Blink Interviews: James Brown

We first came across James Brown’s skills at the Little London Fields festival, and we were hooked immediately. We featured one of his poster designs on the blog back in August. We just had to make contact with James and were delighted when he agreed to an interview with us.

James Brown is an illustrator and printmaker living and working in London. Trained as a textile and surface print designer, James worked in the clothing industry for 10 years producing print designs for numerous brands from Levis to Louis Vuitton. James embarking on a new career as an illustrator in 2007.

James has been commissioned to produce work by publishing houses, magazines and newspapers and advertising and design agencies. Recent clients include Oxfam, Cancer Research, The Guardian and Faber & Faber . Alongside these commissions, James produces limited edition screen prints and linocuts. The traditional processes that go into the production of James’ prints are very important.

What are you currently working on and how is it shaping up?
I have just finished printing an edition for the V&A based the William Morris quote;
“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”
I tried very hard to make it beautiful! I do hope Mr Morris would have thought it worthy of hanging on his wall.

How did you discover your creative skills?
My parents are both illustrators, they didn’t pushed me into the creative industry but helped me in any way they could.

What or who are your longest standing design influences?
Edward Bawden, M.C Ecsher, Victor Vaserely.

What’s currently inspiring you?
Shoes. I’m working on a print of gents shoes to go with my HATS print.

Has your career developed in the way that you anticipated?
I have never really felt that I know where I am going with my career, but if I look back it has a very logical progression.
I studied Printed Textiles at college and spent 10 years working in the clothing industry, so I have just swapped from printing fabric to printing on paper.

How would you describe your design aesthetic?
Familiar and friendly with a nod to the past.

Do you work best alone or collaboratively?
I have never really done it before until recently. In mid September I have 4 screen-prints coming out which I have done with Cath Kidston. We are both happy very with them, so I guess that means the collaboration worked.

What’s the best thing about your job?
Truly enjoying what I do and seeing other people enjoy it too.

Any future projects that you’d like to tell us about?
I have two childrens books coming out next year. Published by Walker Books, they are both board books for babies one about shapes and the other about animals. Both are heavily patterned in high contrast colours. A page of horses from the book is one of the images below.

Pencil and paper or computer and mouse?
A computer is one of many important tools that I have in my pencil case.

Who would you love to work with, past or present?
I really enjoy making prints and posters for small events and businesses that I like and believe in, like the posters I created for The Scythe Festival and The Friends of Homerton Station

Any final word of advise?
Say yes to everything (within reason), you never know where it may lead you.

Designer James Brown in his studio in Hackney Wick, East London.

The flier for James' designs in collaboration with Cath Kidston


from one of the childrens books

The Scythe Festival poster

for the V&A

Thanks so much James. Another great addition to our series of interviews with inspirational individuals, I’m sure you’ll agree. Click here to see the rest of our interviews and get ready to be INSPIRED!

Blink Interviews: Little Doodles

Twitter came up trumps when we were intrigued to see that someone or something called ‘Little Doodles’ had decided to follow “Blink”. Upon some investigation we came upon a really beautiful website and blog. We do absolutely love stumbling upon a new source of inspiration, and we thought it was only fair to share that inspiration with you too!

Little Doodles are the creations of London based illustrator Kate Wilson. Whether it be the clasp of a quirky handbag being sported by a fashionista on the streets to the perfect cupcake in a patisserie window, the little details that often pass people by play the biggest influence on Kate’s work. Having worked for a range of clients including Marc Jacobs, Marie Claire, The Guardian and our favourite Parisian store, Merci, Kate’s illustrative subjects are diverse and wide ranging with all things bejeweled, nature, fashion and the cute and kitsch playing an integral part of her work. We particularly like her very fashionable animals…

Tell us about your current design crush
Oh so many different crushes at the moment!  I’m being drawn towards hand rendered typography (the cheekily named book “Hand Job” by Mike Perry is wonderful) and pattern design at the moment.  Jonathan Saunders and Mary Katrantzou being two of my favourite designers whose use of surface design is spectacular.  Jewellery design is also a huge interest of mine so I’m constantly on the look out for pieces that are unusual.  I’m loving everything at Kabiri and have long been an admirer of Solange Azagury Partridge.

Do you think creativity can exist in the fast fashion womenswear market?
Definitely, fashion is so fast paced that sometimes it’s hard to be creative when trends are so quickly picked up into the mainstream.  But that certainly doesn’t stop wonderful designers to keep striving at doing something new.

Which comes first for you, personal style or trends?
For me it’s personal style.  There’s nothing quite like reflecting yourself in the way you dress but inevitably I think trends filter in to this.  Even if you do follow trends it’s always great to add your own little twist to them.

What are you currently working on and how is it shaping up?
A variety of personal illustration commissions (I get a lot of requests for customized little birds!) as well as some freelance jewelery design which is always a nice departure when I want to have a break from the illustration side of work.

What or who are your longest standing design influences?
Paul Smith is always an inspiration to me (his book is sitting open on my desk as I type) because of the way he injects his own personality into everything he does.

How would you describe your design aesthetic?
I would say it’s quite personal and delicate.  I’ve often been told that it reflects how I look (I’m of Kylie proportions height wise!) so I suppose everything I do is on a small scale.  The thought of drawing on a huge canvas rather than a teeny sketchbook is quite daunting!  I like to have a handmade quality to my work and love the idea that people want to keep it because it makes them smile.

When you can’t get your creative wiggle on, is there somewhere that you go to that’s guaranteed to get your creativity flowing again?
The V&A wins hands down every time.  So much to see under one magnificent roof plus the courtyard in summer is the perfect spot for a bit of people watching in the sun.

What’s the best thing about your job?
Being able to do what I love as a job is incredibly fulfilling.  I’m very lucky to be in the position that I get to indulge my creative side for work.  The fact that it makes people laugh and smile makes me very happy indeed!

Who would you love to work with, past or present?
I’d love to collaborate with some more fashion designers, also I think everything Katie Hillier does is fantastic.  I’m really keen on branching out into jewelery design so to see how someone like Elsa Peretti or Coco Chanel went about creating their pieces would be fascinating.

Any favourite websites or blogs, aside from “Blink” of course!
I love browsing through fashion and design blogs, it would be difficult to narrow them down!  I actually really enjoy finding a beautiful blog, and then coming across it at a later stage after not reading it for a bit.  It’s like rediscovering something special.

I feel most creative when…
I’m roaming the streets of London, people watching, picking up magazines, popping in and out of shops and then coming home with a head full of inspiration.

Thanks for the great interview Kate and please keep us posted on whats going on with you. We’ve added a link to the Little Doodles blog on our ‘recommended blogs’ section, so we’ll be regularly dropping in there too!

Kate Wilson

Little Doddles on display in Merci, Paris

Little Doodles for Marc by Marc Jacobs

Little Doodles commission for the ASOS magazine

We love Kate's humorous viewpoint on fashion and stunning sketchy style

This is Kate's birdy representation of Mad Men's Betty. Genius!