VMA Best New Artist Nominee Frank Ocean, As Illustrated By Artist Jess Rotter

Artist Jess Rotter illustrated Frank Ocean as part of Buzzworthy’s Best New Artist “inspiration illustration” series.

Each of the 15 VMA categories carries its own prestige and distinction. But the VMA Best New Artist category is perhaps one of the night’s most anticipated categories. The Best New Artist category represents a diverse roster of some of the best and brightest new faces and names to enter the musical landscape and pop culture conversation over the past year. To celebrate the artistic influence of this year’s Best New Artist nominees on Buzzworthy, where we’re committed to celebrating pop music, pop culture, and, of course, music fans, I asked five different young artists to pay homage to the 2012 Best New Artist nominees with an “inspiration illustration,” to look at that musical artist and the impact of their art through another artist’s eyes. (Yes, we’re taking a break from animated GIFs for some real-deal art appreciation. We’re almost grown-ups!)

Each of this year’s Best New Artists has opened our minds (and, quite often, hearts) by writing a tribute to eternal youth (fun. and Janelle Monaé), writing an unforgettable (and unstoppably catchy) ode to first crushes (Carly Rae Jepsen), inciting boy band mania all over again (The Wanted and One Direction, of course), or by breathing new, poetic life into R&B (Frank Ocean). It may sound corny, but it’s true — how we as music fans experience music, videos, lyrics, and the visual images surrounding music creates a visceral, emotional bond that transcends music itself (I can’t remember the last time a song truly transported and swept me away the way Frank Ocean’s “Swim Good” did the first time I heard it). Essentially, this is an artist-on-artist series. Hopefully you’ll enjoy seeing how five visual artists connected to and interpreted each of the 2012 MTV VMA Best New Artist nominees.

The first up in the 2012 VMA Best New Artist “inspiration illustration” series is Brooklyn artist Jess Rotter‘s take on 2012 VMA Best New Artist nominee Frank Ocean and “Swim Good.” Here’s what she had to say:

Check out Jess Rotter’s 2012 VMA Best New Artist “inspiration illustration” of Frank Ocean after the jump.

“When the kind people at MTV Buzzworthy reached out about creating a piece for one of the Best New Artist nominees, Frank Ocean was no question who I wanted to pay a scribble homage to. His latest record is a lasting one, and filled with genuine honest heartthrobbin’ that I have utmost respect for. Orange is Frank’s thematic color of the moment — filled with desire, full of emotion but still in control — and I wanted that to breathe in this watercolor, as he is immersed in the trip.”

– Jess Rotter

Jess Rotter’s “inspiration illustration” of 2012 VMA Best New Artist nominee Frank Ocean. Click the image to expand.


About the artist: Inspired by ’70s rock luminaries early on from her dad’s vinyl covers and comic books, NYC-based master of poppy psyche scribble Jess Rotter paints and draws trippy worlds that have been exhibited in galleries and boutiques in New York City, Los Angeles, Marfa, and Tokyo. Her whimsical, hand-drawn illustrations have appeared on album covers (most recently Best Coast + Country Funk 1969-1975), book covers, wood burns, stickers, and shopping bags. Her clients have included Japanese Vogue, Pamela Love, Nylon, and Dossier. Her musical T-shirt label, Rotter and Friends (launched in 2006), has garnered major press accolades and a lovable cult following that has proven the label’s strength and led to a capsule collection with Gap’s Product RED and limited-edition band merchandise for artists such as Stevie Nicks, Kurt Vile, Peaking Lights, and Dungen. Rotter has been the features illustrator for Dossier Magazine since 2010. She was chosen as one of the “Gifted and Talented” artists of 2011 from Urban Outfitters, who shot a short film documenting her experience painting a permanent mural in room 1122 at the Ace Hotel in NYC. Her first graphic novel, “Paradise,” will be released in the winter of 2012. You can follow her on Twitter at @rotterandfrnds and on Instagram at @rotterandfriends.

Don’t miss the 2012 MTV VMAs live from the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Thursday, Sept. 6, at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

Credits: Photo: Nabil Elderkin; Illustration: Jess Rotter for MTV