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In conversation with…JAKe

So, what’s your story?

I’m creative: I draw, write, design, lecture and sometimes direct animation.

I was born in Hull, in East Yorkshire and don’t really remember a time before I was drawing. I’ve got really early memories of drawing Star Wars and Doctor Who monsters (there’s a photo of me at about 5 colouring in the UK version of the Star Wars comic). At school I always seemed to have the ability to draw pictures of people and make it look like them. And everyone always told me I was going to be a cartoonist when I grew up. I started doing flyers and comics and ads and stuff for a local bands and shops, then ended up doing a BA in Graphics and Advertising, and by the second year I got my first piece published in the NME, which is when I went ‘pro’. I wanted to do record sleeves so I figured if I drew enough bands one would hire me to do their graphics. That paid off and the year I moved to Hackney in East London (where I still live)  I worked on the Fat Of The Land album for the Prodigy. That was 20 years ago.


How did you develop a love for making art?

I think it was just hardwired. I had a Yellow Submarine poster on my wall when I was tiny. I don’t remember not being conscious that someone had made it. I could recognize the Batman and Planet Of The Apes logos well before I could read and my mum says I was always happy entertaining myself making things. I think all small children enjoy drawing, unfortunately at some point they often get self conscious and stop doing it. But I was lucky, everyone always encouraged me – parents, friends, school teachers – so I just kept going.


What techniques do you use?

I have many styles. Drunken Monkey Style, Praying Mantis Style and the special technique of Shaolin. (That bit reads better if you do it in a 70s dubbed Hong Kong martial arts movie voice.)


Which work are you most proud of, and why?

That’s a difficult one. Part of me is proud that I’ve not jacked it all in and got a proper job. Part of me is still gobsmacked that I’ve done so much work for Lucasfilm over the years. The fact that George Lucas owns some of my original art is crazy. I wrote and drew Peter O’Toole’s obituary for The Observer. My mum’s got that one framed. Forget that it was me, but I was proud that a full page comic ran as an obituary in a national paper. That felt like ‘one’ for British comics.


What’s the story behind one or more of the works in this gallery?

Hellraisers is the graphic novel I made with biographer Robert Sellers and it’s published by SelfMadeHero. It’s a drunken rollercoaster ride through the lives of actors Richard Burton, Peter O’Toole, Richard Harris and Oliver Reed (hence why I got to do the Observer obit). It’s got cameos by Michael Caine, Marlon Brando, Audrey Hepburn and everybody else in Hollywood that they either charmed or chinned.And the Hellraisers beer was a fun spin off we did last year with North Brewing Co. I really enjoyed designing beer packaging. We had a launch as part of ThoughtBubble festival in Leeds at Ok Comics/ TallBoys which are based in a Victorian arcade. At the end of the night, there was trashed beer cans everywhere which made the illustrated characters on the cans look drunk.


Remember, our 3×3 tatagallery is refreshed every month. Catch our latest one here.

Or see more of JAKe’s work here.