Charles Jett, owner of Empty Coffin Studios, has been part of the Jackson art scene for many years. His studio has been in the North Midtown Arts Center for four years.
"I call my studio 'Empty Coffin' because I plan to be doing this until I'm in my coffin, and then, it won't be empty anymore," Jett says with a laugh. "The studio basically holds all the creative stuff I do lumped into one heading—lots of painting, lots of illustration and film work. The name is also partly because I tend more toward horror in my film work."
Jett, 48, graduated from St. Joseph High School before going on to Hinds Community College, where he took commercial art courses. His first job after college was in 1988 as a designer for Stamm Advertising, which used to be located on Upton Drive. He stayed with Stamm for eight years and worked for numerous other sign companies in the metro area over the years. He currently has a day job making lighted signage for Rainbow Signs.
"I don't make much of a separation between commercial and fine art for myself; painting or creating a logo is all design for me. I consider myself just as tech-advanced as anyone now, but with a traditional background in drawing and hand illustration, and a penchant for sketching on paper first rather than by computer," he says.
Jett has also been working on film projects through Empty Coffin Studios, with a focus on horror films. He wrote and directed the short film "Pinkie Swear," working with filmmaker Wade Patterson. Jett describes the 16-minute film as a psychological thriller about a doctor who lost his wife to a tragic illness and later finds both love and betrayal.
Currently, Jett is working on a documentary with Richard Stowe, a local filmmaker whose company Lotus Additions is also in the NMAC. The documentary details the life of retired Mississippi artist Ed Millet, whom Stowe is also planning a homecoming event for to coincide with the documentary's release.
"You won't find a richer group of people to associate with than Jackson artists and filmmakers," Jett says. "There are lots of people who are willing to help others, and you're sure to be able to learn from people both older and younger than you.
"I think you can find more diverse opinions and more talent per square
mile in the Jackson metro than anywhere else. My advice to anyone looking to break into the Jackson art scene is to be diligent, always be creating and working, and don't fear collaboration. Dream it, and you can do it."