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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Gulliver’s New Travels by James Gulliver Hancock: Colouring Book Review, Interview and Giveaway

Illustration impresario James Gulliver Hancock tells us more about his new colouring book Gulliver's New Travels, inspired by a mix of real life and fantasy. Love this book! Plus you would win your own copy! read on...

Written by Amelia Gregory

JAMES GULLIVER HANCOCK GIVEAWAY BLOG
James Gulliver Hancock has produced the most wonderful colouring adventure inspired by his namesake. Gulliver’s New Travels: Colouring in a New World is a glorious book filled with images inspired by a mix of reality and fantasy… dive in and let your imagination run wild! I’m giving away FIVE COPIES of this book, so make sure you hop on over to my Facebook Page HERE and leave a comment saying what you like best about this book to be in with a chance to win… better still, the giveaway is OPEN WORLDWIDE!

James Gulliver Hancock colouring book review cover
James Gulliver Hancock colouring book review portrait
I believe you kept one of the very first drawings you ever made in kindergarten, a super complex cityscape. Where is it now and would we recognise it as your work now?
I did indeed, unfortunately I can’t actually find it at the moment, it’s buried deep in my mother’s attic somewhere. I do however vividly remember what it looked like. It was so important as when I drew it I was basically drawing to avoid doing any of the other tasks at school – a cunning plan which has basically been the case for the rest of my life. So yes I’d recognise the drawing, but style wise I feel like children’s drawing can be quite similar. I’m a massive fan of children’s drawings and ‘outsider art’ or ‘folk art’. I do a project with my brother: tomandjamesdraw.com, where we draw together and he teaches me a lot about relaxing and going back to that early stage of drawing without thinking, stepping away from representation and communication and into something super personal.

James Gulliver Hancock colouring book review coloured by Amelia Impey
Gulliver’s New Travels coloured by Amelia Impey.

Did your name have any bearing on your decision to make your new colouring book? (do you have a special affinity with the tale?!)
I have a long running affinity with the name Gulliver. It was given to me by my father, and I’ve always felt a connection to the fantastical travels that Gulliver goes on, how he perceives the world around him in such an interesting way and has such a wonder filled journey. The publisher and I brainstormed this concept of ribbing of Swift’s original and I loved the idea, especially as I was travelling for most of the creation of the books illustrations.

James Gulliver Hancock Gullivers New Travels
You are widely travelled – where and when and why have you been happiest on your travels?
I have specific memories, like sitting along on a grassy patch on the side of a swiss mountain with the most amazing salami in my picnic, and also then returning to that spot with my wife and being magically followed all day by a herd of goats and jumping around the rocks with the young ones. I think I became infatuated with travel from a young age, the feeling of being on the road, that is such a cliché, is so powerfull, so romantic, so thrilling. I remember being happy arriving in towns not knowing anything, not knowing my way around, or where to stay or what to eat, it is extremely liberating and the furthest possible position from day to day repetitive lifestyles.

James Gulliver Hancock colouring book review London
Being stuck on a sinking boat does not sound like much fun. Can you tell us more about that adventure and whether you did manage to save your sketchbook?
Well it wasn’t actually sinking. I was 1⁄2 way through my overland journey from Sydney, Australia to London, England. I was crossing from Japan to Russia, and we were hit by a typhoon. Having just come from the meek and wonderful people of Japan I was already struggling with the burly Russians aboard the boat, but when the storm hit I was on the floor reeling with all the anxieties of the trip. The ships nurse gave me a sedative and all I remember was the army official coming into the room to tighten the window with a huge wrench and then dreaming of an archipelago. I also remember not being that worried about the sinking of the ship, that it would all work out and the freedom of travel had liberated me from the fear of losing anything important. The only think I felt nervous about was my sketchbook and remember devising plans in my delirium to keep it safe.

James Gulliver Hancock colouring book review coloured by Susannah Coleman
Gulliver’s New Travels coloured by Susannah Coleman

What kind of artist residencies have you taken part in in Europe and what was your favourite? And why?
My first European residency was in Vienna. They have a large apartment building which is mostly unused during the winter so I was lucky enough to get an apartment in the centre of the city with a small studio. After this one I also took a residency at the Cite Des Arts in Paris. Both were amazing experiences. I think for a young artist it was transformative to be recognised for my work internationally and be encouraged to come to a new place and make work. It perfectly fit into my dream of making work and travelling. These two residencies where different experiences, in Vienna I was totally left to my own devices, and in Paris I was too a bit, but it is such an established artsit hub in Paris, of all disciplines, so I was waking up to opera scales being sung, and hanging out in other artists studios.

James Gulliver Hancock Gullivers New Travels
Can you tell us more about your epic journey from Australia to the UK?
It was indeed epic, I was working in a design company, and hating it, so one day I drew a line from Sydney to London and started to work out how I could do it without taking any flights. Also having gone back and forth from the UK to Australia with my family, I really wanted to feel what it was like to actually travel that distance on the ground. It was a funny sensation to go to the train station in Sydney and realise I was wanting to get to the UK from there, it was very romantic. So yes, I rode the train all the way up to the top of australia through the desert. No here’s the only hitch, I was going mad in Darwin, it was so hot and humid I think I was loosing my mind, so I did book a flight, just over to Singapore. Funnily enough I felt guilty I missed Indonesia and came back there later in life to fill in the gap. I tried really hard to get a boat over to Asia, but it just didn’t come together. From there on I went up through South East Asia, all the way into China, caught a boat to Japan, another boat over to russia, then all the way over Russia on the trans siberian, then through Scandanavia and down through the heart of Europe and into the channel tunnel to London. All in all I think it took around 6 months, and it was probably one of the most formative things I did in my early career. I kept a diary and sketchbook the whole time and a lot of work still draws from those experiences, including this recent colouring book.

James Gulliver Hancock colouring book review landscape
And how have your travels influenced your work?
When you travel there are so many little moments and experiences that you collect and remember. I find these always make it into my work, whether it’s a vague sense of the hustle and bustle of a particular town, or a specific type of car or building that I fell in love with drawing. When I travel I’m always collecting the things around me in my sketchbook, drawing the objects and experiences obsessively. I find this really helps me look, and remember them. Even if I’m just drawing the glass of water next to my bed in Vietnam, that drawing usually promts a whole flood of memories when I revisit it later. Drawing and travel is amazing like that. I think it’s much more powerful than a photo.

James Gulliver Hancock colouring book review coloured by Amy Poole
Gulliver’s New Travels coloured by Amy Poole

Which of your own stories have fed into the original tale of Gulliver and how have you married the two?
Well there is the obvious reference of playing with scale. Throughout the book you’ll see big hands and feet aswell as little people navigating the world around them. And I think this is a great representation of travel, that constantly shifting feeling of the overwhelming nature of the surroundings coupled with the feeling of confidence. There are also references to specific Gulliver’s Travel tales such as the little boat being pushed which I might have referenced as I delved into the sinking typhoon boat story. But there are also just stories relevant to me, such as the little man riding the airport luggage cart, which my 4 year old loves to do.

James Gulliver Hancock colouring book review studio
How long did it take you to create this book and what was your favourite part of the process?
I was lucky enough to be travelling as I made this book, so it really felt genuine that I was keeping a log of the expriences around me, and marrying them with Gulliver’s Travels and my previous travels made it feel super relevant and important to me. I love all the aspects of working, generating the ideas, pulling them together, and drawing the final art. It was great to have a project like this that required so much detail and time so I could sit and almost meditate while I drew. The colouring in phenomena has been coupled with a ‘mindfulness’ attitude which I think is great, as it is an experience I have when I’m drawing and working in general, so I’m excited my audience will get to maybe experience that sensation too.

James Gulliver Hancock colouring book review city
What kind of media did you use to create the lines and what scale did you work at?
I keep it very simple, regular paper, regular pencils. Once I’m done I scan it in and all I do is clean it up a little bit. Nothing too fancy.

Have you seen many coloured versions of the pages yet? And if so where?
I haven’t! I really would love people to post their interpretations of my drawings, maybe instagram? Tag me, I’m @gulliverhancock

James Gulliver Hancock Gullivers New Travels 5
You have a staggering (and aspirational) client list. How hard has it been to get recognition and success as an illustrator? And any tips for others just starting out?
I always say that the majority of my recognition and clients have come from my obsession with making my own work. I feel like the ‘ All the Buildings in New York ‘ project and book was a big turning point. That project I started just to document my surroundings for theraputic reasons, and it got so much exposure that people all around the world were introduced to my work. I think my focus on making work and showing it to people is really how I got here. I work all day every day, drawing and making, I think if you are that obsessive and dilligent people eventually start to take notice.


You are incredibly prolific, how do you manage your time when you have multiple projects on the go?
I love having multiple things happening at the same time. I’ve always made sure I have personal projects that fill up any gaps in client work. I have less and less of this ‘free time’ now but I also try to mix it up by doing other things with my hands, ceramics, wood work, cooking etc. I hate having nothing to do, it makes me anxious, and if I don’t make something everyday I get depressed pretty quick. Again, the obsession serves me well.

James Gulliver Hancock colouring book review pavilion
How do you juggle your life between Sydney and New York?
I do like to mix it up. It was always my dream to have a career that sent me around the world. After all my travels New York was probably the most exciting for my career, and Sydney is my home so we try and go back and forth as much as possible. My wife is a musician ( lenkamusic.com ) so she tours in the US a lot also, so it’s good for both of us to spread our time between the two continents.

James Gulliver Hancock Gullivers New Travels
What have you been most proud of in your career and why?
I’m most proud that I set out to make a career from making things and travelling and it’s managed to come together. I love that I’ve taken my personal quirks and desires and made it into a business.

James Gulliver Hancock colouring book review coloured by Colette Whitehouse
Gulliver’s New Travels coloured by Colette Whitehouse

How do you connect to a deeper conceptual or philosophical meaning in your artworks?
I always try and gather information as widely as I can, whether that be articles online about space, or podcasts about economics. Growing up with a psychologist for a mother meant I was always deconstructing my personality, and I think I put that into my work a lot. She also had a library of books on the self and psychology philosophy which I used to dive in and out of and get my mind blown growing up. I’ve always tried to gather wide explorations into my work, whether people see it in the end product or not, it’s important to me to keep my interest to have some deeper investigation underneath it all.

Lastly, where can we find you online?
Jamesgulliverhancock.com,
allthebuildingsinnewyork.com,
Instagram: @gulliverhancock
:-)

Gulliver’s New Travels: Colouring in a New World is published by Batsford Books, and can be purchased from here on Amazon UK. The book is published by Barron’s Educational Series in the US and has a slightly different cover. It is available from Amazon US here as Gulliver’s New Travels: Coloring in a New World. Win your very own copy of this book by telling me what you like best about this book in the comments on my Facebook Page HERE. Up to FIVE winners will be picked at random on Friday 27th May (the more comments, the more I giveaway). OPEN WORLDWIDE.

James Gulliver Hancock Gullivers New Travels
I have recently signed up as an Amazon affiliate, so if you would like to buy this book please do consider using my links, and help support Amelia’s Magazine. I was sent this book in exchange for an honest review.

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