Like a lot of people, we came across Jay’s artwork through his feed on Instagram. We’ve been admiring his artwork and posts for a while and we just had to get an interview with him. Jay quit the mortgage business in October of 2014 to pursue a life as a fish artist. We reached out to Jay by email for this week’s “Art of Fly Fishing” interview with the Black Gnats.
Who or what inspired you to get into fly fishing?
I would have to say seeing my buds from high school that moved to Charleston for college. I was constantly seeing them posting photos of redfish on the fly. I thought it was the coolest thing because it just seemed like the ultimate way to catch a really awesome fish. That’s what got me thinking that I should start learning.
Who or what inspired you to get into art?
I was always into art growing up because my grandparents and my mom were artists to some extent. However, I was never really into it. I really got inspired to get into art when I needed to find a minor that I could do in one semester in order to graduate college – and the only one was art studio.
When did you realize that your passion for art and fly fishing could be combined?
After my first redfish on the fly. I caught it a couple weeks before the last semester in college, right before my art classes began. I couldn’t get fly fishing off my mind the entire semester, so every project was fish-related. I ended up getting a couple deals with t-shirt companies from class projects I had posted on Instagram. That’s when I figured out fly fishing and art were more than hobbies.
“My art has many different styles and I’m always experimenting. I think experimenting is a major part of being an artist.” –Jay Talbot
What’s the most inspirational body of water that you’ve fished and why?
So far, fishing the flats of Charleston is the most inspirational body of water, because every time I fish there I have so much hope and curiosity for what I might see or catch. That curiosity and hope definitely propels and motivates me in a career as a fish artist. My art has many different styles and I’m always experimenting. I think experimenting is a major part of being an artist.
If money were no object, and you could do only one thing, what would it be?
This probably sounds cliché, but I would fish every single day. There are so many fish on my list that I want to catch and I’d love to catch ’em all. There are so many cool places with cool cultures that I’d want to experience and top it off with massive fish on the fly. From billfish in Costa Rica, giant trevally on Christmas Island, roosterfish in Baja, California, Dolly Varden in western Alaska, and so much more. But, yeah, if money was no object then I’d go down the list of fish I’d like to catch on the fly!
If you could fish with one person, dead or alive, who would it be?
I would definitely fish with Flip Pallot. He seems like such a cool person from interviews that I’ve seen of him. Plus, he’s achieved a lot of what I want to. He had a passion and found a way to use that passion to propel his career in fishing and impact the fishing world greatly. I would definitely want to just listen to him all day on a fishing trip. That would be, without a doubt, a highlight of my life … if I ever had the opportunity to fish with him.
Where do you see the future of fly-fishing?
To be honest, I’m not too concerned with new technology in the fly fishing world. I’m mostly concerned with giving everyone interested in fly fishing a chance to get into it. I’m definitely seeing a movement of people who you would never stereotypically see fly fishing are in love with the sport and I think that is awesome. I see a lot of kids getting into it more and more. I just want everyone who wants to try it to be able to try it. I’ve personally been made fun of by my friends who aren’t into fly fishing. They don’t quite understand what it’s all about and about the patience it takes.
However, I see the culture of fly fishing catching on more and more. Saltwater fly fishing is getting popular and I’m so happy and excited about companies like Skinny Water Culture who are creating a culture surrounded by a lot of fly fishing. Companies like that are making it cool to fly fish. So I think that the future of fly fishing is going to keep on growing … that’s my hope.
How does your medium accentuate your artwork? Does it translate to your style of fly-fishing?
My favorite mediums to use are micron markers on bristol paper. I describe my style as “fine creative detail,” which means no two lines are the same in most of my pieces. If they are, then it’s a pretty unique way of capturing the detail of the fish or lure. I would say it does translate to my style of fly-fishing. I fish several different bodies of water—from rivers to lakes, to the coast—and I love trying to figure out how to catch the fish from scratch, if possible.
” … both my art style and my fly fishing style are similar because I do whatever it takes to achieve a certain outcome.” –Jay Talbot
When I’m fishing on the lake or the river, I get pretty creative with what I’m throwing and change up my retrieve a lot, doing whatever I can to hook up with smallmouth, largemouth and bream. On the coast, I fish with a guide so I just do whatever they tell me. But overall, both my art style and my fly fishing style are similar because I do whatever it takes to achieve a certain outcome.
What would you say to someone interested in fly-fishing but is too intimidated to start?
I would tell them that it’s okay to be intimidated but there’s absolutely no reason to not try. Everyone has to at least try something that they want to do. I’d tell them that fly fishing (and learning to cast) take time to perfect. Just start with the basics—knowing that it’ll take time to learn—and, honestly, anything worth anything is worth the time you have to put in. I feel like fly fishing has certain building blocks. First, you’re just getting it out there, trying to figure out how to set the hook on some bream. Then, you practice your cast and retrieve to the point where you’re going after some bass. Then, you’re learning the double-haul in order to fish for spooky redfish against the wind. And you just keep getting better and better at it. So like I said – just start! Take your time because it’s worth the time to learn.