“I take inspiration from light-hearted things, like summer, plants or food, really anything I can find around me. I see my whole illustration routine as a stress reliever, and I think that comes across in the aesthetic of being fun, almost naive, and childish.” – James Christopher
Working as freelance artists or creative entrepreneurs can sometimes leave little room for our own creative pursuits. The personal time when you allow yourself to get off the beaten track, experiment, and try new things within your practice without a client calling the shots.
Our June artist, James Christopher, reminds us why it’s important to take time to create work for ourselves, why we should share the work we make, and the opportunities that may spring from it.
Read our interview with James below to learn more about his inspirations and approach to illustration and collage. You’ll notice how he doesn’t put limitations on his work and lets patterns and shapes playfully float around the scene.
If you want to see more of James’ work and join a community of amazing artists, be sure to follow us on Instagram. And click here to learn more about Papirmass and how you can bring creativity into your home!
Tell us about your artwork for Papirmass (not pictured).
My work is a rebellion against my day job as a graphic designer where everything has to be precise, to a rule and for a client. My illustration style is purposefully the opposite. It is messy, colourful, and almost meaningless.
Where does your work come from?
I take inspiration from light-hearted things, like summer, plants or food, really anything I can find around me. I see my whole illustration routine as a stress reliever, and I think that comes across in the aesthetic of being fun, almost naive, and childish.
How do you get into your creative zone?
I have to be in a particular mindset to create my illustrations. I couldn’t do it full time. I always need music, and I tend to enjoy working alone. My favourite days to work are rainy Saturday afternoons.
What’s your studio like?
I run my own graphic design studio, so I have an office not far from where I live, but I tend to keep my own art separate. I have a nice bedroom setup, with a desk facing the window, covered in plants, with all my art materials and speakers. I love that it’s a cosy workspace. Very easy to roll out of bed, and straight into creating something. Sometimes it gets too messy and is full of materials that I haven’t got around to using yet.
What are your most important tools?
My Wacom tablet and my speakers. I love the texture and variety of effects the tablet lets me create. And I couldn’t live without my speakers!
How has your approach changed over time?
The fundamentals have always stayed the same, but when I first started I was very secretive about my work. While I was finding my style I kept a hidden Instagram where I would post experiments. I even blocked all my friends so no one could find it. As it gathered a following, I became way more open about it. I feel like I must be doing something right!
What was difficult about starting out?
I’ve always had an interest in illustration, so initially, I felt a bit overwhelmed with trying to find a style and work out what it was I wanted to create.
How’s your career going?
The last year has been a bit crazy. I’ve had a couple of exhibitions of my work, sold lots of stuff through my online shop, had a few commissions and a really cool collaboration. That might not sound too crazy to most people, but having never taken my illustration stuff too seriously it’s been really cool to see people engaging with it.
What role do artists play in society?
Artists create snapshots of today’s society, which reflect the diverse facets of the human experience, particularly based in time and place, and I think that’s amazing. Uh oh, I’m having art history lecture flashbacks…
Any advice for aspiring artists?
Just put yourself out there. Spend some time every day making something, and keep pushing yourself to do new things. If you combine that with regularly publishing your work, you’ll soon see the benefits!