Q&A: Jay Wright

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Illustrator, Jay Wright, made the move to Berlin last year, after graduating from UWE Bristol. Whilst studying, he completed an exchange to the German capital after a little coaxing from his tutor. Now a full time illustrator, Jay credits his big break to his work being published in Anorak magazine, and since, has been commissioned to draw for some of the most respected publications in the world, including Die Zeit, The New York Time and Penguin.

We talk to Jay about what inspires his bold, animatic characters, his move to Berlin and the state of the art industry.

What do you feel is the most important thing about your work?
Well first, I see my work as two Lego heads. One head is for personal work, and the other for commercial projects. I pop them on and off when it suits.

It’s difficult to pin down the most important thing or things, but I suppose it’s fun and simplicity. I mean, there are around 100 things I think you consider when drawing or making something, even if most of the time they are subconscious.

What keeps you motivated to create, and keep creating work?
The feeling I get when I draw or make something that I like. It usually lasts for about a day and a half.

Some of your illustrations a pretty crazy, where do you get your ideas from?
Mostly out of my arse.

It’s a really vibrant style, how do you produce your images?
I draw everything by hand outside of the computer on crappy cheap printer paper. Then, I scan the drawings and finish them with my trusty old computer. It’s a shame really, but that’s how the cookie crumbles in this tech world.

You have racked up some pretty interesting projects; does anything stand out as your favorite?
Yes. My favorite project ever was working with Die Ziet magazine right here in Berlin. Just because, I got to personify really expensive pieces of designer furniture, put them into romantic settings, and for a magazine that has slightly over 2 million readers.

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What can we expect from you next?
I have a few things on the go right now including a book called Heavy Memories. Oh, and I am doing a pottery course this summer too.

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What do you think are the important issues facing yourself, and your industry at the moment?
Wow, that is a very serious question. I’m not too sure about issues facing the industry. I don’t really have any fears concerning the illustration world.

Personally, I do worry about how long you can really work as an illustrator. I mean I’m not too worried about it. I think the solution is constantly making personal work, this will inform your commercial work and keep you engaged, happy and developing as an artist.

If you do have fears this shouldn’t hinder you making work at all.

I feel like sometimes because it’s hard to get off the ground when you graduate and start off as an illustrator, some people sometimes quit or get disheartened with the whole thing. My advice is keep going. If it doesn’t work then just make paintings for your mum. She will never give you bad feedback and won’t ignore your emails.

Have any relationships, friendships, business or otherwise, been significant in shaping your work as it is now?
While I was still at university at UWE Bristol they hired a new tutor and illustrator called Phil Wrigglesworth. He pushed me to do an exchange in Berlin at the Universität der Künste Berlin. He also gave me lots of help, good advice and guidance concerning being a practicing illustrator that I’m very thankful for.

Also, Cathy Olmedillas from the children’s publication Anorak Magazine. I would like to say thank you to her too, as she gave me my first real illustration job.

ano-1200_1200Berlin is an incredible city, what is that attracts you as a creative?
I find this question quite difficult to answer, especially when it has this ‘creative person’ connotation attached to it.

There are the bigger things that I love about Berlin, creative or not. Like the slow pace of the city and the liberal nature that actually made me want to study here in the first place.

To be honest though, for me, it’s the small things. Like, the hundreds of Ping-Pong tables all over the city. The street snacks and the cheap fruit and vegetables from the Turkish market. Also, I think the outdoor spaces in Berlin are very unique. All these spaces allow you to be outside more, which I think is amazing. I don’t want to say much more, you should just come and visit if you haven’t already.

I do want to tell the readers about a theory a friend of mine has on Berlin. It’s a theory, or reason if you like on this slow pace of life thing. People might not know this, but the city of Berlin is built on loads of sand. You see it everywhere when you walk around. He believes, that all this sand under the city is causing a kind of beach effect on the residents. This beach effect might be one of the reasons for the slow pace of a Berlin day.

Some may dismiss this as a load of rubbish, but I do think there is some degree of truth in it, and nevertheless think about it often.

Any advice for budding illustrators out there?
Be honest. Wear your heart on your sleeve.

Have lots of friends that don’t make art.

And, be careful with the Internet. It has an evil side.


A look at Blues – By Jay Wright from Jay Wright on Vimeo.



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