first of all, tell us something about your upcoming work. What are you into at the moment?
I’m primarily an editorial illustrator, so I’m working on several magazine jobs at the moment. I’m also working on my new website which I’m going to populate with a bunch of work that’s taking a slightly different direction from my usual stuff. (I’ve attached an example of one of my newer pieces). I’m also concentrating heavily on my Fine Art stuff as I’m aiming to have an exhibition in the next year or so.
Tell us a little bit about yourself: where is home, and how long have you been an illustrator?
I’ve lived all over the place, but I’ve settled in a little village called Penkridge in Staffordshire. I’ve been an illustrator for 6 years and soon realised that I’m not one of these hip Londonite artists. Although I’m in London a lot for work, I prefer to come home and live amongst peace, quiet and trees.
Could you tell us some more about your illustration? How would you describe your style?
I’ve always struggled with this question. I find it hard to define my style, because it’s just the way I draw. I tried all the gimmicks and stylised things at University but I was crap at it and it always felt so contrived. My style started when I stopped pretending to be what I’m not and just draw the way I draw. Over the years, my work has just naturally evolved as I have, this is due to lots of practice. I love to mess around with lots of materials, and I include anything that I like in my work; anything from scribbles to marmite splatters.
Would you give a brief walk through your work flow?
A brief comes in or I get an idea I want to pursue.
I pace around for a day or two thinking the concept through and sketching until I break down into a stressed wreck and begin to cry.
I wipe the tears away and start to doubt whether I’m even good enough to be doing this for a living.
I then procrastinate for as long as possible until I’ve no other choice but to start work.
Once I start work, I get absolutely lost in it and can go for 16 hours straight and wonder what all the stress was about.
I finish and realise that I could of done so much better.
Then the process is repeated.
How many hours do you work on a typical day?
It varies depending on my workload. I try and do the 9-5 thing and have weekends off but if I’m really busy, it could be 18 hour days, 7 days a week, but as I’ve matured in this business, I now realise that if I’m quiet, it’s okay to take a couple of extra days off and to not be crippled with guilt. I love art that much though, that even when I’m not working on commercial stuff, I’m constantly sketching or painting in my spare time because it doesn’t feel like a job to me, it’s what I do for fun.
Tell us something you’ve always wanted to do, but have yet to.
Paint a huge graffiti mural. There aren’t a massive amount of people where I live though, so by process of elimination, it wouldn’t take long for me to get caught.
Something that annoys or frustrates you about people.
How blindsided folk can be to media and advertising spiel. I rarely get angry about things though, I just find it funny how blatantly obvious it is and how badly we are being sold our lifestyles. I’m also guilty of buying into certain things as it’s a western culture I was born into, but I try my best to be aware of it and have a sense of certainty that it was my choice and not some marketing team convincing me I need something to make my life better.
Something you wish you could change or alter about yourself.
I need to think before I speak (and draw). I can be quite opinionated about certain things and have lost jobs in the past because I’ve purposely provoked a reaction in my work. I just can’t help myself when I’m asked to do an illustration about natural face lift creams? Have they not seen my stuff?
Which commissioned work has given you the most satisfaction in producing?
My greatest satisfaction comes from my own work, as I’m not good with restrictions, but probably my favourite commissioned project was one I did for Marmite. I had to produce 26 illustrations and worked with a fantastic art director. I was given the freedom to do what I wanted and had loads of fun with it
What artists have influenced you, and how? Who or what inspires you in your personal life and work?
I try to stay away from ‘influences’ but I’m probably unconsciously influenced by others in little ways. Inspired by is a different story. There are too many to list. Conceptually, I’m intrigued by sociology and general observation of weird human behaviour. I read lots of varied stuff. I really like the urban/outsider (whatever it’s called) art scene. Artists like Antony Micallef, Ian Francis, Charming Baker, Conor Harrington, Paul Insect, Anthony LIster, etc. I’m also a big music fan, mainly grimy Blues music, with my favourites being Tom Waits, Captain Beefheart, The Black Keys, to name a few.
How has your work evolved over the years from when you where beginning?
Technically speaking, it’s a huge evolution. I recently got a new agent, so was going through all my archived work to sort out my portfolio for them. I was actually embarressed by some of the commissioned stuff I’d produced in the early days. Hopefully in another 6 years time, I’ll be embarressed by the work I’m producing now as at least it shows my efforts to always improve are working.
How could you describe that precise moment….The one it makes you say: “Yes! This is great! I did it! I got it!”
I’m an excitable person by nature, so when I have those moments when I think I’ve taken it up a level, I’m hell to live with as I’m running around like a giddy little child who has just swollowed a kilo of sugar. It only happens to me about once or twice a year, and it’s when I do something that I know will change all future work I do.
How have you handled the business side of your work?
I’ve had several agents in the past and the fact I’m not with them now suggests I’m happy to take control of the business stuff myself. I’ve got a great relationship with my current agent as we have an agreement in place that he just deals with advertising work for me. i handle everything else. I don’t think anybody can promote your work better than you but it’s where a lot of new artists fail. I know many incredible artists who have gotten nowhere because they are uneasy about the business side of it all. It’s not something I enjoy doing (apart from building relationships with clients) but it’s a necessity to make a career out of this.
Something you wish you had known five years ago.
This weeks lottery numbers.
What do you hope to accomplish in the next five years of your life?
I want to expand my output to various other areas. Painting, Animation, Print-Making, Sculpure, I want to dip my hand into it all. I’m known for being an illustrator but I want to start getting my other stuff out there.
Do you conduct workshops for aspiring illustrators?
I teach a little at Coventry University. It gets me out of the studio and talking to real people, which keeps me sane. I’m always happy to help out new illustrators, as long as they have made the effort to research what I do. I never reply to mass emails I get sent from people.
Before you put your work “out there”. Do you have it critiqued by someone else, or do you just go with what your heart tells you is right?
I sometimes show my girlfriend, but she is my harshest critique, so if I’m feeling sensitive, then I’ll just send work straight to clients and let them decide. I’ve learnt to take criticism on the chin though, it doesn’t effect me at all now, if a client request changes, I just get on with it and accept t’s all part of the collaborative process. 80% of the time, being open to feedback can improve the work, it’s just important to be aware that 20% of it is absolutely bollocks and will compromise the integrity of a piece, so stand up for what you feel strongly about.
Who’s the first illustrator/artist that comes to your mind in front of your next blank page?
It’s got to be all about me and the project at that stage.
Jay Taylor Website