getting to know the enemy: James Jean

James Jean "dive" 2007

It’s no secret that a lot of the artists I admire deal with themes of childhood in their work. Not the super saccharine Disney-fied version of childhood, but the dirty, gritty Grimms fairytale variety – where it is possible for your parents to abandon you, to climb magic beanstalks, to fall down rabbit holes and (if you are brave) to befriend walking, talking beasties.

James Jean "weep" 2004

You know, the one you & I lived through where happily-ever-after might happen, but only after a whole lot of other more sinister and terrifying things. James Jean, armed with a paintbrush, pencil and suite of graphic design applications, produces with dizzying accuracy the swirl of emotion that is the journey through our formative years.

I found his book of postcards XOXO: hugs and kisses in a comic book shop in Fairbanks, Alaska, shortly after visiting an exhibition of MC Escher original works at the Portland Art Museum in 2009, and found some startling similarities and a lot of material for my research on photography and optical illusions.

James Jean "8-bit Q" 2007

8-bit Q was a significant influence for my photograph chimera’s ball. I am endlessly intrigued by the way in which this image has no right way up. Looking at it from any direction has it’s own rewards, and little details try to convince me that it must go this way. It goes it’s own way. A confounding puzzle.

The poster “Fall Into Reading” made for the 2007 West Hollywood Book Fair was enormously inspirational and influential for the photograph I’ve just finished. Particularly (obviously) the boy reading, floating on his own brainstorm at the bottom left. Mr Jean, if you ever see this, Thank You & I hope you approve.

James Jean "Fall Into Reading" 2007

getting to know the enemy: alice blanch

Alice Blanch has a blog that I think is just so clever, I’m going to do some appropriating. She keeps an online introduction to photographers whose work she admires titled getting to know the enemy. Such a smart way to introduce brilliant, covetous work. Given that I plan to *ahem* borrow the idea as a topic category for this blog (geez I hope that’s ok with you Alice?) I think it’s only fair that she’s the first ‘enemy’ I introduce you to. Plus, her work is amazing.

Alice Blanch - Box Brownie Panorama
Alice Blanch - Box Brownie Panorama
Alice Blanch - Box Brownie Panorama
Alice Blanch - Box Brownie Stills
Alice makes absolutely swoon-worthy images. I love her unconventional use of old box brownie cameras. Her artistic vision is dark and romantic and peppered with little photography asides. Somehow the work never feels nostalgic – more like a dream we might have shared, rather than a faded memory.

You might also be interested to know that Alice is a radical crafter, makes the sweetest wheat-bag friends, and never holds back in giving her opinion which is often insightful and straight from the heart (big love for that last one). Also, unless I’ve managed to upset her by stealing her excellent idea, we’re going to do a swap! I think one of the best things about being a creative person is swapping work with other artists. It would be even better if I could front the cold, hard, cash. True.