JIMC is a local illustrator who was brought to my attention during a visit to Flo & Stan’s on Albert Road when looking for a birthday card. I was really stoked to see such rad designs by a local artist for sale and was instantly drawn to them. The distinctive style and subject matter was something I really connected with and was certainly keen to get in contact and learn more.
I hope you enjoy the designs and our exclusive Strong Island interview as much as I did. Enjoy.
You’re a local lad! How long have you lived in Portsmouth and what inspires you most about the city?
I first got to know Portsmouth a few years back when I started a VW show here called Beach Buggin’. It wasn’t until more recently however that I moved to live in the area. I love the history of the place as well as the friendliness and individualism of its people. It seems like a melting pot for various cult scenes which inspires me. It’s also a little bit frayed around the edges which I kind of like and think adds to its charm.
This obvious inspiration results in some amazing work. You speak about places on your website that you like to hang out and enjoy where you can take time to relax and remove yourself. Do you walk around and see things you would like to work from, and if so what are some of your favourite buildings, shops and areas locally to visit?
Thanks for the complement about my work – It is really just a hobby and something I find myself impulsively doing. I often walk or cycle around the seafront to relax and daydream looking at the architecture and people watching. I often look at buildings and street scenes and imagine them in my head as one of my pictures and how I would portray them. Unfortunately I tend to imagine more pictures and scenes than I get time to produce…
You seem to generally concentrate on architecture and locations. Is this something you have a passion for outside of illustration?
I have inspiration for other subject matter but yes I do love architecture and it does seem to work most easily for me. My day job is working as a 3D architectural visualiser and graphic designer. Posing this question makes me think that maybe my artwork is a bit of me rebelling against the photo realistic stuff that I have to produce each day.
What are your creative processes and techniques from initial location to final print, and do you already have an image in your head of the desired outcome?
I work very much in the digital world and I’m self-taught albeit a couple of night classes. I tend to get inspired by a building or scene then imagine what I think the end result should be! Even if it eventually comes out differently which I kind of like. Typically I work from my own photos then I digitally trace and layer up to get the effect I’m looking for.
What do you consider to be the key elements in composition? It was interesting to see your personal view on the Kings Theatre where most people interpret it looking down from Albert Road!
I think from my day work I’ve learned that it’s always good to seek a dramatic angle. It’s key also to have some life in the picture. I really enjoyed doing the Kings Theatre piece, the reason I chose that particular angle was partly for the detail. Aside from the buildings, I really wanted to capture the retro antiques van in the background. In the base photo that I used, I also happened to get a guy on his bike at the junction. This was kind of neat for adding some life to the scene.
Your style is very distinctive with the use of white space, line and colour blocking. What drove this artistic direction?
I love the clean aesthetic of block colour vector work. I block out certain bits in white for various reasons. Sometimes just for how it looks and sometimes to leave something to the imagination. I’m a fan of old style Japanese wood block prints so there’s probably some influence on my direction from that as well.
You work using a very consistent colour palette. This really ties all the prints together, especially the Southsea ones. What’s your reasoning behind your choice of muted colours as it’s very effective mixed with the stark black line drawing.
I played around quite a bit with colours before I settled on this range. I really like a muted matte finish so I knew I was looking for something similar and am pretty happy with this sort of style. I also love Japanese Manga comics for their line work. Typically they are just black white and I guess quite stark. They have certainly influenced the style of my work in terms of me looking for a certain contrast and keeping the colours limited in number.
What do you find most engaging about your subject matter? I’m a real fan of architecture and buildings, and can find myself looking at the way light shadows the angles of structures for ages.
I can totally understand that and I do the same! I love shadows in art and architecture, they can change the mood and drama of a space or building. I try to choose the time of day to take my source photos, to influence the final look and feel of my artwork. The thing that engages me most in my subject matter is finding and working on what I think is an interesting detail and which I hope people will enjoy looking at.
You speak about your illustrations taking you away to a fun place. Do you see your work as a form of escapism and relaxation?
For me, doing my artwork is definitely a form or relaxation and escapism. The pieces I have created to date are simply of places that I feel inspired by, enjoy looking at and feel the need to interpret and stylise somehow.
I see on the skatepark illustration you have added in your JIMC tag. Will you often sneak something personal in to your designs?
I appreciate and take inspiration from street art which I guess is where adding my signature / tag into my pictures has come from. I also think that in the modern internet world, when you publish your own artwork it’s important to include some kind of stamp of ownership.
It’s been great talking with you Jim and we all look forward to seeing what the future holds for JIMC Designs. Do you have any final words?
Umm yes please. Just to say thanks a lot for your interest in my work. I really am stoked whenever anybody says they’re into it. I’ll definitely keep you posted on any new bits that I do. If anyone else is interested in my cards, they can be purchased locally in Southsea’s Flo and Stan’s boutique.
Jim’s prints are available also from Gunwharf’s Aspex Gallery and also online at Arctic Space along other such artists as Shepard Fairey Obey, Tyler Stout, Evan Hecox and more. You can see more of Jims work and read his blog over at www.jimcdesigns.com. You can also follow him over on his Facebook HERE.