Posted Oct 27th 2008 by

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An interview with
JEREMYVILLEwords by , October 2008

Jeremyville is one of the most prolific and well-known illustrators around. A firm believer in the value of collaboration, he’s always taking part in projects and group shows around the globe, whilst also doing a whole bunch of work for the world’s top brands. We managed to catch up with him during his recent visit to New York and talk to him about monk’s robes, acoustic sketchbooks and the draw of the Big Apple.

Hello and a warm welcome back to Thunder Chunky. How are things today?

Thanks Jon for the invitation, Jeremyville loves Thunder Chunky!

It’s a rainy autumn day in New York, I’m looking out the window towards Union Square, (and Andy Warhol’s old factory in the Decker Building on Union Square West, 6th floor, the place where he was shot) , I’m typing on my laptop, drinking a lovely latte from the local deli. I just came back from seeing some Jeff Koons. I’m going to the DUMBO Arts Festival tomorrow, in Brooklyn.

For those few people in the world who live with their eyes closed, how would you describe Jeremyville in 3 easy-to-follow steps?

1) Jeremyville is a project-based concept, with emphasis on collabs with brands I like, and artists I respect.

2) Primarily I’m an artist, I paint and draw, that’s the essence of almost all that I do.

3) I also love to produce things like products, books, toys and animation. I love applied art. I also love fine art.

So basically I choose to do projects that excite me and offer something fresh to the international art and design scene. A project can be anything really. I just need to be excited by it. I’m not limited to working in any one genre or medium. My training is a degree in architecture, not art or design school. Architecture is a good example of ‘applied art’. I also love interior design. My inspirations are Aalto, Mies, Eames, Corbusier, Wright.

Jeremyville desk

Jeremy likes to draw and paint!

You’re in New York at the moment… how does the Big Apple compare to Sydney?

Sydney is very cosmopolitan, cultural, creative, beautiful on the eye, clean, with a healthy lifestyle, and very internationally minded. There is also great authenticity in the many cultures that make up Sydney, so the world cuisines in Sydney are authentic and not homogeonised or westernised, and there is great tolerance and acceptance of every culture. I love Sydney completely. It just so happens to be at the other end of the world, which is difficult for quick travel to see clients etc. So I am often overseas, for projects, signings, art shows, just to meet and greet. By the way, Sydney and Melbourne have the best coffee culture on earth.

New York to me is my spiritual and creative home, I love the culture, historical context, and the feeling you’re at the nexus of everything. Also, a lot of people travel through New York, so I always hook up with people I’ve met only on email, for drinks or dinner, so there’s a great social interaction in New York, as opposed to how I work in Sydney, which is much more hermit-like, much more internet based. New York for me is more about getting out there to see people, see agencies, go to art shows, experience a new neighbourhood.

New York

Jeremy’s view of New York

Ever considered doing a show in Liverpool? ;)

Definitely, I just had a show in Brighton, and at the end of 2008 have a show coming up in Milan and a group show in Rome. I have a travelling installation concept of my prints, books, toys, sketchels and paintings, so it’s like a pop up Jeremyville concept.

During your stay in New York you’re launching a new Dunny and comic poster through Kidrobot. On a new job like that, what process do you go through to come up with new ideas and choose a direction to go in?

It helps to meet up with the Kidrobot team. I did that last trip, so we have a good working dialog going, that really helps. They are an absolute pleasure to work with, and are creative in their approach. It can be a long process, but the end result is worth it. I’m working on new projects with Kidrobot too. The signing is coming up (and gone now!) on October 2nd, at the SoHo store in New York. It’s the new improved store, over 2 floors, looks very cool.

nightmare in Jeremyville

Nightmare in Jeremyville – the new project for Kidrobot
Click here for the full comic

If you had to choose between launching a new vinyl toy, a new t-shirt or a new book which would you choose?

How about a book, toy and t-shirt package? I do have several ideas for some books I’m working on right now, I love the permanence and seriousness of a book, it’s also a lot more challenging than a t-shirt, and thus a lot more rewarding in the end.

You’ve contributed to Thunder Chunky projects in the past, and your book Jeremyville Sessions is all about the huge number of collaborative projects you’ve done over the years. What appeals to you so much about collaborating with other creative people?

I get lonely working on my own.

Jeremyville collabs

Contributions to “Sounds like another custom show” and the TC Print Project

Of all the projects you’ve worked on over the years, which are you most fond of, and why?

Anything that makes it to my ”shelf of achievements”, which is an imaginary shelf in the mind of my room, where all the cool projects go. There’s also a large empty shelf near it called “The shelf of things to still do” and that is a much more important and pressing shelf to fill.

Earlier this year you featured in a star-studded ad campaign for Converse, do you enjoy a bit of the limelight, or do you prefer to be the guy behind the sketchbook? And of the other stars of the campaign, who were you most proud to be lined up alongside?

I think I accidentally stumbled on to the set of the Converse shoot. It was cool to be alongside James Dean, Sid Vicious and MIA who were also used in the campaign. It was fun hanging out with them around the buffet table during the shoot. FYI the ghost of James Dean is Vegan, he didn’t eat much.

Converse adJeremy in a Converse ad with some famous friends

Who would you say have been the biggest influences on your career?

The new ideas in my mind, it gets me up in the morning, as I feel incredibly frustrated if I have an idea and it does not make it into the real world. I have many of them in my head right now, and most days I feel like I haven’t done anything at all. I love those monks who wear hair shirts under their robes, I love mental hair shirts. I might be wearing one now as I type this.

Converse trainers

A pair of Converse trainers being hand-painted

You do a lot of drawing and painting, what are the best art materials that you’d recommend to other illustrators who might be reading this?

I love a simple felt pen and a sketchbook. Also a biro and a pencil. I think Apple should bring out a range of actual pencils and pens, it would be like saying ‘get back to drawing everyone!’ How cool would that be? All these designers going out and buying lead pencils by Apple, and sketching again.

I like comparing design to music, just drawing in a sketchbook is like strumming on an acoustic guitar, you can play it by the fire with friends, and also draw by the fire with friends. Very spontaneous, immediate and visceral. Designing on a computer is like composing a tune in a digital recording studio with lots of buttons and controls, sitting at a desk drinking bad coffee at 2am. I prefer the former way of working, but I do sit at the computer when i need to. I think more designers should get back to sketching under a tree and thinking first with a pen on paper. The immediacy of that pleasurable process produces different and surprising results. It’s also more fun.

Sketchbook doodle

The power of the sketchbook!

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve bought recently?

A painting by Dale Frank, one of the best Australian fine artists, represented by the Roslyn Oxley 9 Gallery, a highly respected Gallery. Dale Frank was bought by the Guggenheim at the age of 18, and is represented in many major galleries. I have always wanted one of his works since I saw a show of his many years ago. This is the 200cm x 200 cm resin and varnish work I have in my collection:

Finally, what’s the one thing everybody should do today?

Everyone should stretch and breathe deeply.

During this interview we’ve only scratched the surface of the work that Jeremyville has output, so if you’d like to view more then you can check out the Jeremyville site, where you can also buy the Jeremyville Sessions book, which is a brilliant cross-section of all the collaborations over the years!


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