︎ INTERVIEW: JAMES WILSON
Prolific artist JAMES WILSON creates original prints and modern lifestyle pieces in his Brighton-based studio. Incorporating bold colours with line drawings, he primarily takes influence from nature and the human form. His work is stirking in it’s unobtrusive ambiguity, aiming to offer distraction from the usual oversaturation of life.
Stressing the importance of collaboration, James has designed products for various brands and has had his work featured in Vanity Fair, Habitat, Harper's Bazaar, as well as both London and Paris Fashion Week.
Check out Cortex's exclusive interview with James below.
I think it was fifteen months this January. Well that’s when I started the Instagram account, which is when I started taking a bit more seriously. I did music before, but I found my voice much quicker in art. I was making music for about six years and never really got anywhere.
I guess, even though music and art are such different mediums, going from one creative outlet to another isn’t totally starting from scratch though.
Yeah definitely, it’s like fresh eyes on a new project. For me getting into art was like a new start. You can rely on yourself totally as well which is great.
It is so practical; you make a product, and sell it. With art there’s so many different things you can do: you could make one original drawing then print it digitally, you could carve it and print it, you can screen print it, you can block print it... While a print might still be a piece of paper there are so many different ways of applying it.
Where do you draw inspiration from primarily?
A pretentious way of saying it would be: distilling the complexities of life into lines and colours. I think I started doing really minimal art just because everything is so over saturated. I just wanted to create something people could look at and understand without having to over complicate it. You can look at it and just enjoy it, there doesn’t have to be any deeper meaning. People can take whatever they like from my art; I don’t want to impose ideas on anyone.
What would you say to someone starting out who wants to be able to sell their work and make a career for themselves?
Go into it without the intention of making it your business. It has to be fun first. And you shouldn’t be disheartened if you make things and they don’t sell.
There’s lots of ways of going about it too. Like you can be an illustrator and make your own prints, and be self-sufficient. You can be an original artist and sell in galleries.
I also think social media is so important, that’s the best way to start for anyone - just post what you make. That’s how I started, and I tried lots of different things, posted them, then found what I liked doing and went with it.
What was the first piece you made that was a product rather than a print?
It was with Millie & Lou, which was the clothing line. The company made the items and I was paid a commission for them.
Would you say working with others is important then?
Collaborating with people or brands is so important; you can make things you wouldn’t necessarily have the means to do yourself. It’s all just about meeting people; the opportunities will arise from that. Just keep making and posting what you make - it’s the same as a musician making what they like and collaborating.
What products or collaborations do you have in mind this year?
I just want to work with lots of different people on lots of different things. I’m working with some photographers and other artists currently, making a book of images and inspiration.
I want to design some more lifestyle products too, not everyone wants to have art on their walls or wear it on jewellery or clothing. So I’m designing a candle range myself and also working with a soap company soon - one of my illustrations will be stamped onto a soap bar!
I just think it’s cool people seeing my work and enjoying it. Art isn’t practical in the sense that it does anything other than being something you look at. Whereas if you buy a candle or soap it can look nice but it has a practical use too.
I’ll turn my hand at anything really.
Interview and photos by NAOMI DAVISON