Posted Aug 27th 2005 by

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An interview with
JAMIE WIECKwords by , August 2005

Touted as the pick of “tomorrow’s art talent”, Jamie Wieck is fast making a name for himself as an illustrator who isn’t afraid to break away from the norm. He has a healthy collection of exhibitions and awards and he hasn’t even finished university yet. Without further ado, we proudly present Mr Jamie Wieck…

Hello and welcome to the world of Thunder Chunky! How’s everything going today?

You know that feeling when you first get off a rollercoaster? Well that’s pretty much how I’m feeling right now – legs all over the place and ice-cream down my top! At least I’m hoping that’s ice-cream – I’ve just realised my cat’s looking awfully queasy today…

Mind you, she’s not the only one who’s looking a bit green. You’ve caught me very much in the aftermath of what can only be described as a culmination of several weeks worth of furious arm flailing. It wasn’t quite a rollercoaster, but working with Nike certainly comes close!

Last night I was lucky enough to check out the fruits of my arm flailing at the opening of the Nike iD Design Lab – a bespoke trainer boutique set in an anonymous (but very swanky) townhouse behind Oxford Street.

Nike iD Design Lab

“Ladies Ladies Ladies”
The Nike Project

I had been asked to create some artwork for the store (a very deep piece that expressed the turmoil of deciding between ‘Grey’, ‘Medium Grey’ and ‘Granite’), and so put my ass and the Nike checkbook on the line by ordering some pretty ostentatious framing. Thankfully, when I arrived it was all smiles and manly pats on the back – they even let me customise a pair of trainers, so I must have done something right!

Unfortunately this came to pass as my (already) tenuous grip on reality had started to slip, and so with several glasses of suspicious looking liquid inside me I can’t help but feel I’ve single handedly pushed back the development of the trainer a good ten years…nuts.

So tell us a bit about yourself and what you do.

Thunder Chunky! This sounds suspiciously like a speed date. I haven’t been to one yet, but I think it’s really just a matter of time (especially in London) – so this could be vital practice…

Well, with that embarrassing emission it’s clear that I’m single, and single for a good reason – although I could quite possibly be socially retarded, but I’ll do my best for all the Thunder Chunky ladies out there to convince them I’m quite the modern man for the modern age! Feel free to insert an audible ‘ping’ over my glittering smile there.

My bachelordom (and an increasingly growing crowd of beleaguered friends and ex-girlfriends) is the result of attempting to live the life of a one-man-band creative studio. Stopping short of sellotaping a set of paintbrushes to my feet, I’ve developed an evolutionary backward state of continual pyjama wearing, allowing me to work in as many disciplines as possible – from album covers and advertising to portraiture.

You’ve managed to build up quite an impressive collection of exhibitions and awards yet you’re still at University. Most people don’t get out of bed until they leave University – what gives you your inspiration?

Thunder and Dust

“Thunder and Dust”

I think the Python’s got it right with the Spanish Inquisition – fear and surprise (or was that fear and surprise and ruthless efficiency – damn, that’s three!) I’m a realist concerning matters of ambition – so I’m painfully aware of the amount of incredible talent out there, and the fact I’m just another face in the art school crowd.

With this somewhat cliched but painfully true mantra doggedly following me about, I realise that all I have is my work. Thankfully for now I’m still able to work within the college system – but I want to push myself as far as I can in this confine with an eye to hit the ground running when the door of education finally closes behind me.

Perversely a lot of my drive is based on my interpretation of success. I would love to succeed – but I can’t really decide what ‘to succeed’ is, as it tends to flip-flop from one thing to another – leaving me with a very frightening, but at the same time, strangely comforting notion that I will never be able to put my feet up because I won’t know when I’d be happy enough to do so.

You’re doing a graphic design course as well aren’t you? What made you go for a graphic design course rather than an illustration course? Do you see a clear definition between the two?

I decided to pursue a graphic design course because I love problem solving, but I think the boundaries between graphic design and illustration are starting to blur anyway. The way technology and especially the Internet has democratised the approach to these disciplines has led to some wonderfully unexpected deviations from the norm – so much so I’m starting to see advertising, design, illustration and art as one of the same, simply situated on varying positions on the same creative scale.

How’s the Flamingo State book going? Tell us a bit about some of the characters inside it.

Rodeo

“Rodeo” from Goodbye Flamingo State

‘Goodbye Flamingo State’ was an itch of an idea that just refused to go away, so a few months ago I decided to scratch it – and boy am I now paying the price! I think the project can only be described as a Helmut Newton photo-shoot gone terribly wrong!

Set within the dusty city limits of Flamingo State’s last diner, the book covers 24 hours of grumpy meerkats, chain smoking flamingos and many a breakdancing hippo. Since it’s a picture book I’ve taken inspiration from great narrative photographers like Elliott Erwitt and worked hard to create stories from the numerous static compositions. I wanted this work to be slightly different from the Flamingo State work that preceded it – whether this was because it was the State’s first ‘big screen outing’ I don’t know – but I’ve been trying to toe the line between keeping it graceful without letting it get too pretentious. Overall it’s shaping up pretty well, even if I have a long way to go – think what would happen if Mario Testino collided head on with a posse of eccentric soft toys – this is the mess I’m trying to make some sense from!

You claim your work promotes irrelevance. It seems to work. What’s so good about irrelevance?

The Alteregos of Isle 46

The Alteregos of Isle 46

For me the most important pillars that underlie everything I do are the themes of humor, irrelevance and irreverence!

Modern art, along with most design, not only takes itself too seriously, but it seems to have lost its passion – its awareness of its possibilities! As I increasingly find young contemporary artists splattered over the society pages, I can’t help but wonder whether the cult of celebrity has become one of the driving forces that now push not only modern art, but the direction of all the visual arts. Consequently I fear the lust for recognition this breeds is leading to a lazy attitude – everything is becoming a means to an end: empty posturing with unnecessarily dark work to achieve recognition in the shortest amount of time – with the least amount of effort.

In the shadow of this beastly loop of professional back-scratching resides my work, which has been cited by some of the people in the aforementioned establishment as everything from ‘pointless’ to ?¢-‘vapid’ – well they are right, it is! There’s not meant to be any profound meaning there – my drawings and posters are really a glorified hobby, I just love to draw, I always have – and if people like the work then that’s a fantastic bonus! I know essentially I sound like an angry man – but that’s really my engine talking, it’s the part of me that pushes to get these positive (and subsequently irrelevant) images out there; that remembers my Foundation year and the terrible angst that’s cultivated in that environment. I want to bring a sense of humour back into the visual domain, I like to make people laugh – and if I can do this then I have at least in some small way redressed the balance of this artistic gloom!

What’s the best daytime TV program at the moment?

I want to love Diagnosis Murder. I really do! But there’s just something about Dick Van Dyke that I cannot trust! Every time I watch I’m convinced he’s about to break into a song and dance about their latest criminal investigation, and prance around the hospital corridors with an awful cockney accent!

In spite of this, and at risk of angering the high priestess of the daytime TV (I’m so sorry Nigella, please forgive me!) I would have to say I’m very much in the congregation of everyone’s favorite Catholic detective – Father Frank Dowling! Jessica Fletcher – there is only one fish-out-of-water detective series for me, and that’s The Father Dowling Mysteries! Tom Bosley. As a priest. And a badass nun with a boy’s name. Class.

What influences have there been on your style of illustration?

I consider myself very lucky to have parents with excellent taste! As a kid they introduced me to the works of Richard Scarry and Herge, two illustrators that have had a profound effect on my work – not just because of the draughtsmanship they represent – but their attitude.

I find that amongst the aesthetic influences, I’m drawn to people with a good attitude to life – especially to the little quirks and eccentricities that punctuate our daily routines. In my opinion Richard Scarry, as well as Wes Anderson, both have such a fantastic eye for translating these qualities to page and screen. Everything they’ve produced seems to vibrate with a visual energy and detail that I can only hope to capture in my own work.

What would be on a Flamingo State soundtrack?

Blood and smoke

“Blood Smoke” for the
Goodbye Flamingo State book

I absolutely love disco and classic pop music, so much so you can often find me hassling (and more often) bribing the DJ to stick some Sister Sledge on in-between his German-techno-breakdown!

Interestingly Flamingo State was born from many a hot night listening to ‘All Summer Long’ by the Beach Boys. To me this track represents everything I believe in and makes me believe it’s possible to literally draw the perfect pop song – a sugary rhythm of imagery and colour that can make people smile! I’m sure it can be done – after all, music is just an arrangement of notes, while drawings are the product of their lines – all these building blocks need is some inspiration and a lot of patience!

Any plans for the summer?

Apart from re-growing the hairs on my right arm (which I unfortunately chewed off during a particularly tight deadline) I think I’m going to run away to the coast for a decent holiday – it’s been a long time coming!

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

Wow, such a powerful position to be in – I don’t want to screw up and accidentally instruct a hoard of people to chase a traffic warden or something. To be honest if you made it this far, you deserve an award, so I’m not going to suggest you visit my website (www.jamiewieck.com) and send me an email because everyone suggests something like that! Instead stick your favorite guilty pleasure on your stereo – you know the type – think wedding reception, and dance like you’ve got excited weasel down your jumper! May I suggest the Dexy’s Midnight Runners classic ‘Come on Eileen’, or for you smooth types out there – anything by Abba…you know it makes sense.

If you’d like to see more of Jamie’s work and updates on what he’s up to then you should visit www.jamiewieck.com

POSTED BY Jon

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