This week we’re celebrating creativity with Jack Hughes! We’re currently featuring his amazing, glamorous 50s/60s illustrations and we’re more than happy to have him on board here on Kuvva. However, to introduce him to the rest of the community, we invited Jack to answer some of our questions to pull down that mysterious shroud around him and reveal the artist behind this week’s set!
Hi Jack, let’s start off by asking how your day is so far?
Hello! I’m good, sent off a final to a client that was very happy with it, got my hair cut – prepping it for the man-bun / samurai look, it’s going to look awesome.
You probably hear this a lot, but do you like Mad Men?
Yes, of course I do! Although I’ve only watched up to mid-season 4 three times! I get frightened at how quickly I watch each episode in rapid succession, and I know it’ll have to eventually come to an end, and I just don’t want that to happen. Strange I know, I’ll probably start from season 1 again sometime soon and work my way back up, perhaps this time all the way to season 5.
If so, who’s your favourite character?
I don’t have one favourite character, but since I’ve only seen up to season 4 there are definitely a handful of favourites. Peggy is amazing, but is only as good a character as long as Don is around, another favourite; Peggy and Don are my favourite pairing. Roger and Pete are brilliant too; it’s nice to see the characters develop in a believable manner all the way from the pilot episode. Joan is a favourite too, for obvious reasons! She was great in Drive.
Anyhow, we’re very happy to have you on board on Kuvva. Great response so far! However, could you tell us a little story about yourself?
Well. I was born in August 1989 just outside of Croydon, which is South London, although not a lot of people recognize Croydon as London … to be honest I can understand why, it’s not that nice a place. I’m 22, and I’ve been freelance for just under a year now. I left university last summer and haven’t looked back.
Where did your illustration career begin? Were you always so passionate about drawing?
Went to an all-boys Roman Catholic school, which wasn’t great, but it could have been worse, they weren’t so hot on art, a lot of the focus was on rugby and ‘serious’ subjects. I then went on to study an art Foundation Degree at Wimbledon College of Art, which was to date possibly the best year of my life, really changed my perceptions of art and what it is to be an artist. After that, I was then fortunate enough to be accepted onto the Illustration & Animation course at Kingston University. My time at Kingston was rocky, had my fair share of highs and lows (mostly lows), I’m not sure the teaching was best suited to my style or what I wanted to achieve; there was a lot of emphasis on traditional working methods and print. Which in hindsight was probably beneficial in the long run, I did enjoy printmaking actually, especially when I could make something more out of the prints. I do miss making things.
Can you remember the first drawing you ever made?
I’ve been asked this question before I do think I could recall then either. I remember copying covers from my extensive Disney VHS collection, and if I wasn’t doing that then I was probably drawing scenes of horrible destruction; car and train crashes, people being shot, monsters eating people. I had a turbulent childhood, heh … I think that explains a lot about me today.
How would you best describe your style? Was this something you developed over the years?
My current style wasn’t my intention, it just happened, but I’m glad it did because I like working and thinking this way. I’m now at a stage where everything more or less comes naturally to me. My work in education was always evolving, I had a brief stint at collage and it’s still something I’d like to get back into or at least adapt it with my current style. I also used to draw and paint a lot and screen print too, all the time actually. Now everything I do is digital, but I like it this way, less hassle, more control. I still draw though, that’s not a talent I want to lose altogether.
You’ve really got that 50s/60s going on, especially with most of your works. What is your fascination with that era?
Mid-century aesthetics are amazing, I’m always in awe of them, probably explains my Mad Men obsession, everything just looks so considered and nice. The furniture, the colours, the clothes, the illustration and type, I sometimes wish I lived in that era, but then I forget they didn’t have Photoshop and I quickly reconsider.
Can you tell us more about your creative process? For instance, where do you begin?
Everything starts its life on a page in my sketchbook, I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, my sketchbook is horrific. It’s not one of those lovely, considered, beautifully scanned sketchbooks you see over the internet on trendy blogs (although I did try my hand at making nice sketchbook pages and it just wasn’t me). It’s a sketchbook that serves a function. After that I’ll draw my concept again and again to try and get down on paper exactly what the image is saying. Then either photograph references myself or relentlessly hunt them down on the internet (there are lots of semi-nude photographs of myself in questionable positions on my hard-drive, ahem). Once I’ve collected all the references I need, I’ll piece them together to create a sort of bride of Frankenstein-esque model and go from there; spamming paths and gradients and textures in Photoshop for hours and hours.
What are some of your essential tools to create your art with?
I’m somewhat controversial in working solely on a PC! I’m sure most will be shocked and stunned at how anyone can produce anything on something as abhorrent as a PC, but somehow I do! But in all seriousness I like PCs and I like Macs as well (I have an iPhone), probably worth mentioning that I built my PC from scratch several years ago, so I have this bond with it, I feel like its mother. I also don’t use a stylus as often as I possibly should, double controversy!
Are there any works on Kuvva you are specifically proud of?
I don’t like to blow my own trumpet, but I am particularly proud of the man and whiskey image, it’s the cover illustration for the cocktail book I recently finished. That was the project that enabled me to be totally obsessive with the 1950’s and get away with it. I watched a lot of Mad Men during that period. And drank a fair share of whiskey too!
Are there other things you are passionate about besides Illustration?
I enjoy music, a lot. I’m always in awe of good graphic design as well. I like to think I was a graphic designer in a previous life, on my Foundation Degree I very nearly did choose to go down the graphic design path, but my tutors insisted that my talents laid elsewhere and I guess they were right?
What tickles your creativity?
Music is definitely important to me; all-time favourite artists are probably Broadcast and Boards of Canada, although I’m always trying to listen to new music. Current playlist includes Beach House, alt-J and Hot Chip. I try to find the time to read as well, recently read In Cold Blood by Truman Capote which was mind blowing, I also really enjoyed Rosemary’s Baby (one of my favourite films!) by Ira Levin, The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald and Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (lots of different genre’s there!). Currently reading The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, everyone should read it, even the theists. As for designers, my good friend Charlotte Heal is amazing, she taught me on Foundation and was my main source for inspiration, I was lucky enough to work with her on the cocktail book. My favourite illustrators at the moment are definitely Patrick Ledger, Andrew Archer and Daniel Stolle!
Any art heroes – dead or alive – you’d love to be a sidekick of?
I’ve always enjoyed Aubrey Beardsley’s work, shame he died so young. Being his apprentice or even sidekick (makes him sound like a super hero?) would have been incredible.
Got any essential tips for beginning illustrators out there?
Don’t get disheartened, I spent pretty much all three years of my art degree disheartened. Some tutors are intense and incredibly critical, but in the long run they’re doing you a favour. Freelancing can be tough, keep at it and push yourself, get your work out everywhere, get an agent, stay positive, exercise and eat healthy.
Have you got any running or upcoming projects that you want to tell us about?
I’m so used to talking about the cocktail book but I finally finished it! It should be out soon so that’s something to look forward to, massive cocktail party round mine to celebrate! Also getting my website redesigned so can’t wait to unveil that, generally, things are looking positive.
Kuvva Feature by Jack Hughes
This week we’re featuring Jack Hughes’ illustrations! You can grab a hold of them here and visually awesome up your desktop or Twitter profile!
Jack Hughes Official Website: Jack-hughes.com