Jake uses pencils and ink pens to create amazing cartoons, animated characters and more recently, one of a kind designer tennis shoes. His inspiration crosses the genres of novels, films, art and animation, and he plans to broaden his horizons still more with a trip to England. He gives us some insights into where his imaginary world has taken him!
Where are you from originally, Jake, and what brought you to the Hastings area to live?
I was born in Sydney, and I lived in a suburb called Minchinbury until I was about six years old. After that, my family moved to the area. For my mum and dad, it was essentially a ‘sea change’ of sorts, to get out of the hustle and bustle of the city.
What were you like as a school student … were you a good all-round student, or someone who lived for art class but daydreamed in every other subject?
I was a different kind of kid (I guess you could say eccentric!) but definitely the latter, more or less. My primary school Principal would probably vouch that I would draw all the time. In fact, all my books had drawings in the back, and this definitely continued into high school! I would also spend a lot of free time as a kid just drawing and losing myself in my own imaginary world, creating adventures for the characters I created. I was happiest there … and still am, really.
If you were given a box of coloured pencils and a blank sheet of paper and asked to draw the first thing that came to mind, what would you draw (and why)?
Depends. Whatever inspires me at that point in time that would determine what I would actually create. I’m thinking of something ‘Exploitation genre based’ right now – ‘Z-Grade Movie Poster’ with a cheesy tagline, probably! I guess I can put it down to being a bit of a cheesy movie buff …
What’s your preferred media/medium to create with, and what is it about them that attracts you?
Pencil and ink pen. It has never let me down! Pencils are the most important thing, as they ‘flesh out’ the artwork. This is where you can make a million mistakes, fix it and get it looking the way you really want. The inks refine the details. From there, it’s definitely software like Photoshop and Corel Painter with the Wacom for digital colours, to get it looking the way I want it. If it’s all traditional media – then it would also include artists’ pigmented inks, which I love using! The colours are so bold, and it’s easy to ‘layer’ colour for depth with inks. On both levels, the attraction lies with the way the details are enhanced in the artwork, including the way it ‘pops’ and works with my style.
You’ve created some fantastic cartoons, which can be both amazingly funny, and also very thought-provoking. What cartoonists, or even comic books, have inspired you?
Firstly, thank you for the compliment! I have too many inspirational people to list with all sincerity − and from a variety of different fields as well. Some are … Animation: Ralph Bakshi, Richard Williams, Adam Phillips, Genndy Tartakovsky, Harry Partridge, Seth MacFarlane, Matt Groening and classically, Walt Disney as a pioneer in his own right.
Artists: Dave Gibbons, Tradd Moore, Drew Struzan, Frank Miller, Herge, Alex Ross, Jim Lee, J. Scott Campbell and creator wise, Stan Lee. Film related: Quentin Tarantino, Robert Zemeckis, Brad Bird (also animation), Dario Argento, Christopher Nolan, Alejandro González Iñárritu and Steven Spielberg.
Writer wise, starting to read Elmore Leonard (if you like Tarantino’s stuff − he was inspired by him − well worth checking out!) and inspirations from humble beginnings include: J.K. Rowling and once again, Tarantino. Source material of note: Watchmen (it deserves its hype!), Batman: Hush (by Jeph Loeb, Jim Lee and S. Williams), The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller, Batman: Year One by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli, Eastman and Laird’s original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, any Asterix and Tintin graphic novels and The Animator’s Survival Guide by Richard Williams.
What projects have you worked on that you’re particularly proud of?
I’ve just finished the inks on what will be my first published piece of sequential comic art for an independent Australian zombie magazine, Decay. From there, I also have a graphic novel that I am collaborating on with a mate. His writing is raw and very hard hitting – but for an artist, it’s mouth-watering stuff!
Before recently however, I never really had too many opportunities on projects.
Where did you get the idea to use coloured pens (sharpies) to personalise items such as tennis shoes? Do you draw on other types of fabric as well?
That was an experimental process. Quite fun too! It was something I wanted to try, really – I started on a pair of canvas shoes one night and just went crazy with the markers, and it looked pretty cool! So then I tried some other themes … one pair has the Drive movie theme to them, including the symbols from the movie like the scorpion, bullet and hammer. The other is a pair of retro Miami Vice shoes – with Crockett and Tubbs each overlooking a siren on either shoe with palm trees over a dusk setting. Different and kind of funky, I guess!
You’re about to move to England very shortly for an extended stay. How long do you plan to stay overseas, and what do you hope to achieve while you’re there?
Indeed! Excited and quite scary too! I am not sure on how long exactly I will be there – it all depends on what happens, really. I want to meet new and interesting people along the way, including seeing some interesting and inspiring places. Although, over there I will be open to opportunity – so if it comes my way, I will definitely be going for it! I wouldn’t mind trying to have a go at fulfilling some personal goals out there.
Dreaming big, what’s an artistic project you’d love to work on or be involved with?
Probably a major production of some kind (i.e. blockbuster film or animation production would be amazing) but even then, anything to do with comics, animation or film that is interesting and provides a nice fee!
In all honesty, to be comfortable with your own artistic pursuits and being paid to be a professional artist – is a huge dream!
Where can people go to view samples of your work?
I am hoping to get a website sometime in the very near future – but any enquires or questions can be sent through to: email@example.com and I will be happy to respond!
Interview by Jo Atkins.
This story was published in issue 83 Port Macquarie