Hi there. Thanks for taking the time to talk to us about pencils. Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your work?
Hello! My name is Jamie Mills, I’m an artist/illustrator, a little bit of an animator and a print and book-maker. There’s a general thread that runs through most of the work I do, a need for me to analyse and explore natural objects, as well as understand human interaction with nature.
So, why graphite? What draws you to it and what appeals to you about working in pencil?
I’m quite sentimental about using mainly graphite to produce work, there’s something in the perseverance of making a drawing using such a simple tool that I can’t get enough of. I work quite slowly and the process can be quite tiresome and painstaking but there’s a real sense of fulfilment at the end. Finding the right combination of pencil and paper is just too nice a feeling. The work I do tends to be quite controlled lines with rougher, more textured areas and I’ve just found over time that graphite is the most natural way for me to reach that combination.
Could you tell us about your creative process, from the initial idea to the finished piece? Do you keep a sketchbook?
I keep two sketchbooks, one of which I try and keep as purely observational drawings; things I’ve found, places, objects in museums. The other tends to be much rougher, for jotting down ideas, quick sketches and working out compositions. With most projects I like to do quite a lot of research if I can, so I try and find reading to do or visit relevant places and find objects or scenes to draw. If I’m honest, there isn’t a lot that goes on between this stage and working out a final composition, I’m not very good at doing roughs so I might do a couple of quick ideas and then go straight onto the final image. If it’s for a sequential piece (a book, series etc) I do tend to spend a bit more time making mock-ups and working out page formats though. Trying to figure out how pages flow together, as well as quite extensive print and paper tests until I find something suitable.
I first came across your work at the Handmade & Bound fair last year. Could you tell us a bit more about that side of your work?
The self-publishing aspect of my work is probably what I get the most enjoyment out of. I’ve always struggled thinking of a project as just one image so often end up thinking of it as a series, or a story (which is how I ended up exploring animation as well). I really enjoy bookmaking and thinking of different ways of presenting the drawings, there’s something about having a tangible, handmade object at the end of a project that is particularly rewarding. And then being able to travel to different fairs around the country to meet people in the same boat, and find people who are interested in the little, insular stories that you make is a really nice feeling.
Can you tell us about a favourite piece of yours, or a favourite creative experience?
I’m still quite into the animated short that I completed a little while ago, Tohu Va Vohu [https://vimeo.com/49551313]. I think, in part, that is still because I haven’t shown the finished film to people yet. Also because it was a collaborative effort, I didn’t have any control of the music for it, I can still enjoy the really phenomenal work by Glacis on the soundtrack. I’m still trying to find the time to make a physical release to go alongside it, a book with a CD of the music (http://mini50records.bandcamp.com/album/music-for-the-animation-tohu-va-vohu) and possibly a DVD as well.
Do you have a favourite subject-matter?
I don’t really have one particular favourite subject matter, as I mentioned, there’s a general subject of natural objects and I draw quite a lot of blocky, vaguely industrial looking things that act as a representation of most things man-made. I’ve been getting quite into drawing rocks and minerals recently as well (stemmed from a collection of drawings of meteorites) approaching it in perhaps a more analytical way, studying the objects and trying to describe them in depth through drawing.
What are some of your favourite materials to use?
I’ve had the same 0.5mm mechanical pencil that I’ve been using for about 5 years now, though I have progressed from B grade leads to 4Bs. I also really love printmaking, which is something that I’ve had difficulty being able to do since leaving Uni, but have recently set myself up so that I can start screenprinting from home, which should have quite a big impact on the way I work.
What size do you tend to work at? Do you have a preferred scale?
I usually work roughly A3 to A2 size, quite big so that I can work in enough detail and play around with drawing textures, which can then be tightened up when printed at a smaller scale.
What directions are you interested in taking your work in the future? Where can we see your work next? …and where else can we get a hold of more of your work?
I’ve got a few fairs lined up in London fairly soon, and hoping to sort out some more for the rest of the year. Hopefully I’ll find the time to make some more of my own books soon, as well as Tohu va Vohu, I want to pick up a picture book that I started 3 years ago but didn’t find the time to finish. I’m also going to be working on some more screenprinted items – got a few series in mind. I’m also currently working on an animated music video with the fine Murray Somerville (http://murraysomerville.com/) and will be working on some more music releases this year with mini50 records (http://mini50records.bandcamp.com/)
Jamie’s work appears in Issue 1 of Tiny Pencil Issue – available to buy here.
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