After taking a foundation course in art and design, James got a first in Illustration at the University of Lincoln. He became a graphic designer, taking illustration commissions on the side, and then took the plunge to become a full-time illustrator in 2011.
James starts his work in pencil, applying his colours digitally. He likes to maintain a handmade feel to his illustrations, and adds textures to what he’s drawn for further richness. His Mac helps him work to tight deadlines, while maintaining a high level of detail in each piece. His mural projects, meanwhile, are undertaken using paint pens and emulsion.
Patterns and detail are important elements in James’s style. His line work has a slightly naïve feel to it and, working digitally, he adds depth to images by including extra elements, even if they’re small and subtle.
His collection of books about fossils, birds and plants feeds his interest in patterns and textures.
Question: What drew you to illustration/design? James: I am a creative person, love drawing and solving problems. Seeing ideas come together and fulfilling a brief is really satisfying. Question: Do you have any formal design training? James: I studied illustration at the University of Lincoln. Question: Where are you originally from? James: I was born in Gloucester, but grew up in the small town near Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire. Question: Where do you live now & what drew you there? James: Exeter. It is a beautiful and lively city - I'm still getting used to the novelty of being fifteen minutes from the beach. Question: Where is your studio and can you describe it for me? James: I divide my time between my home studio and a co-working space in Exeter city centre. There are lots of other creative types and crucially a table tennis table for breaks. Question: Who or What is your biggest inspiration? James: I used to spend hours with my Grandma having fun learning to draw – she had a great sense of humour. I still find now that the best work happens when you're enjoying yourself.
Question: How do you get your ideas? James: Usually once I start drawing, the ideas start flowing and one drawing informs the next. It all has a basis in observing the world around me though. Question: Do you keep a scrapbook? James: I have sketchbooks, which help with developing ideas and approaches. Question: Tell us about a favourite project you've recently completed. James: I created three giant parts to a map of Ipswich for the local Zizzi restaurant – each section was around two metres square and held up by pulleys and a dock crane which I also drew. Question: What would be your dream job/commission? James: Bloomsbury would suddenly decide that they want me to redesign all the Harry Potter books for them, including a new trilogy about the life of Dumbledore. Question: If you were not an illustrator, what would you be? James: An architect, or possibly a writer of bad cracker jokes. Question: What advice would you give to someone wanting to get into illustration? James: To succeed you need to truly believe in what you are doing and understand it is a business, not a privilege to draw for a living. Question: If you could take a holiday leaving tomorrow, where would you go & what would you do? James: I would catch up with my friends, play some music, surf a bit and laugh a lot.
Zizzi Ristorante, Kopparberg, Bloomsbury, The Pharmaceutical Journal, The Psychologist, Penguin India, Exeter Living, Hoburne Holiday Parks, Abu Dhabi AirportsFavourites
: Boston Tea Party
, Queen Street, Exeter
: Melt-in-the-middle chocolate pudding!
: A good cup of tea
: No Guts, No Glory
, Fore Street, Exeter
: Design Inspiration
: Computer Arts
: North Cornwall – the bays surrounding Padstow