09 Feb In the Studio with Jamie Evans
Jamie Evans is a truly new exciting artist on the scene. Originally from and based in the North East of England, ‘Something Different, Something New’ will be Jamie’s inaugural exhibition at StolenSpace Gallery. We caught up with him in his studio ahead of his show to discuss his work and inspiration…
Can you start by telling us a little about how you became interested in graffiti?
I became interested in graffiti at an early age, eleven I think, through wandering around the small town I grew up in and stumbling across the walls of the train tunnels. There was nothing to do, certainly no galleries to visit, so you’d just wander and explore with friends to entertain yourself. I remember when I first laid my eyes upon the graffiti painted on the walls, vibrant and exciting colours. Complex and colourful structures which seemed like words but I couldn’t read most them at the time, it was a truly magical experience, I remember it vividly. I instantly went home and got a sketchpad and pencil and sat on the train lines, copying the pieces one by one. Just like you see children doing in the National Gallery from paintings. I would frequently return in hope that someone would have painted something new, and very occasionally someone would, until one day I asked my Mam to buy me spray paint so I could paint something myself. My Mam being the amazingly supportive person she is, agreed and took me to Pound Land and bought me a load of car paint. Black, white and grey primer. And now here I am today.
How do you define your work and style?
I often have difficulty describing my work to someone when they find out I am an artist. I describe it by saying that it lies somewhere between graffiti and fine art. My art practice is comprised of a graffiti aesthetic with fine art technique; I understand and concede that the two things are distinctly different with very different natures and characteristics, but to me they are both part the same thing. I define myself as an artist, not a graffiti artist, writer or street artist. Just ‘artist’. I have the aesthetics of a graffiti writer and the practical methods of a traditional painter. The colours I use, the overall approach I have to making work, it is very much rooted in a graffiti. But the methods I employ to make a painting are traditional, I make a lot of the paint I use from pigment by hand, I take the time to stretch, size and prime my own canvasses etc. It’s quite a time consuming process. The combination of the two things together is what makes my work unusual. The fantastic, bright colours so much associated with graffiti can be taken to new levels if one experiments with different paints and mediums and combines them. I define my work as a physical source of positive energy. I am actively trying to make objects which emanate positivity into our world when people look at them, colour to me is the best way to do this.
In what way do you translate the essence of graffiti to your work?
The essence of graffiti comes into my work overtly through the use of strong and bright colours, composition and brush marks which would suggest human movement, similar to that of a stylised letter. I often found letter form to be a huge barrier in my creativity, I love letter forms and hand styles, but for me the edges of the letter are confinements. The funky fills you see inside the letters of pieces is what interested me most. Another way the essence of graffiti is brought into my practice is in an idealogical and physical sense, the manner in which I conduct myself.. For example, if I were going to a noticeboard somewhere to put up a poster for an upcoming exhibition and there was no free space, I wouldn’t be looking for somewhere else to advertise. I’m either tearing down someone else’s to make space or putting mine straight over the top, dog eat dog. Doing things without needing permission. True graffiti takes place illegally. To do graffiti is to understand that there is truly no rules, whereas in the fine art world rules and regulations rule supreme. I think because of this, I have an advantage over others who have only a fine art mentality towards their practice.
What’s the message behind your work?
The message behind my work is one of positivity and hope. I attempt to demonstrate to others that we do not need to be mere spectators, that we can be fully fledged participants helping to shape the world we live in. As long as we truly have positive intentions for the world and people around us, we can decorate and arrange the environment we live in to how we see fit, I am not going to ask permission from a council if I can paint on a wall if it has been rotting for over a decade. I’ll just do it. With the walls that I paint outside, I am leading by example, showing that we can indeed make positive changes if only we take it upon ourselves to do so. No one has changed anything in a big way by being allowed to do it, it is too often the case that what needs done, is what you are not allowed to do. Overall, the message behind my work is one of positivity and empowerment to all.
Can you tell us about your creative process?
My creative process usually starts with yellow. Yellow is the colour which I most often start paintings with – usually cadmium yellow oil/spray paint, I am not particularly sure why. So far, there is never reference material for my work, the reference material all exists stored inside my mind. The process is about drawing out of my mind, schemes of colour and ideas of composition which come from my collection of memories, experiences and the overall daily experience of my existence. The paintings that I am most satisfied with often leave me baffled at how I came to make such a painting. It is very much a case of having a conversation with your own mind, I often just sit and look at a painting until I know what to do next. It always comes intuitively. I try my best to let the choices of colours and compositions come out without analysing or filtering them in any manner, like a young baby would naturally before it is taught by its parent. It is an incredibly difficult thing to do, to forget the pre-existing structures in our minds when trying to create something new and original. The physical environment we live in is one of constant bombardment of the senses, on all fronts. When I have gotten very vivid ideas in my head of what a painting should or shouldn’t look like, is when I enjoy painting the least. The creative process for me has no definite structure in terms of visual elements, but is always the same when it comes to the practical side. Stretching, sizing with rabbit skin glue, and then properly priming with gesso are all essential steps for me. I find it uncomfortable to work on an incorrectly prepared support, I’m always aware of the fact that it is incorrect. I like to work on linen which has been sized and primed properly, using a combination of oil paint and spray paints. Sometimes a painting can take months, and sometimes weeks. I have no definitive rules other than those I follow when making a new canvas.
What artists on the scene do you admire and are you inspired by?
I often struggle to find names to mention when people ask about who I currently admire and take inspiration from; I’m so focused on my own art practice I barely look at anyone else stuff other than when I am confronted with it in person. But on Instagram, someone who stands out to me quite a lot is the American painter Christian Rex Van Minnen, his work is so different to my own but the technical skill the guy has amazes me. I like the level of craft that he has achieved, and the immensely bright colours he uses in such a mature, realist way. I also remember seeing Tomokazu Matsuyama’s work for the first time at No Commission: London in 2016 and being blown away by how clean it was. Not one line or dot out of place. I appreciate all art forms but I’m very biased towards painting, so the vast majority of art which I admire and look at is painting. Be it inside or outside a gallery. I take inspiration sometimes too from a nice tag in the correct place, certain hand styles.. inspiration comes from all sorts of places for me.
What is the concept behind the pieces in your upcoming solo show ‘Something Different, Something New’?
The concept behind ‘Something Different, Something New’ is very much in the title. Whilst the visual content of my work isn’t straying too far from where it has consistently been, it is an entirely new body of work. The title refers heavily to the times in which we live. We must find something different, something new, in all regards. The frameworks which we live under are showing themselves to be hugely flawed; the world is ran by a system which cannot possibly hope to tackle and accommodate all the challenges we face as a species, and that makes no effort to do so. It was created in a time when the common man would never be part of such discussions, but technology has given us insight into the mechanisms which govern us and exposed them for what they are – simply the physical manifestations of the ideas of people who believed they were participants in shaping the world and not spectators sitting at the sidelines. The world does not need to be this way. I want people to think about the idea of what ‘something different, something new’ could mean for them individually. Yes, these are vast concepts to be attempting to take on and discussing in relation to an art exhibition, but the method in which I can get my message out to the world is though the platform I’m given when exhibiting. Art gives you a voice and an ability to change perspectives. I hope people come away from ‘Something Different, Something New’ considering to themselves what that could mean individually for them, and for us all collectively. The world is in dire need of a new vision.. we must find it.
Thank you very much Jamie! We are really looking forward to your show!!
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to register your interest or for more information on the show.
Opening Reception : Thursday 2nd March, 6 – 9pm
Exhibition Dates : Friday 3rd March – Sunday 2nd April 2017