Please welcome i2i Art’s newest illustrator, James Minchall! James brings with him a truly unique and conceptual style, utilizing silhouette-type characters, graphic elements and occasionally photo collage. Answering our many questions between assignments, James provided a bit of insight into what makes James, well...James.
Q: What first inspired you to become an illustrator?
A: It’s a hard one to pin down in a nice, poetic way. I've always leaned towards a creative route and made work on some level. I once painted my dad's van when I was super young. I'm still striving to be a edgy as I was back then. It's rad to be doing something I enjoy, where I’m constantly re-inspired and reminded of why I do it in the first place.
Q: Can you give us some insight into your creative process?
A: I note down key themes/ideas and highlight interesting copy that conjures up something visual and fun. I research further to make sure I’m on the right page. It's amazing how much you can learn and pick up! I’m pretty sure I can now rewire an iphone and rustle up some DIY homebrew. I often only sketch out the shell or concept of an idea in my thumbnails. Then once I’ve got my concept on screen I can start to move things, alter colours, add texture. I revel in this! Things start to come together and get super interesting!
Q: How would you describe your work?
A: I’ve always been a big fan of negative space, texture and imperfection. I use a handful of collage elements and stamp-like textures to create eccentric, shapely characters that these days reside somewhere within color and space. I try to bring a sense of energy and fun to sometimes mundane or dry subjects with a bold use of implication and narrative. I find that at least one character is surprised about something! Recently, I’m exploring bolder color palettes, fuller eclectic scenes and engaging textures to pack a bit of a punch. I'm still trying to figure out what I like!
Q: Can you explain how you arrived at your unique style?
A: I'm not too sure how I arrived anywhere! Throughout university I was exposed to so much information and new ways of doing things. I feel as though I've allowed myself to 'free up' since going full-time. It's this mindset that has developed the most working wonders in evolving my style, adapting to meet far quicker turnarounds with fresh and organic outcomes. Being less precise over things has left more room for creative ideas and 'my style'.
Q: Describe how you arrived at the use of silhouette-like characters in your work?
A: This is something that's taken many different trial and error approaches over time. I like the implication of what the 'faceless’ character's actions are, more than who’s doing it. You don't necessarily need a full-on deciphered face to convey emotion and hopefully I'm making a clearer point without it. A slightly infographic approach perhaps.
Q: What do you enjoy the most and what is the most challenging creatively about commissioned work?
A: I've always enjoyed having a brief to work on. Working with lots of different people, art directors and editors across publications you thought were miles off from you at one point. It's real humbling. One of my favorite things is finding that balance between 'clever' subtleties and relatable situations/concepts. Also having a job come through where the dimensions are zany and not your average square format, gets the juices flowing!
Sometimes you'll have a job that is actually fairly tricky to get your head around though, finance or tech for example can be a bit daunting at first glance. But once you've cracked it, it's a nice little rush. Again, it's great to read articles and lap up all this info that you probably wouldn't seek out yourself on a day to day basis.
James is a UK-based illustrator, with a First Class Degree in Illustration from the University of the West of England, living and working in Bristol.