Interview: 20 questions with illustrator James Brown

British illustrator and printmaker James Brown dabbled in the world of fashion before realising his real calling was art and illustration. As his collection comes to ACHICA this weekend we found out a little more about him in our 20 questions interview...

1. What do you love most about being an artist?

I'm my own boss and I'm doing exactly what I want to do. What's not to love?

2. How did you become an artist?

My parents are both designers so were very supportive and encouraging. Not pushy!

3. Which artists have inspired you?

Edward Bawden, Patrick Caulfield, Victor Vasarely, M.C. Ecsher and Hatch Show Print.

4. Who or what inspires you daily?

Driving, cycling, walking, bussing and tubing. All providing valuable time to think ideas through.

5. What is your favourite media to work with?

Lino printing, every print turns out slightly differently as here are so many variables in the process; pressure, registration, thickness of ink. And then there are all the slight imperfections and ink overlaps, they really make me happy.

6. Describe an average day as an artist?

My days are very fractured with lots of different things requiring my attention, responding to emails, packing orders, admin and that's all before I can start designing or printing. This suits me as I have a very short attention span so I flit from one thing to the next. Probably not the most economical use of time, but it suits me. When I can finally sit down and design or start printing it feels like a luxury.

7. What is your favourite artwork?

I really like my HAT prints. My favourites are FEZ, CASQUETTE and HOMBERG. I like to imagine who wears the hats. I've built up a profile for the wearer of each hat. Don't mess with Mr Homberg!

8. What's the most exciting project you've worked on?

All of my projects are exciting! They are all so varied and I get to meet interesting people. I recently designed the logo for The East End Trades Guild, I was very proud of the work I produced and it introduced me to whole world of new friends and acquaintances.

9. If you hadn’t been an artist what do you think you'd be doing?

I don't know what I would have done, I'm don't really know how to do anything else. I like to think I would make a good shop keeper. I would love to have a hardware shop. I would wear a brown overcoat and be knowledgable and efficient!

10. Describe your home style?

A retro eclectic family home.

11. What do you hope to cross off your to-do list this summer?

To see the sun shine for more than 3 consecutive days.

12. Describe your ideal weekend?

Walking with my family across the Marshes to Hackney, through Broadway Market and down Columbia Road and then on to Brick Lane and Spitalfields. We would be making regular refreshment stops along the way and we would bump into lots of people we know. As we peruse various markets, shops and general goings on, the sun would be continually shining.

13. Favourite holiday destination?

I'm not one for sitting on a beach so I would have to say New York.

14. What are your hobbies?

I have just got a mini allotment so that is my new hobby. Propagating, planting, watering, pulling weeds and chucking snails!

15. What's your signature dish?

My eldest son would say bangers and mash but I would like to say something a little more sophisticated, so I will say 'Saucisson et Purée de Pommes de Terre'.

16. 5 fantasy dinner party guests?

Tom Good

Barbara Good

Jerry Leadbetter

Margo Leadbetter


17. What book are you reading?

I'm a bit dim really and can't concentrate long enough to read a book. I like books with pictures or books with lists of facts or trivia.

18. Best piece of advice you’ve been given?

A fortune teller once told me to take a business course when I had my palm read when I was 19. Foolishly I never took that business course but I would advise others to do it.

19. What is your motto?

This is where the magic happens.

20. What artwork are you currently working on?

I am preparing for a joint exhibition with Kate Gibb at Stour Space in Hackney Wick in November. 'Press & Pull' is the name of the show, Kate will be 'pulling' screen prints and I shall be 'pressing' lino cuts.

[Top picture credit: Jeremy Freedman]

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Emily Peck, Editor

View all posts by Emily Peck, Editor