Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Shana James

1. What's this illustration for?

This image is titled Depth and I did it as part of a series of collographs for an exhibition I had entitled Interplay the full exhibition can be viewed on my website www.shanajames.com

2. Do you have to wait for a flash of inspiration - how do you start?

I tend to think in a visual way, so when I read a piece of text I usually see a picture straight away or several pictures but that’s only the beginning. I then scribble my idea out and see how it can be improved usually the composition needs some work - would the scene look better from a different point of view: up close, down low, from above? I just scribble and brainstorm in my sketch book and the right picture seems to present itself. Sometimes things just seem right from the beginning and sometimes a lot of work occurs before they feel right. It’s a process that I'm now very comfortable with. I also keep a sketch book of ideas, scribbles really, in a way my life is a narrative which I illustrate aspects of.

3. How did you get your start as an illustrator?

My background is in visual arts, I went to art school and have been working as a visual artist for 18 years, exhibiting in galleries, having exhibitions, selling artwork etc. Truth be known I have never actually illustrated a book, so I am hoping this article might help me actually help me get my start as an illustrator. Although in past incarnations I have designed images for greeting cards, invitations and illustrated for graphic designers. Also the children's author Meg Mckinlay used one of my images on the homepage of her website. I hope your readers don't think I'm a phoney... I was invited to be here....really I was.

4. Who or what has influenced your work?

Things that happen to me or members of my family influence me. A line of text or a lyric from a song. Being in a different environment usually inspires me, like going on holidays or being in a different landscape. I have always loved the work of Chagall and I also love the Pre-Raphaelites. Whenever I see narrative artwork with a strong emotional content I am drawn to it - I love Shaun Tan’s work and I also
really enjoyed the black and white drawings by Ann James (no relation)in the children's novel Audrey Goes To Town. The other influence is old wood-block illustrations.

5. What's your favourite media for creating pictures?

When I paint it has to be oils, the rich creamy consistency is so addictive and it’s easy to change things which I really like so I can let the image evolve. I also love printmaking linocut and collograph are my favourites. Collograph involves making a collaged printing plate and then printing intaglio - like an etching.

6. Do you experience illustrator's block - if so, what do you do about it?

If I get stuck I sit quietly and go though old sketch books I have continuously kept a visual diary since my second year of art school until now, that’s 20 years worth, (gee am I that old?) Anyway usually one of my old pictures jumps out and that forms the starting point.

7. What's the worst thing about being a freelancer?

Not having enough paid work at times.

8. And the best?

Choosing your own hours, choosing your own projects, doing something you love. Also I'm quite happy to have a deadline and a project with an external source, so if I don't have one I make my own.

9. What are you working on at the moment?

I am working on a series of oil paintings that illustrate different aspects of human nature.

10. Where can we see more of your work?

I have images on the www.thestylefile.com and I also have my own website www.shanajames.com . If you want to see real actual work in WA you can see some of my work at Gunyulgup Galleries, located in the Margaret River wine region. In Melbourne I have work at PG the Printmaker Gallery.

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