity by having it.”
Blackbird Spyplane: Jake, what’s up with the 🕷?? Spooky.
Yung Jake: It’s a decorated crack.
Blackbird Spyplane: Yeah, this truck’s gonna get noticed…
Yung Jake: “I’ve had it for like a month and it’s already been broken into. Well, I left it unlocked by accident, and someone tried to hotwire it, trying to steal it, but they couldn’t because of an anti-theft system it came with that I’m not going to disclose.”
A vintage promo image for the ‘62 Ranchero
Blackbird Spyplane: What’s going on as far as this being one vehicle that’s inside another vehicle?
Yung Jake: “So it’s technically a hot rod. A mechanic in Bakersfield who works on cars had the Ranger and a junked Ranchero — like, its engine was shot — so he took the body off the Ranger chassis and replaced it with the Ranchero body. So it’s, like, a Ranger truck with the skin of a Ranchero car. That’s why it sits so high on the wheels. The owner I bought it from bought it like that, planning to work on it with his friend, but his friend died. So it’s in a sorta unfinished state.”
Blackbird Spyplane: Does this era of Rangers have a cult following?
Yung Jake: “I don’t think so — I just like them. It’s a basic truck. There’s more of a cult around Broncos. ”
Installation view of Jake’s old ‘91 Ranger at his 2017 show “Caution: Wet Floor,” at Steven Turner.
Blackbird Spyplane: What happened to yr last Ranger? Did it break down?
Yung Jake: “Yeah :( ”
Blackbird Spyplane: You included it in a 2017 exhibition — looking at installation views online, I see how it fit in with the paintings at that show.
Yung Jake: “I painted it yellow and added the art. There was something that didn’t sit right with me driving something with my art on the side, but I grew to appreciate it. I’m gonna keep the new one as-is for now.”
Memorial art that Jake made for his last truck
-Yung Jake’s website is here and you can follow him on Instagram here
-His design company, tig.ht, is here
-They made a free online emoji-portrait creation tool, here
-You can see artwork from him at Steven Turner gallery.
-He’s on Apple Music here
-His VR app On My Way is here