The Profile of James Paterson
What are you working on? I was away for three months in New Zealand on an extended surfing – drawing trip and filled a couple of sketchbooks. I have been back for a couple of weeks so far and am just sifting through all of the new material and making stuff out of it.
I am trying to approach my process differently. My usual approach is to think of a project that will take months or years to complete and then wade through a never-ending marshland of monotony and boredom. You know the saying 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration? The outcome is usually exciting and positive for me, but the process drives me mad, and bored.
Instead of doing what I’ve always done, I have been trying a lot of mini-projects that can each be completed in about a day. I wake up in the morning and spend about an hour thinking about the mission of the day. Then I just get down to making it happen and try as hard as I can to finish it in one go. If I don’t finish it then I just store it away as a ‘nearly complete’ work and move on to another one the next day.
A lot of these ‘day projects’ have been animation, and some have been technology sketches. I really like what has been coming out so far.
Do you have any set goals for this work or are you just interested in the creative process? What has been the result? My goal is to not allow myself to get into routine based work. I have a habit of creating formulas in my process and getting locked into them for long periods. The work reflects this and has a stiffness and stagnancy that I am getting picky about. Instead, I am trying to just let my drawings lead me wherever they want to go, whether or not that direction fits into some comfort zone in my process. It is a bit scary because every morning when I sit down to a project I am not sure whether I am going to be able to pull it off because it may be all new to me. I have yet to have one flop though! It just takes more active focus and less monotonous grind.
I also have a bit of an umbrella goal to use this new work as material for some sort of song based animation(s). Not sure what or how yet, but it will probably end up going there. The stuff that has been coming out of it so far has been really light, positive, and quirky. A lot of it has been inspired by the incredible environments of New Zealand and the experiences I had while I was there.
Are you taking a break from client driven work then? How do you think your experimentation crosses over into client generated work? Yes, I am taking a break from client-driven work for now. I had more than I was comfortable with last year and am trying to give myself a chance to make stuff that I really care about now. I make projects for myself and release them on Presstube, and then that personal work acts like a net to snare the interest of potential clients; then I get job offers. That seems to be the cycle. The best thing to do if I have no money is to make as much stuff for myself as I can and just forget about trying to directly get clients. It works much better to set bait with personal work and just let them come to me. That way the client projects I end up doing are based on personal work that I am really excited about instead of some diluted commercial Frankenstein that I made for someone else. That is why I post no commercial work on PT. Generally the only place to see a Presstube made TV spot is on TV and I kind of like it that way.
Your work has been showing up often in the art world this past year. What do you think or hope this next year (2007) will bring you? I would like to say goodbye once and for all to commercial work and just focus on self-initiated projects from now on. I hope this is the year I will be able do it, but who knows.
What is your greatest dream? That is a difficult question to answer; I adore my job and lifestyle and could hardly ask for more. Having a mini-ramp in my studio would be pretty good. Being as good a parent as my parents would also be high on the list.
Have you ever shopped for reptiles? Do you think that if you listen to heavy metal that your chance would be higher to own a reptile? I have never shopped for reptiles, but I used to frequent a reptile shop in an old neighborhood I lived in. They had a really good selection of strange creatures. It smelled really bad and I would try not to breath through my nose. One day it burnt down with all the animals in it though, which I thought was sad. Crispy! I do listen to heavy metal and I still haven’t bought a reptile, so my answer to that second question is no.
About James Paterson
James Paterson is a visual artist who also works as an illustrator, broadcast & web designer. Paterson’s unique synthesis of drawing, animation and programming have attracted the attention of a variety of galleries and clients worldwide. His personal and collaborative works have been shown at the London Design Museum, The London Institute of Contemporary Arts, The Pompidou Center in Paris, The Museum of Contemporary Arts in Taipei, The Seoul Metropolitan Museum of Art, biforms in NYC, The Sundance Film festival, and The Israeli Art Museum. He has also done commercial work for clients such as Nike, Burton, Bjork, VH1, Deisel, HP, Apple, Sony & Target. Paterson’s work exist online at two primary sites: Presstube.com (his personal space), and Insertsilence.com (the space dedicated to his collaborative work with Amit Pitaru of Pitaru.com). James was born in England, but has been in Canada since 1988. He currently lives and works in Montreal.