Hi James, thanks for taking the time to do this interview.
Thanks for having me!
To start with I just want to mention that nearly every time I've asked one of my interviewees who there favourite living illustrators and artists are your name seems to always pop up regardless of their influences. So my first question is how does it feel to be the Brad Pitt of the illustration world and how did it happen?
I was discovered by Ralph Bakshi when he cast me in Cool World. But before I started adopting children from developing nations and giving them mo-hawks, I painted covers for Fables, published by Vertigo comics. I lived for a year by doing one cover a month while receiving some attention for my work through my website. Then the editorial work started coming in, and a few years later, more book cover and advertising work as well. By then, I had accumulated some awards for my comic cover and illustration work, and my work continued to spread on the internets.
If you had the time and you wanted to how much would it cost me to have you paint my living room?
If I had the time and actually wanted to paint your living room, I’d probably do it for a good meal.
It has been years since you did the Batgirl Covers and I know you don't like repetition in your work, but would you do them any differently if you revisited them and are you fed up with always being asked about the Batgirl covers?
No, I don’t mind — It’s great that the covers continue to live on, even though it’s been a few years and my run on the series wasn’t that long. Certainly, I would approach the covers differently now . . .they might be more colorful now, the melodrama heightened towards the unusual and ridiculous.
Apart from illustration what other things are you into?
I play the trumpet when I can, but everything I do usually has to do with making pictures.
Who are your favourite artists/illustrators alive today, please note the name James Jean is excluded ?
I’m usually looking at old Chinese scroll paintings, Japanese woodblock prints, and anatomical lithographs and mezzotints. But I enjoy the work of Brian Cronin, Tomer Hanuka (with whom I went to school), Chris Ware, the list goes on.
Is your wife inspiring? Mine is! Oh… and does she ever talk about kids and if you had a son or daughter would you let them become an Artist?
My wife has great taste and has amassed an inspiring collection of art books in our home. The vicissitudes of marriage also inform my work as well. If I had kids, I’d only let them pursue art seriously if they had the diligence and talent for it.
Has any of your work ever been animated or have you ever thought about animating your work?
I’ve had the pleasure to work with Motion Theory on a few projects, and they brought my designs to life. Other than that, I’m very happy crafting single images.
Is there any particular Artist or Illustrator you would like to collaborate with or is collaboration not your cup of tea?
The only artist I’ve seriously collaborated with is Kenichi Hoshine, but we each create our own pieces for our site, www.politewinter.com
Can you tell us a bit more about Process Recess?
Keeping my blog has been a small effort of mine to contribute to the illustration community that has supported me all along and also a way to answer the many questions I receive on a daily basis. It’s a document of my life to a certain extant, though I never discuss anything too personal on there. It’s always about the art and its evolution, and hopefully I can offer something relevant and interesting to the culture.
Could you live without your computer?
Sure, but even a paint brush can be considered a piece of advanced technology.
What’s next in the pipeline for James Jean?
My 2nd book will be out this summer, and I have material for a 3rd book soon after. At the moment, I’m concentrating mostly on advertising work while trying to return to my personal painting.
Batman or Batgirl?
Bows or arrows?
Sometimes I feel like a target.
Fishing or fighting?
Fight to fish another day.