2008 at 10.48 am posted by Veerle Pieters
For our next guest we travel to Canada and I'm sure that illustration lovers will have seen a glimpse of his work in some form or another. It's my pleasure to introduce James White.
Hi, my name is James White, I'm a 31 year-old designer and visual artist living in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. I've been working as a fulltime graphic designer since 1998, all the while keeping up with my personal artwork on my own time. I have been running Signalnoise.com, my personal art website since 1999 and this year have opened up my own online art store where I have sold posters to people all over the globe. I'm still into videogames, toys and comic books :)
I believe James' strength lies in the way he manages to bring complex geometric or organic forms together in a harmonious way. He is also a master in using primary and secondary colors and make them perfectly blend together. His work has an old school vibe but with a modern twist. This combination and in some case the addition of textures is what makes it all work imho. Wish I could experiment like that :) If you browse his older work on Flickr you'll see that James evolved quite nicely over the years.
Did you always know you wanted to be an illustrator and did it take long until you had your personal style?
I've been drawing since I was 4 years-old, so being creative has always been in my blood. I was doodling all the way through school and using the family Commodore to make little posters for me and my friends, which was my introduction to rudimentary computer graphics. I did it because I loved it, and never stopped. In terms of personal style, it took a very long time with a lot of hard work and dedication. I started developing my own computer artwork when I landed in the design industry in 1998, and spent almost 10 years trying everything I could creatively.
Comic books, character design, posters, animation, videogame graphics, children's books, lots of logos, painting . . . and this was all outside of my design day job. I would be inspired by everything around me as well as the new artists I was finding through the web. It's been a long and windy road so far, and I'm always looking for the next challenge.
How did you come up with the idea to use the Dutch language on posters like 'Omringen' and 'Oplossing'? I'm interested in this as it is my main language and to me it feels less exotic when compared to French for example :)
It's funny you should mention that, because the reason I use dutch words is because they look exotic to ME :) When I use words I'm not familiar with it allows me to see them strictly as form, not meaning. I love using type and logos mixed in with my art, but if I use English (my own main language) it has a high potential to slant my own perception of the piece where the word is the most important element. It might go against many design regulations, but I use words I'm not familiar with to remove any preconception I have so I can judge the overall work on strictly aesthetic and composition.
Can you tell us a little bit more about Flash Forge engine without giving away all your secrets :) For example about how you came up with the idea of using Flash in the first place and shed some light on how it works?
Forge is an engine I built in Flash to help me create random assortments of shapes on the fly. I am a very meticulous artist, so I really needed a tool that would force me to relinquish a bit of control over the elements to create a more organic aesthetic. It's a very clunky and cantankerous application, and I'm surprised smoke doesn't billow from my PC when I run it. But it works wonderfully for what I need it to do. I use Forge to create small random groups of vectors based on shapes I feed it, which I then export to Illustrator where I can clean them up and manipulate them however I want. This method isn't new, and is based on the work of Joshua Davis whom I have been a fan of since 1998.
Nebula of Shapes
Is your work the result of experimenting or do you have a clear picture in your head of the end result when you start + how long does it usually take until you reach an end result that you are pleased with?
I tend to start each work with a basic idea of what I want to achieve, but inevitably I stray from the course either intentionally or accidentally. I do a lot of sketching before I even look at the computer, sometimes drawing up to 40 thumbnails before landing on a composition I like. Once I jump onto the computer, I have a very organic process where I tend to say "Hmm, what if I tried this?" to see if I can discover new styles and ideas on the fly, so there is a lot of trial and error. That being said, I do try to maintain the overall vibe I want the piece to have, and banging through with so many variables at work can be quite a lengthy process. I'm a bit of a brute when it comes to not leaving a piece alone until it's doing what I want. The amount of time spent on each piece swings wildly, where one might take 3 hours and another, 15 hours. Eventually, things will snap into place where my initial vision and technical experimentation sync up.
Solid Gold Bomb
Did they internet change the way you work and create new opportunities?
Absolutely. The internet is a constant and unrelenting source of inspiration. I get out of bed, make my coffee, and check out what all of my designer pals from all over the world uploaded while I slept. It's a wonderful creative organism, and I am very much addicted to it. As far as my own work habits go, Wordpress, Flickr and Big Cartel have changed my life with easily updatable websites, networking, and allowing me to sell my art online to a huge audience worldwide. Because of the internet I have been given opportunities to work with some amazing people, such as Toyota, Armada Skies and I have been recently contacted by MTV to work on a very exciting upcoming project. To say that the internet changed my life would be a vast understatement :)