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December 18, 2023

The New Precisionists

A trio of artists is repurposing hard-edged aesthetics for the Fourth Industrial Revolution
Credit: Dylan Wade, See you soon, 2023. Courtesy of the artist
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The New Precisionists

Back in September, Grant Yun drew attention to a movement of digital artists dedicated to the industrial allure and simple geometries of vector graphics. Of this new generation, Jeremy Booth, Yomi Dinero, and Dylan Wade all share certain visual priorities that have come to be associated with “Neo-Precisionism.” By carefully constructing complex compositions from simple 2D shapes, flat bands of color, and sharp angles, their works reimagine the visual codes established by the original Precisionists in the early twentieth century. 

Yet this new iteration is more than a mere stylistic tribute, reflecting a generation’s technostalgia as well as the appeal of American modernism for a new community of digital creators. These artists use vibrant color palettes to reframe mundane snapshots of everyday life around the world. In the process, they are reappropriating Americana for crypto art’s global collectors. Here, the new generation discusses what precisionism really means with Katherine Howatson-Tout.

Jeremy Booth, Night Watch, 2023. Courtesy of the artist

Katherine Howatson-Tout: Precisionism is often characterized by simple shapes and essential geometrical structures consisting of clear outlines, minimal detail, and smoothly polished surfaces. How important are these visual priorities for you, and do you consider yourself as part of a new movement of digital precisionists?

Jeremy Booth: This minimal or precisionist approach is a pillar of my style and I have been creating in this way for over a decade as a commercial illustrator. The harsh shadows, minimal color, and graphic nature are what I love the most. There has been a slight uptick in the popularity of precisionism within the NFT community, but this new take on graphic style and its popularity has been present for a while. 

Dylan Wade: The simplicity of precisionism feels like a root principle of the style, though the degree of detail is highly subjective. 

When creating more detailed works, it comes down to using those core shapes in order to build it up. The result may look more polished, but the underlying shapes are key.

As for creating digitally, being part of a movement is a strong statement. I’ve only been illustrating for a year and I don’t feel that I have the resume to claim a part, though I’m very passionate about this style and plan to help push it forward by creating as much as possible.

Yomi Dinero: Simple shapes and geometrical structures are evident in most of my work as I try to tell stories through the use of lines, geometric shapes, and simple colors, thereby revealing beauty in simplicity. My work can be seen as a fusion of minimalism and precisionism.

Yomi Dinero, The Flour Mill, 2022. Courtesy of the artist

KHT: The original Precisionists were a loose grouping of artists associated with a particular moment in US history following World War I that saw a significant shift in the social and economic landscape due to the modernization of heavy industry. How does your digital practice develop or reframe former notions of precisionism?

YD: My works draw inspiration from some of the earliest Precisionists such as Charles Sheeler, George Ault, and Charles Demuth. Back then, most Precisionist work highlighted the advancement of time, technology, and industrialization. In a few cases, my works have highlighted the changes resulting from industrialization and how they have affected our daily lives in a positive way. However, my work is not confined to the focus of the earliest Precisionists by highlighting the modernization of heavy industry. 

I work with this style to explore colors and create art that I find aesthetically pleasing and, most importantly, to create a nostalgic feeling through my art. My works tell stories that are important in our daily lives.

JB: The notions of the Precisionist movement never framed or reframed my art practice. I came from a graphic design background and grew into the style I have today mainly through the influence of artists I like and those who came before me. I never connected with the Precisionist movement until it gained popularity in the NFT space. I appreciate the artists of that time, but those artists didn’t directly guide me to where I am today.

DW: While Precisionism depicts a more industrial narrative, my work blends heavily into American Regionalism. The shapes and geometry of Precisionism are my aesthetic choices, but I also enjoy adding the cozy nostalgia of Regionalism.

Dylan Wade, Passing By, 2023. Courtesy of the artist

KHT: Could you describe the process of developing a particular motif and executing the final work?

DW: I typically only begin a piece now if it strikes a feeling before starting. By visualizing the ideal finished work, I can decide whether or not to proceed. Execution is straightforward as I set rules regarding shapes and colors, and sticking to them is the only way to hit the mark in my head. 

When I begin not to like where a piece is going, it’s most likely because there are too many shapes without intention.

YD: Every piece of art that I create starts with an idea and the urge to pass a message. Sometimes, it could be an interesting location where I have been, my current mood, or else life experiences and memories. Afterwards, I start with the sketches and the application of colors to bring my imagination to life in a very interesting, minimal, and precise form.

JB: My work begins with reference material. Once or twice a year, I photograph cowboys to use as references, sifting through them to find the right subject. I then think through the background and combine it as a rough sketch. From there, I create a digital version in a grayscale. Lastly, I refine and add color. 

Jeremy Booth, Over the Ridge, 2023. Courtesy of the artist

KHT: One of the hallmarks of crypto art is nostalgia for past technologies and a reflection on early video game aesthetics. What do you regard as your primary influences, and how has your style evolved over time?

JB: When I began my illustrative journey over ten years ago, artists like Amleto Dalla Costa and René Gruau laid the foundation for me on how I wanted to draw moving forward. After many years of that influence, I found my style. Now, my influences come more from a place or subject matter and composition, and less from [a particular] style. Western artists like Ed Mell, Mark Maggiori, and Maynard Dixon are a few that inspire me today. 

DW: Since my early teenage years, I’ve created hundreds of personal videos, seeking to capture moments in order to remember them and edit meaningful compilations with the clips I’ve accumulated. These works are very similar. Whether it’s a piece based on a feeling, an old memory, or something familiar, I pull from those emotions. Now, after a year of illustration, I’ve settled into themes of nostalgia, day-to-day happenings, and relatable feelings. 

As someone born in the 1990s, our generation has seen a wild amount of change in such a short time, and it’s comforting to create scenes that feel like home.

YD: My work communicates to my audience, influenced mostly by changes in time, technologies, the environment, and life experience. Over the years, I have improved my art style by demonstrating photorealism in works like The Toll Plaza (2022). That has helped to push my limits, but I have also made quite a few mistakes along the way. I am still on the journey of evolution and change, constantly striving to learn more and hone my skills.

Yomi Dinero, The Toll Plaza, 2022. Courtesy of the artist

KHT: Can you share anything about your collectors and what they prize in your work? How important is community to your practice? 

YD: My collectors are a driving force in my art career both in Web3 and IRL. I am always thankful to every one of them. Many of my collectors have also given me advice on my art, marketing, and have shared their life experiences. Some of the things they cherish in my art include its clean appearance that draws the eyes in, the subject matter and stories, as well as my process and choice of color palette.

The NFT community has exposed me to a lot of great art by talented artists across the world, which has challenged me to improve my own skills. I am inspired by Grant Yun, Terrell Jones, Jeremy Booth, and many others. This community has served as my support system since I joined in early 2022. I believe that an artist will thrive in this space if surrounded by a supportive group of friends. I can say that I am blessed with a very supportive community.

JB: I have had a great experience with my collectors. They respect me and my work for a few reasons. The first is that I have a history of art-making before I entered this space; the second is that only a few folks do Western art in this space, and my take on this tradition is very different and authentic. 

Community is everything — I try to keep folks in the know and create a feeling that they are on this ride with me. 

DW: Firstly, all of my collectors are fantastic, and I’m humbled that anyone would ever care to have my work. As for why they collect, I hope it’s because they relate to the pieces in their own way. My bio reads: “Through suggestive shapes and ambiguous scenes, hopefully, viewers will find their own memories in my work.” Maybe that sums it up. In the NFT space, community is very important. If people don’t trust you, I can imagine it causes hesitation in collectors, which is also why I go by my real name rather than an alias.

Dylan Wade, Spring Storms, 2023. Courtesy of the artist

KHT: Web3 is often celebrated as a borderless art world, and while the original Precisionists often responded to the styles of the European avant-garde, they also captured a specific slice of American life. How tied are your works to a physical location and, perhaps, to your own personal story? Is it important that your images register as universal?

JB: At least for now, my work is tied to one location: the American West, specifically the Southwest. Although cowboys exist worldwide, including in Mexico and Italy, my work is specific to the American West and is not universal. Although it is tied geographically, you can go to most places and the cowboy will resonate with people. It evokes a sense of independence, hard work, and respect. 

YD: While some of my art captures specific locations and subject matter in Nigeria, some works also communicate random aesthetics, subjects, and experiences that people can easily connect with and enjoy, irrespective of their location, background, race, and lifestyle. 

In some cases, there are some figurative messages communicated through my art, and I am always thrilled when people can easily find their meaning in it.

DW: I often have strong memories or emotions tied to a piece, though those are largely only important to me. I hope that there are enough people out there who can relate their own memories to the scenes.

Jeremy Booth, Passing By, 2023. Courtesy of the artist

KHT: The precarious place of the blue-collar worker underscored Precisionism in its original incarnation at a time when machines were replacing human labor. How do you view the relationship between human creative labor and that of machines today? Is this important to your art?

JB: I’m not sure there is much of a connection between the two. My subject matter conveys an older time when human labor was its core value; I try to highlight that as much as I can in my work.

YD: I’d like to think that the advancement of technologies and industrialization has brought a great level of improvement to human lives via architectural design, art, transportation, communication, learning, and so on. In the art world, we can see the evolution of art from its traditional form into the digital. Likewise, introducing AI could help humans brainstorm and develop new concepts for our daily activities. I believe that no machine can take away what you know. It is up to us to create a synergy that will contribute to our development.

DW: One of the reasons I fell in love with this style is because it’s quite calculated. My wife is a high school art teacher and incredibly skilled in several mediums, including painting, watercolor, sculpture, and printing. She prefers all the physical routes, and I’ve briefly tried painting with her, but it didn’t click. When I began working in Adobe Illustrator, I immediately enjoyed the fine-tuned shapes and tedious ways of arranging them. That said, it’s neat that there is a process for anyone to enjoy. 

As we enter a new phase of AI art, I’d suggest to those artists to try some of the mediums their outputs are emulating. 

It’s very rewarding to build a new skill, and while manipulating outputs is a skill, it feels a bit removed from any other form of creation. This comes from someone who used to care only about the outcome rather than the process, but understanding the choices of an artist who began a piece from scratch is more interesting to me now.

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Jeremy Booth is a contemporary artist known for his minimalist and cinematic approach to pop art. His work is a fusion of classic Western themes and modern design elements, creating a unique style that has captivated collectors worldwide. He has been profiled in top art and design publications such as Juxtapoz, Creative Boom, Design Milk, and Dwell, while his work has been featured on leading digital art platforms, including Foundation, Nifty Gateway, and SuperRare. Booth’s blending of traditional Western iconography with a contemporary sensibility has made him one of the most exciting artists in digital and traditional art.

Abayomi Okeowo (artist name Yomi Dinero) is a 23-year-old digital artist from Nigeria. He is currently studying at the University of Lagos and has been practicing digital art for seven years. His work is a fusion of minimalism and precisionism, telling stories through the use of lines, geometric shapes, and simple colors that reveal beauty in simplicity. His inspirations range from architectural design to his surrounding environment to life experiences and memories. Yomi joined Web3 in early 2022 to give more value to his art and to connect with creatives across the world. He has exhibited globally and his works have sold on NFT marketplaces including Foundation, Objkt, Opensea, and SuperRare.

Since his early teenage years, Dylan Wade has created hundreds of personal videos whose wide-ranging content is unified by nostalgia. His work captures moments through the meaningful compilation of different clips, eliciting feelings, old memories, and familiarity in the process. Through suggestive shapes and ambiguous scenes, hopefully viewers will find their own memories in his work.

Katherine Howatson-Tout is Assistant Editor at Right Click Save.