JP King is an interdisciplinary artist, designer, and writer currently living in Toronto. In 2012, he founded Paper Pusher, a publication research laboratory whose experiments with Risograph printing have since made him a leader in the field. His collage, design, and writing has been featured in numerous publications, including Fast Company, Uppercase, Oxford University Press, Penguin UK, and Chronicle Books. Currently, he is the Creative Director of Papirmass.
Subscribers will receive JP’s artwork in the mail in March 2017. Subscribe by February 28.
Hi Jp! Tell us about the artwork we are featuring in Papirmass.
My Papirmass print (not pictured) is my favourite portrait from a series of collages called The Family Preservation Program. The original is wallet-sized, but has been enlarged so that you can see all these amazing details, like the paper fibre and torn edges. Each image has a “narrative title”, meant to tell a story. This one is: “The day I discovered vinyl we were sitting in a darkened room listening to a heartbeat dissolve into the clatter of a cash register, and then someone screamed.” Of course, this refers Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon – a real favourite!
What’s your creative process like?
My best work is always experimental because the moment I produce good results I trap myself in that formula. So, I’m always trying to do something I haven’t done before. Whether it begins with an idea, material, or technique, I play with it until it’s unfamiliar, all the while trying to ignore my expectations.
What is your typical day like?
While on most mornings I read to wake up my brain, the bulk of every day is spent differently because I work for myself and do a lot of different things. Regardless, I always draft a fresh to-do list alongside a schedule of my day. Then, I set my expectations impossibly high, get to work, but end most days with spill-over and guilt. And this gives me a great starting place for tomorrow!
What do you love about your studio
I love that my studio is an escape, a place I am free to daydream, play, and concentrate. Surrounded by inspiration, the next idea is always at arm’s length.
What frustrates you about your studio?
It’s always kind of messy. Because I am permanently curious about the world, I collect a lot of random stuff, but I find making a mess a lot easier than cleaning one up.
How has your practice changed over time?
Over the last decade, it’s become clear that I want to move on once I’m comfortable with a process. I am addicted to the type of thoughts produced in making something new. So long as I’m learning I am happy. However, this means that my practice is difficult to define as it ranges widely in medium, concept, and approach.
What challenged you the most at the start of your career?
Distinguishing between good opportunities and what I like to call “halfportunities” – those invitations that sound good at first but later prove to be a waste of time. That said, I firmly believe that I’ve benefited from every chance to contribute and share my work. Now, I get to be more selective and careful in where I invest my energy.
What’s the best thing about being an artist?
Being an artist is great because of the independence it affords. Lately, it’s come to be a catch-all term that means you act as a free-agent of cultural production. While you’re only responsibility is to yourself, you’re free to explore what you believe is important.
What’s the worst thing about being an artist?
Being an artist sucks because it offers so little security: financially, emotionally, or socially. Income is always being cobbled together rather than counted on; self-doubt runs rampant while ego inflates; inadequacies become glaringly apparent, and all your friends keep irregular hours (including your multiple personalities).
What role do artists play in society?
In creating something that didn’t exist before, artists serve their culture by challenging the senses and asking questions. This doesn’t mean that we always have to make something new, sometimes we just need to make something a little differently.