We’ve been admiring the quirky collages of jaybee_art on Instagram for quite a while. Surreal to the extreme, they remind me of some of my favs from art history – from Picasso to Gris – but with a contemporary twist. Each portrait uses a restricted colour palette, and conveys various emotions. We caught up with the man behind Jaybee, James Brooks for a chat about his art.
Croydonist: Firstly, tell us a bit about your background and connection to Croydon?
James: I was born in Croydon in the early 80s, studied in Croydon too. My friends and I partied at the Cartoon and Blacksheep Bar, but the main spot was Fairfield. I skated there and found myself in a creative crowd, which showed a big interest in graffiti art and art in general. This soon enough led onto street art.
I studied graphic design at LCP in Elephant and Castle where I learnt graphic design. I soon realised that I didn’t want to sit in front of a computer all day. I found it much more interesting to hang out in the print studio at uni, where I learnt how to screen print. This ended up being a true passion of mine.
Croydonist: What inspires your collages?
James: Living in Croydon, I feel that my environment inspires me a lot. The spectrum of different people that Croydon attracts makes it what it is. From walking down Surrey Street to the sunday jazz at the Oval Tavern, one always meets different people. The different stories and backgrounds and the concept of untold stories and what really matters to people inspire me. Pain, Love, Life and Death as themes are quite evident in most of my work.
Croydonist: How do you create your work – by hand, or on a computer, and how big is each piece?
James: All my work is done by hand. I feel that working digitally would sterilize the emotion in my work. The method I choose to make my work I feel is more organic and true to the theme and myself as an artist. I generally feel the artistic concept just comes out of me. The intended emotion is thought about through the whole process. Shapes and symbols are explored and reflected on over a period of time, to ensure the intended meaning is communicated through the composition of each piece. The success of the communicated meaning is completely reliant on the composition of symbols. Collage is amazing for me because it allows me to communicate my intended meaning – at the moment, hand cut collage is the best medium for that.
Croydonist: Do you see yourself as an illustrator or an artist, and do you take commissions?
James: I feel an illustrator is an artist. The difference to me is that an illustrator may work to a request or a brief in a possible commercial sense. I don’t work to exterior briefs. I don’t take commissions. I feel that this would hinder my thought process and work.
Croydonist: What are your plans for your art this year?
James: The plan for 2017 is to get back to basics and get back to the print studio. Recently screen printing has taken a back seat and I want to bring it to the foreground again. I think this may open up new avenues for my art. I also want to get my work out onto the street on a large scale, and Croydon will be the the first to see it. I’m really impressed with Croydon’s art scene so far and looking forward to seeing its new art in the rest of this year.
Thanks to James for chatting to the Croydonist. You can check out more of James’ work on his Instagram.
Posted by Julia