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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

An interview with Jack Bailey: Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion featured artist.

Lincoln University graduate Jack Bailey creates busy landscapes full of intriguing characters in motion.

Written by Amelia Gregory

JACK BAILEY illustration
Jack Bailey was one of the fantastic new illustrators I discovered at this year’s New Designers graduate show who answered my callout to take part in the colouring book open brief. His energetic art is created on a large scale then turned into fantastically busy pictures like his colouring book page, inspired by the game of Ultimate Frisbee.

JACK BAILEY illustration
Where do you find inspiration for your characters?
The inspiration for my characters comes from a mix of sketching outdoors and making loose marks on a large sheet of paper. When I apply the loose marks to a piece of paper I relate back to my original outdoor sketches and start to interpret the mark as the shape of a body or a facial expression. The characters barely resemble the original sketches however I find studying from life allows me to interpret the marks made in a variation of forms. Previous to this brief my characters where always produced in colour, so it was fun to experiment in black and white for the colouring page and this is something I have continued doing.

JACK BAILEY illustration
Can you tell us more about what is going on in your artwork for my colouring book? who are all those people?
The piece for the colouring book was inspired by an article I read in the New Yorker about the chances of Ultimate Frisbee becoming an Olympic sport. Immediately, due to the word ‘ultimate’, I imagined a huge, chaotic game of Frisbee where only those playing understood what was going on. Almost like looking at a London underground map for the first time. The characters in the image are the people playing the sport and I packed the image full of people to show its rise in popularity. Unfortunately not many people play Frisbee in Liverpool so I picked up on the dynamic poses through watching youtube videos, which also contributed to the hectic feel of the image.

JACK BAILEY illustration
What led you to study at the Lincoln University and what was the best bit about your course?
In all honesty studying at Lincoln was totally by chance as I was still unsure if I was going to go to university at the time. I attended a university fair in Manchester where I picked up information packs and Lincoln University was one of them. When I got to Lincoln for the interview however I knew it was the place for me. It was quiet enough for me to be able to get on with my work and the old architecture of the city really appealed to me. As well as this everywhere was in walking distance and so really accessible. I guess you could say it was destiny! The best bit of the course for me was having tutors from a variety of backgrounds. It really enhanced a brief when you knew a tutor was passionate about the subject and had experience in the field. Another aspect of the course I enjoyed was the encouragement to try different media and new ways of working. Before the course I believed a single image had to be produced using the same mediums and on a single surface. Now I’ll use a whole bunch of mediums on separate surfaces allowing me to be a lot more expressive and confident in the way I work.

JACK BAILEY illustration
JACK BAILEY illustration
How do you translate your ideas between 2D and 3D artworks?
It works in a similar way to how I translate a sketch from life into one of my characters, in that they often don’t appear anything like the original influence. Between the 2-D and 3-D image they will often only share similar characteristics such as the amount of legs, hair style and facial features. Working in paper mache means capturing a dynamic pose is often difficult. This is why I use string to decorate the creatures. I feel the shape and swirl helps add movement to a static creature.

JACK BAILEY illustration
What is the process of creating your 3D pieces?
To create my 3-D pieces I start with a single sheet of paper, often from an old book as I like the stained colour of the pages. I dip this into a wallpaper paste and begin moulding it into any shape that feels natural. Similar to when I create my characters I try not to think too much about the early steps of the process and make shapes with papier mache whilst not thinking of the end product. This is so I don’t miss out on a nice, natural shape for the character. Once I have combined a few sheets of paper I use this as the body, from here I will refer back to my 2-D character and begin creating a head and other features. I finish by adding a face and decorating it with string and found objects.

JACK BAILEY illustration
JACK BAILEY illustration
Why do you find it easier to work on a large scale?
Working on a large scale is easier for me as I find it enhances my creativity. I find the characters look a lot more natural on large sheets due to me not being worried about them running off the page. The marks I make on large sheets are more expressive and full of energy as it is my whole arm moving the brush, not just my wrist. I also find working on a large scale creates new ideas. The sheets become a visual mind map. If I need a tree for an image, on a small scale I will produce one whereas on a larger scale I will produce as many as I can to fill the length of the sheet. This then becomes a new image for me to play around with.

JACK BAILEY illustration
What is it about drawing buildings that appeals to you?
Mainly that they don’t walk off as I try to draw them! What I enjoy to study on a building is the smaller details, often found towards the tops of buildings. I find the top of buildings to have the most character. There are unusual patterns and decorations, small windows and chimneys. You can interpret these as faces, creating relationships between two buildings or as body parts and the buildings can become giants peeping over trees.

JACK BAILEY illustration
How has living in Liverpool influences your approach?
I think the diversity of Liverpool has influenced my illustrations. The city centre is a collection of classic and modern architecture, renovated buildings and desolate warehouses. I also think it encourages creativity here too, with a variety of contemporary and classical art galleries there are always avenues to explore for inspiration.

JACK BAILEY illustration
JACK BAILEY illustration
Why is your new project with Cygnet Ink inspired by Quentin Blake? what is it you love about his work?
What I love about Quentin Blake’s artwork is the energy and looseness of the characters. Each line contributes to the personality of the character and he includes just enough information in each image to depict a scene. His characters also have a nice balance about them too, the positions are believable and you almost move with the character as you look at it. Blake’s backgrounds are a huge influence to me as he approaches them so cleverly. They depict real environments, but he will leave sections out or use a splash of watercolour to describe an area so the characters are the centre of attention.

JACK BAILEY illustration
You can find Jack Bailey‘s lively art in Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion, available soon from Kickstarter, and the ideal present for that special person this Christmas!

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