Tuesday, August 13, 2013

James Powell

Deal for the Devil
James Powell

Name: James Powell              
City/State: Minneapolis, MN
MNartist.org profile: http://www.mnartists.org/artistHome.do?rid=232403
Facebook page: Jamespowellart
Twitter: @James_P_Powell

James Powell is an Englishman living in Minnesota and still spells the word "COLOUR" with a "U". As a self taught artist his artwork and cartoony pictures have been seen in publications and galleries in England, Japan, Australia and in The States. 
He continues to create original artwork, sculptures and toys and get paint on anything that gets in his way.  He is also Britain's first freelance Godzilla for hire.

Tell me about your work? What are you currently working on? How is this different from past projects?
One of my new years resolutions for 2013 was to draw a robot a day for the whole year. This was really an exercise in self-discipline and a device to be more creative. I lasted until about March (and towards the end they were little more than box people scribbled on Post-It notes at 11:59pm)  Though the original exercise failed I did manage to get some good pieces from it and just sold a whole series of robots done in water colour (which I haven’t painted in since school)

I also do a lot of paper cut art work now. I originally started them thinking that they would be a lot quicker to create than the acrylic paintings I was doing at the time. I was wrong. So very, very wrong. They can take ages to complete and once you start you have to finish. You can’t just cut corners and finish it up quickly like a painting.  If you don’t finish it totally all you have are tiny pieces of paper trash. I really like to do them though; you can get into a bit of a zone while focusing on a knife on paper.  Relaxing.

In the last year or so I got into having booths at comic conventions. I half expected to be run out of the place with pitchforks and lightsabers for not having an actual comic book of my own to sell but everyone was so welcoming to me and my art that it was hard not to get really into it. I have been doing a few pieces based around well known characters drawn in my own style, Batman, Godzilla, Star Wars etc. I tried out some water colour techniques and have a few pieces planned out for the Doctor Who 50th anniversary (because I am British and that is what we do)

How did you decide to become an artist? 
I don't know when exactly. I don't have a story of when a great artistic hero spoke some inspiring words to me as a child. I just have always drawn. My mum always used to pass birthday cards to me before she sent them and asked me to draw inside them. It was just what I did. 

I went through a phase at university when I switched subjects and dropped art. This was basically because I was an idiot. It was also because for the first year I was there we were only asked to bring in "5 items that represent you" and draw them over and over and over again. That first year you don't really have much in your room so it was just a bunch of kids drawing beer cans, pillows and lamps they had borrowed. 

Instead I studied theatre and script writing but seemed to end up always drawing the sets, characters and dialogue I had written, creating illustrations and short comic books. It was just a lot clearer for me that way. I naturally came back to drawing and painting pretty quickly, begging for forgiveness. I won't leave it again. 

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
For me it was probably something about focus. I have a tendency to have a million things on the go at once which means I also have a million unfinished things on the go at once. The same with my portfolio, it was all over the place with samples of paintings, paper cuts, sculptures etc. It was a little overwhelming to look at. Someone advised me to just focus on one thing. This means I have three portfolios for different things but it makes things a lot easier and helps a client focus on a style that will suit them rather than be bombarded with EVERYTHING..

Many artists struggle to find ways to sell their art.  How do you sell your work?  How do you market yourself?
This is something I really need to be better at. At the moment when not at an art show, I take orders via e-mail or Facebook. I don’t have the best relationship with computers (they seem to hate me a little bit) so I am only just making friends with Etsy. I should have more of an online store within the next month or so.

Who are some of the Minnesota artists you enjoy?

Aziza Noor
Aziza does some of the most beautifully detailed work and is maybe the friendliest person I have ever met.  You should pause from reading this right now, go to her Tumblr or Deviant Art page and check out her stuff, then come back if at all possible.

Luis Diaz
I cannot get enough of Luis’ work.  He has such a vast talent for characters and the humor in his work is amazing. Sometimes I wish I was Luis Diaz.

I could stare at Liza’s paintings for ages. Each seems to have something natural or organic about it while at the same time fantastical and dream like.  If I wasn’t drawing robots and monsters it is the work I wish I could do.…I would have no idea how I would even start.

Linnea Marie Maas
Probably THE robot artist of Minnesota. I first remember seeing one of her robots during the Foot In The Door show at the MIA in 2010 and it feels like I can’t go into a restaurant or cafĂ© without seeing something of hers still. If anyone works harder than her to get her stuff out there then I haven’t met them.

 If I were to follow you around to see art in Minnesota, which places would we go? What would we see?I have loved Altered Esthetics (www.alteredesthetics.org) since my wife sent me a postcard of one of their Lutefisk Sushi comic book shows when I still lived in England.  It is the place for me to see new and established artists in one place. I love it. I was lucky enough to get involved a little more with them in the last two years, it is just a great place for artists and art lovers.

I like to find art in places you probably wouldn’t usually expect it. I would definitely head to the Tomodachi store in Rosedale Mall (www.Tomodachi.us). Their website is aimed more to the vinyl toys they sell but the owner Denny Park is a huge supporter of local artists and all round great guy!  He will often have local artists display work on his walls and constantly has a display of vinyl art toys from well known and local artists. Denny got me into vinyl toy art and though him I have a few bits at Masu sushi and Robata (Minneapolis and Mall of America locations) The fact that all the artists start with the same vinyl figure (usually a Munny Doll from Kidrobot) and create pieces so amazingly different always interests me. Tomodachi has a design competition until September which is actually how I got started. (http://tomodachi.us/2013/08/01/endless-summer-2013-munny-design-contest/)

In addition to www.Local-Artist-Interviews.com, where do you go online for good art resources, whether to find a new artist, or to see what is going on in the art world locally and otherwise? I seem to have been able to tame Facebook into being my link to the artistic world. As annoying as it can sometimes be, it really is a great tool for artists both to promote their work and link to others. If you manage it correctly and follow the right people it can supply you with a constant flow of great resources and inspiration. Also good for cat videos and people using “LOL” way too much for my liking. By which I mean using it at all.

When people have “LOL’ed too much for me on Facebook I always hit  - www.illustrationmundo.com

What can we expect to see from you in the future?
I recently finished illustrating a children’s book called Taco The Sled Dog (http://studiocity.me/titles.html) which I believe is a available right now. The author, Paige Arnold, wrote the story about a Chihuahua who joins a sled dog team when she was 12 years old. She is also a massive Godzilla fan. There are no monsters in the book. It is still awesome though.

I will have a few pieces as a guest artist at Gallery 427 in the Northrup King Building in NE Minneapolis (www.gallery427.com) in September.

I am also the featured artist at Altered Esthetics “Fabled” show in which artists recall the triumphs, tragedies, and happily ever afters of folklore, legends, and tall tales.

Opening Reception: Friday, September 6, 2013 - 7:00pm to 10:00pm

Image List:
1. Deal for the Devil (Acrylic)
2. Muppet Who (aka: Kermit Who – Doctor Who/Muppet water colour)
3. Gold Robot (water colour)
4. TMNT (Cut Paper)
5. 3 Little Pigs (Part of Altered Esthetics Fabled show)
6. Taco the Sled Dog (cover)
7. Munny dolls at Masu
8. Robot Munny doll