Interview with the English artist, James Gilleard.
Hello James, we’re really glad to have you today- First off, who are you and where are you right now?
My name is James Gilleard and I’m a freelance illustrator and sometimes animator. Currently I live and work in Matsumoto, Japan.
What’s the favorite item you have on your desk (or room)? [see below]
I bought some books today that I’m going to have a look at shortly. There is a great bookshop in Matsumoto town centre called Maruzen, with a fantastic architecture section. These two magazines are parts of series exploring different mid century modernist houses.
What are you working on these days?
All sorts of things at the moment! A dinosaur book for Lonely Planet, an Action Hero book (that I can’t say much about), an editorial image for Womens health that needs to be done in the next 2 days, an album cover and the singles to go with it for the band Fassine, also a music video for their first single which I have just started. I was also working on pre pre production for an animated feature earlier in the year which hopefully will start again soon. I could be working on an animated TV series soon as art director for the backgrounds.
Can you give us some references you had when you were a child which still influence your work today?
Surrealism was a heavy influence on me when I was younger, and I can kind of still see it in some work particularly my recent landscape project. This was pointed out to me by a lecturer who wanted to use some of my images in a lecture she was preparing about contemporary surrealism.
What’s your creative process for a piece like this one? [see above]
Images like this are usually based on photo reference. This one in particular is a few photos put together – one of a beach and one of a house and one of a mountain. I did no prep with this one – just straight to final! I wasn’t too fussed about the results with this image and a few I did around the same time, I just wanted to enjoy the process. Usually when I do that it ends up better than commercial work, with all the revisions and feedback.
Your most recent works seem to be more focused on architecture and landscapes while you were more intro character design before. How do you explain this style evolution? (tell me if I’m wrong here!)
No you are completely right! I didn’t notice it to start with but after a while of working in a new style began to realise I hadn’t put any characters in anything. I’ve just done some design work for a series of Ikea animations which does combine the two.
For how long have you been working as a freelance designer?
I’ve been fully freelance for about 3 years now, and I love it. The only downside is the social aspect, but i can get up when I want and as long as I get my work done I’m good.
You say that you love ‘past future predictions’- can you give us 2 examples (movies, books, …) that you love and which inspired you a lot.
I recently did a poster based on 2001: A Space Odyssey for Gallery 1988, which at the time was incredibly accurate in predicting what space travel would be like. I have a book called ‘Where’s my Jetpack’ which talks of all the past future predictions we never got – jetpacks, hoverers etc. It’s an interesting read, unlike this answer.
What references did you use for your ‘Landscapes‘ illustrations series? [see below]
I have been playing No Mans Sky a lot recently and decided to sketch some of the more obscure landscapes I saw, which informed a few of the images, then I just took that idea and did a few of my own. One is based on Japanese landscapes though, and I did that based on photos I have been taking while here. Hopefully that one image can be combined with another project I started and form a book.
How is it for you to live in Japan? :)
I’m still here! It’s a really fantastic place and we might stay long term but are not sure yet. Great food, lovely people – very different to London where we were before. We plan to move back to the UK in May as my wifes visa may expire, but I’ve fallen out of love with it. Maybe we will head to Canada or Australia.
What’s next for you?
Next year when I get the jobs I have on out of the way I’m taking half a year off to concentrate on my own projects. Books, animations, pitches etc. Between January and May I should be able to get a few done. I have a book idea about my granddads experiences in WW2 that I’ve been chipping away at over the last year that I really want to focus on first. A few collaborations have come my way too – one being a video game, and I’m excited to see where that goes.
What are you going to do just after having answered to this final question?
I’m going for a run! Then I want to play a new game I downloaded for the ps4 called Bound, which looks amazing.
Thanks a lot James!