James Daw Botanical Think Tank
UK artist James Daw has the uncanny ability to transport me immediately to my childhood, when the pictures in story books contained a rich world, full of characters and new details that emerged when the book was opened and re-read time, and time again. I suppose one could say that my habit of looking at the details of even the most schematic or delightfully patterning of images began early, as did my love of drinking in of color.
James Daw Bits
I always ask artists what their creative lives were like when they were small, and think that for many making art was a way to create fantasy, an alternative universe, almost a requirement when not everyone had unregulated access to media, television and various personal devices. However, it is not my purpose here to belie ages past, and some Luddite sense of the loss of originality and human worth, because we know well that many are still today creative in this same way regardless of the constant onslaught. Daw is certainly one of these people. Take for example his vivid illustrations for Exhibition Ilustrarte-Bienal International Lisbon, Portugal, made for a new book currently in development, entitled The Great Balloon Race.
James Daw Through the Mountain, Exhibition Ilustrarte-Bienal International Lisbon, Portugal
Through the Desert
Over the Ocean
Or perhaps….the artist’s Still Live series or the picture Botanical Think Tank in which he combines expressive drawing and painterly technique with collage. The adventures of childhood continue with the group of works in Performance depicting a tale a Victorian era circus.
RB: Can you tell me about your process and way of working?
JD: Cut out and collage is probably the most important thread through my work. Quite often on one side I will be mark-making and experimenting with texture, and on the other, cutting out the shapes needed, making sure as I go that I have no real clue as to how the two will coincide and therefore keeping that spontaneity I crave. I then scan the pieces into Photoshop, manipulate, and construct a collage, followed by printing this out and re-working the image with mixed media, back and forth until happy with the result.
RB: Please tell me a little more about your technique and the tools you use…
JD: I would consider anything and everything as part of my toolbox. For the most part, I will create marks and textures and I consider randomness, that of accidents and mistakes, as a large part of the process. Being able to be as loose and free as possible, almost child-like in the beginning is extremely important to me. It makes things exciting! I need that element of unknown and surprise to keep me interested. I will then try to contain these “random” elements by trapping them through cutout and collage.
RB: What are some of your favorite projects or work that you are most happy with?
JD: I would say I loved creating the two self-initiated pieces The Farmers Market + Federation Square.
RB: You illustrate children’s books among many other projects, and all of your art seems to have an element of playfulness and magic, why were you drawn to this medium and style?
JD: I would say I was drawn to this style of illustration because it appeals to my inner kid and as well, mixed media seems to lend to the sense of the naive that I want to convey. Collage pieces are just like building blocks you can build up and take away as you please. Together shape, color, and composition come together to form a finished story. I guess this way of working is from my time as an abstract painter. The idea is that I am bringing the two together some way.
Learn more about James Daw’s Illustration