Posted Jul 14th 2008 by

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An interview with
JAMES JARVISwords by , July 2008

You’ll probably know James Jarvis from his exploits as a top runner at the Zurich Marathon, but for his day job he also dabbles in a little bit of illustration. In fact, James Jarvis is probably one of the most iconic and influential illustrators of the last 10 years and was one of the leading figures in the vinyl toy explosion. His work for Silas and the company he joint set up, Amos, has seen his weird and wacky creations make their way around the globe. He was kind enough to spend a few minutes answering our questions.

Hello and welcome to Thunder Chunky. How are you today?

Not too bad, thanks. I’m working from home today and wondering whether I’ll get time to go to the track to do my interval training.

Tell us about yourself in 3 easy-to-follow steps.

I like drawing. I like running. I like eating.

It’s 2008 now. What were some of your highlights of last year?

Running 2:35:34 at the Zurich Marathon. Drawing in Beijing.

James Jarvis in Beijing

Drawing in Beijing
Thanks to Hypebeast for the pics!

Many people will have first come across your work through your hugely successful vinyl characters. 2008 will mark a decade since the release of Martin, the first of your 3d creations. Will there be anything to mark the occasion?

We’ve got some really exciting things planned, which I can’t be specific about yet, I’m afraid.

Do you have any favourites amongst your In-Crowd family?

I really like Mongo. I am also pleased with Wolfo’s hair. Looking back on past work I tend to focus on the faults and it takes a while for me to be able to embrace them.

James Jarvis Toys

Left-right: Martin, Mongo and Wolfo

King Ken gets around quite a lot… a couple of years ago I spotted him on the coffee table of the Soccer A.M. set. What are some of the most surprising places you’ve seen your characters?

I’ve never really been surprised. The toys have a life of their own once they leave the shop, so it seems natural for them to end up in all sorts of places.

James Jarvis - King Ken

King Ken

You’ve mentioned in previous interviews that big inspirations to you were things such as Tintin, Rupert the Bear and Richard Scarry. What do you think it was about the style of these that particularly appealed to you?

It is nor so much the visual style as the sensibilities inherent in their work – very complete and detailed graphic realities. I’ve spent so much time obsessing over drawing that I am hyper-aware of the particular marks and drawing quirks that a particular artist uses, and what I really like and admire is the structure behind the marks.

You describe the core of your work as being drawing. What equipment would you recommend to budding illustrators out there? Do have particular favourite pencils and paper?

I don’t think it really matters, but I really only draw in pen and ink. I find pencil too tentative a medium. I like the absoluteness of pure black and white marks.

James Jarvis - Drawings

Selected drawings

Are the any new projects in the pipeline for 2008?

We’ve already got two really cool new figures in production.

What’s the coolest thing you’ve bought recently?

Moomin: The Complete Tove Jansson Comic Strip by Tove Jansson

If the In-Crowd starred in their own movie, what would be on the soundtrack?

All sorts… the thing about the In-Crowd is that they represent all kinds of branches of Pop Culture, so one could never choose one genre of music for them. I would be particular about exactly which artists you would choose – Slayer not Metallica, for example.

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

Try to behave in a responsible manner.

You can enter the world of James Jarvis by going to his Studio site. You can also see pretty much the whole back-catalogue of Amos toys and products over at the Amos site.


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