As a BA Illustration student at Falmouth University, Jamie Edler has learnt to develop his own visual style into a coherent, consistent body of work. His technique of often using bold shapes or lines and combining them with washed out palettes is distinctive of Jamie’s aesthetic; his subject matter often taps on the doors of bold topics with a tongue-in-cheek humour. After living and working in China for a period of time before heading off to university, the exposure to asian artists has certainly seeped into his work and influenced a number of his projects. We spoke to Jamie to learn more about his university experience, his valuable lessons as an emerging illustrator and his future projects in the pipeline.
I knew for a long time that I wanted to study Illustration – or at least take it further. In fact that’s a little bit of a lie, for a while I was torn between Illustration and Graphic Design – simply because both are things that I’m interested in and although I ultimately chose Illustration, I try and incorporate a more graphical approach often and enjoy expanding my understanding of the relation between Illustration and Graphics. I chose Falmouth because I was told by my tutor to consider Brighton, Falmouth, Kingston for university but when I visited Falmouth, I fell in love with the place. It really is a beautiful place to live and study – I felt that Falmouth’s approach to illustration also suited myself and my work well, something that would allow me to grow as an illustrator predominately on my own but willing to give me a little push when needed.
Your illustrations have a strong personal style – how would you describe them and how did you develop this style?
Of course for me, it’s not really a style because it’s just how I create my images but if I were to describe them I would say… often they are quite comical and appear light with deeper meaning hidden amongst the humour. I tend to tackle what you’d could call difficult issues such as mental illness or loss and try and make them approachable and easier to talk about. Aesthetically, I try and use bold but often washed out, complimentary colours and I would say I’ve been influenced by Asian artists a fair bit – both traditional and contemporary. In terms of development, I think it was simply natural progression. If you look at a lot of my older work, I’ve always had a certain way of doing and looking at things and drawing which perhaps has been both a help and a hindrance in some cases and I think that simply has developed into a more finite version of how I used to illustrate before.
What projects have you completed on your degree?
On our degree, we tackle various projects, some short and some long, such as story book projects, young audience, editorials and advertising. I think this is great because I fell now, if someone were to give me a brief that perhaps would be new territory for me, I’d be able to respond to it because of the experience I have with the various and often different aspects of Illustration and Design. In second year, I studied a term in Augsburg, Germany which was an interesting change of pace from Falmouth. There, the projects were more catered towards graphic design. I created a ‘Bilderbuch’ whilst I was there about mental illness, in which I wrote the story and illustrated, which was something I really enjoyed!
Did you have a favourite project, or a piece of work you’re most proud of?
I’ve enjoyed many of my projects, but I enjoyed the ‘Bilderbuch’ project. I also enjoyed a project I started in second year and plan to develop in which I created a fictional society that was based on the idea that ‘Together is Better’ – about how the society though that the lack of individuality would lead to a stronger, less distracted and more loyal workforce. I did this through fictional propaganda and advertising, etc. I’m currently working on various book projects that I’m enjoying as well.
I think the piece of work I’m most proud changes. It tends to be the last piece of work I’ve done, which means it changes a lot, since I tend to create a piece of work every day. I think this is because I can see how my work is progressing and developing. This isn’t to say I dislike my old work, just that it’s nice to compare and see how far I’ve come.
What are you currently working on, or what’s next?
As mentioned before, I’m currently working on a few book projects, one for adults about loss, and one for a younger audience and following your dreams; cheesy I know, but it’s fun to play with! I’m also looking at a few live briefs that I might throw myself into soon. As well as this, I end up getting distracted and doing little projects here and now – at the moment, I’m working on a zine based on short little stories I’ve written. I’m also looking at created my own font for personal use!
What do you want to explore or convey in your work?
This is a tricky one… I guess it depends on the topic of the work. I think I enjoy playing with perhaps tricky topics and finding away of conveying them in my work that is visually pleasing but gets to the root of the subject, without being to hard-hitting – not ignoring the topic but making it more approachable. For instance, for a piece on mental illness, I wouldn’t want to avoid the root of the topic but would try and make it more manageable for someone to look and consider. Thought provoking but not shocking.
How has your style and work developed while studying?
I think my style and work has developed pretty naturally, as I say it’s lovely to look at old work and see how far I’ve developed. I think being surrounded by a peer group that are constantly challenging themselves and evolving is a brilliant thing because it helps you move forward as well, especially amongst a supportive network of fellow creatives, all willing to help each other and advise each other. Couple that with the expertise and enthusiasm of the tutors, my study environment has been a very positive and encouraging one!
What has been the most valuable thing you’ve learnt on your degree?
The most valuable thing. Without meaning to sound too cheesy or cliche, it’s definitely self appreciation. Not in a narcissistic way, but in a way that allows myself to step back and look at my work and enjoy and be proud of it. When surrounded by creatives all interested and moving towards the same thing, it’s very easy to be competitive. And I think to some extent, competitiveness is great; it encourages you to throw yourself in the deep end and challenge yourself. But I think it’s important not to compare your work to others around you. You need 5to be able to look at your work and think, ‘That’s my work and I’m proud of it’. That’s not to say you shouldn’t strive to improve but to enjoy your work, means you’ll enjoy creating the work. Your work is personal and that’s a great thing! It’s very easy to think, ‘ah their work is better or more developed than mine’ or ‘I wish I could create a piece like theirs’, but if you do that then it isn’t your own work!
Do you have a dream project for the future?
My dream project would probably be a book project, writing and illustrating, working with a publisher like Nobrow for instance. I think I’d enjoy it and would be the kind of project that would push me and inspire me. In fact any project that would challenge me would be a dream project, I enjoy the pressure of deadlines and the idea of pushing my work to be constantly better than the piece I’ve created before it! Or if I wanted to be realistic, anything that allows me to eat and sleep well at night!
View more of Jamie’s work at cargocollective.com/jamieedler.