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Hamilton Art Crawl: Manic Panic Beatnik

Blog/PromotionMarch 9th 2022
Sarah Jessica Rintjema

Jake Fine, better known as Manic Panic Beatnik, is an eclectic visual artist working out of The Steel City. The painter pastes together collages of magazine clips, monsters, musicians and movie references, resulting in twisted displays of media and panicked, warped internal thoughts.

Fine, originally from Richmond Hill, moved to The Hammer after their parents split up.

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“My dad lives in North York, has taken me to lots of concerts, and knows a ton of cool people,” says Fine. “I’ve only started going to Hamilton about a year ago when I first met my girlfriend.”

Fine finds comfort in their messy, impromptu personal style.

“I’d say my art is pure chaos,” says Fine. “It’s probably a combination of everything that I love. Most of my art is improvised on the canvas but the style itself is the closest thing to what’s in my head. One friend said that he loved the way my art, ‘attacks your eyes,’ and I can’t think of a better way to describe it.”

Although they don’t consider themselves a “proper” artist, Fine has found an audience through social media and sharing their art in local circles.

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“I’m not properly trained in art,” Fine says. “I can’t draw a face that looks real, I’m just lucky that I found a format that compliments my current ability enough to meet my expectations. There’s so many artists who make some really great stuff that are a lot more talented than I’ll ever be. I guess I’ve just found something different enough to be noticed.”

Manic Panic Beatnik takes a lot of inspiration from movies, specifically special effects pioneers like Ray Harryhausen and Eiji Tsuburaya.

 “I couldn’t find anything that was like the ideas I had in my head, so I just saved everything that I liked on Instagram,” says Fine. “I have a saved folder of probably over 300 posts from different users, some personal friends and others are people who live in other continents. One of my close family friends is also a fantastic artist who is also a member of The Class Collective! My dad took me to one of their shows a couple years ago and they’ve been huge inspiration to my recent paintings.”

Fine started drawing at age ten, a year later they started experimenting with clay.

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“I used to make little Godzilla figures out of clay, and little towns for them to destroy,” said Fine. “I've always been obsessed with him. Being a kid with ADHD meant I've had a lot of hyper-fixations, Godzilla just so happens to be the one that’s stuck around the longest.”

Fine’s passion project isn’t exactly paying the bills, but they prefer to keep their artistic budget to a minimum.

“I hate to say it, but I try making my art for pretty cheap,” said Fine. “The canvases and prints of old movie posters and other old diagrams or large pieces of text are the only hard part, because I have to find them in books or print them. I’ve got a mini-collection of books from thrift stores that I rip apart, and under my desk there’s a ton of newspapers and clippings and all sorts of garbage just waiting to get glued onto a canvas.”

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In September of 2021, Fine’s girlfriend introduced them to Mulberry Cafe, who were searching for local artists to display their work on the coffee shop’s walls.

“I applied, and a couple months later they sent me an email saying they wanted to sell them!” says Fine. “I wasn’t even sure I wanted to let them go. My art has become so personal and most of it projects my insecurities and self-doubt, that I wasn’t sure I wanted someone to have it up in their own house. Currently I’ve only sold four pieces at Mulberry, and four more are now up for sale if anyone happens to want one. The first four that were up all sold to one buyer which is still shocking to me, I didn’t think anyone would really notice them let alone want to own them.”

All Seeing Arts Collective is a Toronto-based arts collective started by Fine themselves, ideally helping the artist to expand their connections and begin putting together arts-based events.

“I started it back in September, it’s my little plan of breaking my way into the art/event planning scene,” said Fine. “Whether I can even manage to get it going is a whole other topic. As far as the name and logo, I’ve recently found myself obsessed with eyes. Tons of my paintings I use eyes, I put them on everything. They don’t have any particular meaning beyond I just love the way they look.”

Manic Panic Beatnik has a large five-year plan that includes expanding their following, booking arts shows, and getting into playing music.

“I also play guitar and occasionally sing really badly,” jokes Fine. “I’m hoping I can play some underground shows with some great people. I feel like breaking into the scene is so impossible and I don’t know how I’m gonna make it happen. I’m not even sure the scene will have me. I wanna try and make an Etsy and find more people that enjoy my art. I don’t expect to make it a source of income. It’s not about the money as much as it’s just making so I don’t have a mass of chaotic canvases in my room.”

You can keep your eye on Jake Fine’s art by following their Instagram page @manic.panic.beatnik , and by watching out for an Etsy page in the future.

“I can’t promise I’ll manage to do any art shows or cool concerts because I don’t even know how to set that kind of stuff up,” said Fine. “I don’t even drive yet. I do hope to make some more art, and play more guitar, and try to find other places willing to put my stuff up. Whether I’ll get lucky again to find a place willing to do so is something only time can tell.”