A mixed selection of art works and a pragmatic interview with Oliver Jeffres. Following paintings are from “Measuring Land & Sea“, “Additional information” and “Disaster Painting“.
“Mountains, according to the angle of view, the season, the time of day, the beholder’s frame of mind, or any one thing, can effectively change their appearance. Thus, it is essential to recognize that we can never know more than one side, one small aspect of a mountain”. Haruki Murakami
What other artists have influenced your work?
Many. Off the top of my head, here are a few: Edward Gorey, Maurice Sendak, Saul Steinberg, Tomi Ungerer, Edward Hopper, Tim Burton, John Burningham, Quentin Blake, Ralph Steadman, Sempe, Michael Sowa, John Currin, Vermeer, Julian Opie, Yoshitomo Nara, Norman Rockwell, Eduardo Recife, Mark Tansey, Michael Gilette, Studio AKA, Neasden Control Centre, Alex Kanevsky, Lucian Freud, Eric Carle, Marc Boutavant, Cy Twombly, Peter Doig, Peter Blake, Cara Klein, Ron Mueck, Caravaggio, Chuck Close, David Hockney, Shel Silverstein, John Singer Sargent, Eduard Manet, Martin Kippenberger, Spike Jonze, Mr Bingo, Neil Gaimon, Wes Anderson and my good friend Mac Premo, whose work seems to constantly intertwine with mine.
How did you become an illustrator?
I have always been a visual thinker. Since I was very young I’ve been fascinated by how people make art, and the ways that visual creations come to life. Painting and illustration are natural methods of communication for me: when I’m not using them to express my own ideas, I’m using them to explore someone else’s. Collaborating with others allows me to tap into new experimental pockets of my own unconscious, and lets me play with the ideas that others bring to their work.
As to becoming an illustrator, I made the decision out of college that I was good enough to support myself with my illustration, and I went for it. I assembled a portfolio of work and began sending it around to potential clients. After a few commissions, I updated my portfolio with my newly published work, and continued building it up from there.
What would your typical workday consist of?
There isn’t really such thing a thing. There are some constants: I start my days by walking my dog to the studio early, having a coffee and breakfast, and then having a production meeting with my studio team to determine what’s happening the day, the week, and the month. After responding to some urgent emails, I tackle my list for that day. Given the versatile nature of what I do, every single day is different.
I balance four separate branches of art production: picture book making, illustration, painting, and various self-initiated projects. Each of these present unique demands. Sometimes I’ll be working on three or four small commissions at once, or I may be immersed in a single immersive project. Quite frequently, I’ll be out meeting people, working on site, or travelling for events and signings.
How do you promote yourself?
When starting out, I created a disposable portfolio that could be posted to people and that I wasn’t dependent on getting back. How you present and design your self-promotion reflects on your visual ability. My website is absolutely essential, an accessible and immediate means of showing my work, and these days I use past publications and catalogues from past shows as promo material. When you are self-employed, you are either working for someone or promoting yourself. The ideal scenario is when the work you do for other people is working as self-promotion as well.
What advice would you give a budding illustrator?
Keep producing and work hard. Practice self-discipline. Learn to deal with disappointment. Learn how to balance your books. Advocate for yourself when it’s appropriate. Don’t work for free. Don’t settle for ‘good enough’. Know when to stop working and enjoy the fact you get paid to draw pictures. Be honest with yourself about your ability. If you believe you are good enough, then you shouldn’t care what anyone else thinks about your work; if it really is good enough, it will be seen for what it is. Good luck.
Artist Website > www.oliverjeffers.com
Facebook > www.facebook.com/oliverjeffersart
Instagram > @oliverjeffers
Twitter > @OliverJeffers