Quentin Jones- ‘Fashionable Art’
It’s always a sweet taste in your mouth when you have those annoying bug-like doubters and haters all over you in the beginning, and you prove them all wrong in the end. They always make good stories, right? This is somewhat similar to what Quentin Jones, the 27-year-old illustrator/animator/filmmaker/model went through during art school. While there, she was told anything “fashionable” was frowned upon. Fast-forward years later, her job is to now create art works, whose subjects are cartoonish, surreal, collage-like fashion visuals, for a range of clients including big-time fashion labels and magazines – Vogue, AnOther, Chanel and TEST – just to name a few. Looking back, what would the London-based artist say to her doubters now? “Thank-you.” Short and simple.
The Toronto-born Jones paints a picture through whichever medium she chooses. Through film, animation or illustration, they can all be described with the same word; vivid. Watching her work is very much enjoyable and refreshing. Seeing all the different elements and objects she incorporates in her work as well as the different styles and colours (animals too!) brings such liveliness into the viewer’s eyes. She portrays different emotions, from humour to darkness, to colourful to even the what-the-hell-is-that. We get it all.
With a very special project happening regarding the HAUNTED: Darkroom x Quentin Jones collabo, we were fortunate enough to get Quentin to answer a few questions about finding balance between illustration, animation, filmmaking and modeling, her cat phobia, her swag, and success. Her future plans are pretty awesome too.
First off, talk about how you got into illustration/animation. What made you want to get into that field?
I don’t think I ever aimed or wanted to be an illustrator until I had graduated. For some reason the idea seemed slightly limiting- a sort of lifetime interpreting other people’s thoughts or words, rather than being whole creative oneself. But, then at the other end of the spectrum there was the blind leap of becoming a painter, or fine artist, which despite being appealing was ultimately too scary. The animation/film thing just started after an experiment with a new camera where I was moving around my drawings.
And how did filmmaking come along and since you’re into both, which one do you find more enjoyable?
Illustration V filmmaking? I guess one has immediate gratification and one is a real labour of love. Animation work involves a sort of problem solving that keeps you addicted. I guess I get kicks out of working out how one thing can sequentially become another thing. The end result when the film has its sound added is pretty magical, but the freedom of splashing paint is also hard to beat.
You’re also a model, I believe? How are you able to fit that into your hectic schedule and balance all three? (Art, modeling, filmmaking)
Luckily they have grown and shrunk in pace perfectly. A couple of year’s ago I modelled for most of my week and tried to cram in the art projects in stolen hours and weekends, and now I only do occasional modeling jobs and I work full time with assistance to try to keep up with the creative work. I feel very lucky that I have been able to model to afford to do my MA and live in London, but I do not miss castings or catalogue shoots for a second.
You said in an interview earlier this year that while attending art school, anything “fashionable” was frowned upon. What do you want to say to those people now?
I guess I hope that I am working within the fashion world, without making “fashionable” work. So I think I might say thank you.
Your style consists of cartoonish images, surreal imagery, collages and beauty/high-fashion-inspired visuals. How would you describe your own work?
Without sounding too much like plonker (I hope) I am into visual contrasts, juxtaposing images, old photocopies meeting neon paint, quick mark making, and folded paper.
There are also plenty of animals involved. What’s your favourite animal and why do you choose to incorporate them into your work?
I actually have a cat phobia, but am the most drawn to using them in my work. So much so that earlier this year I had a self-imposed cat ban. In real life I am a dog person. I can’t help putting on stupid voices when I see one.
Where do you draw inspiration for a piece and do you ever get “illustrator’s- block?”
I think I am never short for initial ideas- the block comes more when you realize what you did looks rubbish, and you don’t know how to fix it. I have a stack of old art books for moments like these. Favourites are the V&A Modernism book, Hannah Hoch, an old Kitaj book, and maybe a bit of Lazlo Maholy Nagy.
Talk about your collaboration with Darkroom. How did that collaboration happen and what do you have in store for viewers from Oct. 27 to Nov. 6?
I really wanted to do a window display as next challenge, and the Darkroom seemed to match my style the best out of the possible stores we had in mind. Once I had gone in to see Rhonda and Lulu, and their black shop I was already really excited about the project. Building in 3D has been great, and involves a bit of the problem solving/design element of animations.
Going back to filmmaking, I was really impressed with the video you did for AnOther Magazine (the one in conjunction with the Museum of London). The entire piece was quite impressive. Can you describe how you came up with that concept? And where would you rank that amongst your list of films?
This was a quite tough film to make. Firstly I set myself the challenge of working on white- the opposite to my filmic comfort zone of black. Secondly animating centuries old pieces was trickier than I could have anticipated. Most of the concepts were based on how to bring these ghost-like pieces to life. I think it all came together in the end.
What’s your dream collaboration? Any magazines, artists, fashion labels you want to get commissioned by in the future?
There are so many things I’d like to try. I have always thought the way I work could gel well with Stella McCartney’s stuff- maybe even build a window installation for her. I would also like to work more on painting, and getting away from the computer… but I would also love to try my hand at a music video. Beyonce, Anna Calvi, or Feist would do.
How does it feel to be working for some of the world’s biggest magazines, fashion labels, blogs, etc.? Is it still surreal to you or are you accustomed to it?
This question is surreal. I think I must have somehow fooled you all… But, no I still get really excited about each project, and can’t quite believe my luck.
With such an impressive portfolio and long list of established clients, do you view yourself as the competitor trying to reach the top or the competition- someone many aspiring artists look up to and want to become some day?
I hope no students look up to me! There are so many more impressive people to be inspired by. I still trawl through my dad’s books trying to work out what makes the greats great.
Lets talk about fashion. Does some of your artistic style rub off on your fashion sense? As in colourful, sometimes unpredictable or maybe even moody, depending on how you feel on a particular day? Describe your “swag.”
Good question. In some senses yes- I like black a lot. Black leather, black button, black silk, but always punctuated by flashes of colour. I also think contrasting texture in imagery and dress is great. Although, I guess my illustration could be described as dissecting classic images and I hate “deconstructed” clothes. Like when Diesel is shoving pockets on jeans in the wrong places. So naff.
What are some of your fashion do’s and don’ts for girls as well as the fellas?
Um, try to resist too much high street bingeing. It is a naughty habit that leads to mountains of cheap tat. I have been trying to curb this urge for years. I know people don’t necessarily have the cash for higher end stuff, but try to look at vintage stores and smaller boutiques.
Finally, what do you have planned for the future?
To buy a French bulldog.