– What’s your favourite Simpsons episode?
I don’t know if I can pick. I’ve become an even bigger purist as time goes by.
I really, really like the early seasons. There’s so many tear-jerker moments. They’re just so solid, and work like short films, where you don’t need any prior knowledge of the show. They’re just a good natured family trying to do their best and struggling with moral dilemmas. I guess now I have a little family, those early seasons really mean a lot to me, especially since they remind me of my own childhood too.
– Can you share your thoughs on the AI vs human artist debate? Are you afraid of robots?
I’m not afraid of robots themselves. I’ve fought tooth and nail for everything in my career, and that’s part of the human spirit, you adapt, overcome, survive and learn. I’m concerned by some of the people that seem to revel in taking away opportunities for artists when it’s already a very exploitative field.
Dead or Alive – You’re Coming With Me
Personally, my work has changed so much over the years, and in some very unpredictable ways. Inspiration can come from unexpected places, and our struggles, knockbacks and triumphs make us what we are. I could have given up multiple times, but every time I doubled down and tried my best to pursue art, my art got a lot better.
Art is a culmination of our being. We grow, we learn how to express ourselves and how to put our thoughts and feelings to pen and paper, brush to canvas, etc. It doesn’t have to be the most refined thing, but it’s human, and that’s what’s so special about art.
I just find it odd that some people want to automate our expression.
We learn through doing, we get stronger through practice and training. It’s something that has helped to ground me and give me strength.
Dead or Alive – You’re Coming With Me
Maybe it will make me go back to more traditional art and paint more.
I haven’t seen anything inspired come out of it, so I haven’t been losing any sleep over it.
It doesn’t have to be the most refined thing, but it’s human, and that’s what’s so special about art.
Dreamland Falls – Disenchantment (Netflix)
– I know you recently(ish) welcomed your first child into the world – congrats! How has parenthood affected your artist journey?
Thanks! We come up with funny names for toys and characters, so I’ve been keeping a notebook for possible ideas. I want to make more art that Rosie would like and enjoy. Whimsical stuff full of cats and dinosaurs.
It’s definitely meant that I have no free time. Everything is micro-managed. Especially working from home.
– Since were on the topic of family – your partner is an artist, too. Is she your biggest fan / harshest critic / both? Do you two ever collaborate?
Yes! Donya is such a huge help and inspiration. She’s the voice I need to hear when I doubt myself, and she helps weigh in when I have difficult clients or job offers.
We collaborated on an old clothing line called chubbytown, and we used to sell our comics at conventions together. I’d love to hold an exhibition with her. Sometimes we’ve drawn and painted together on some pieces, and I would like to do more of that going forward. I think there are aspects of each of our work that bleeds into the other.
Heroines and Villainesses
– Whats a piece of advice you would offer someone interested in getting into comic writing/illustration (asking for a friend)?
For comics, comics is such a vast medium. It’s still in its infancy, and I think has boundless potential. It’s words and pictures. If you have a style of writing, or a way of drawing, lean into your strengths. There’s types of comics I could never do myself, but just experimenting and making personal work and just writing little things down has helped me to find my voice. I will often write down little phrases and then pair that with an image, and then that starts to take root as a comic idea.
Heroines and Villainesses
For Illustration, look at the work you admire, and what you grew up with, and try to identify what you would like to do as an image maker. Personally for me, I don’t think the “industry” is in a very good place. Do what YOU want to do. Create what YOU want. If you wait around for a publisher if you have an idiosyncratic style, you could lose faith and give up. Just have fun doing what you do, and you’ll find your voice. Have fun before you really jump into something.
Personally for me, I don’t think I could do anything that wasn’t explicitly my own world, and that may mean I find it harder to get published, but at least it doesn’t feel like agonising work.
– Have you ever thought about getting a beagle and calling it Jack? We all think thats a good idea.
Haha, that was one of my many nicknames in primary school! I do like dogs, but my family has always been a cat family.
– What are you working on right now?
It’s been a crazy year, and I can’t say the biggest thing. I’m tied down by a non disclosure agreement, but in my free time, I’m trying to put together some comic anthologies to self publish, and I’m back making a lot more personal work, after being tied up with client work for almost three years!
– Any big plans for the upcoming new year? Any projects or personal goals you would like to share?
I have a solo exhibition at the Art House Sheffield in early January running from 12/01/2023 – 14/02/2023. It’s going to be a retrospective, showing a little bit of everything I’ve ever made. Paintings, drawings, screen prints, archival prints. The majority of the work will be from 2016 onwards, when I felt like I started to make large scale, detailed drawings.
I’m also hoping to start filming my sketchbooks and putting the videos online. I want to try to help people see how I work a little more, as there have been times when I’ve struggled with process and how to do things. I would like some free time, and to just have a bit of a break. Sometimes it feels like my personal work is getting away from me, and I’ll pulled back into another big project. I just want to do a bit of handywork at home and take it easy. Have fun painting for myself, try some woodwork, etc.
– Anything else you would like to share with our kind readers?
We live in some really confusing and frustrating times, but try not to let it get you down. You have to do what you can to get by, and that’s ok.
Try to switch off from the constant digital noise, because it can be paralysing. If you can, go for a walk, read a book. Don’t get sucked in by the screaming vortex.
Thanks, Jack! We appreciate you taking the time to answer our questions.