Published in Whitelines Magazine Issue 93, December 2010
Mr Jago is something of a Bristol institution. As well as exhibiting regularly, his work adorns walls, garage doors and shop shutters around the city. Alongside other local artists (like Brangelina’s favourite Banksy) he’s contributed to Bristol’s reputation as something of a Mecca for ‘alternative’ culture – a reputation which he cites as “a definite reason” for him deciding to move there as a student in ’92. As well as brightening up his adoptive home, Mr Jago’s work has also featured on a number of products, including this year’s Endeavor Live. We caught up with him to discuss his background, his working methods and his love of robots. How did you get into art? Do you have any formal artistic training?
My mum was very good at art and ever since I was a nipper she has encouraged me to draw. I did that all the way through school and then ended up doing a degree in illustration.
Do you snowboard yourself?
I have been, but only three times. Great fun, but nothing technical. You’ve done some snowboard graphics before right? How did you get into it? It was just one of those cases when you are approached by a client and asked to do a design. I love the format of a snowboard. It’s just a lovely shape and size to cover.
Do you take a different approach to working on a snowboard to a regular piece?
Not with my recent collab with Endeavor. I was busy painting canvases in that style. Max [Jenke, Endeavor head honcho] saw the possibilities of applying the art onto a board and the whole thing took off from there. I’m very happy with the way it all turned out.
What’s the idea behind the Live graphic – is it themed round anything in particular or is it pretty abstract?
The theme of the paintings I was making at that time, and the one that appeared on the board, were based around the idea of man against nature. Although they’re abstract, I start with characters within a landscape and then fill/mask them with gas or smoke. A byproduct maybe of industry or human fallout. So what or who was the inspirations behind the board graphic? Filthy humans.
“The inspiration behind the board graphic? Filthy humans.”
What are the inspirations behind your art in general?
You do/did a fair amount of graffiti right? Is that still a major part of your work? I’m not sure I could say it is strictly graffiti. I love painting full stop, and there is nothing more fun than having a large wall to make a mess on! I have been influenced by some of the graffiti greats but couldn’t say that I am quite from the same place. Most of my walls are legal and I don’t do them nearly enough to call myself a graffiti artist.
Bristol’s got a reputation for being a bit of a centre for music, skating and street art. Do you think living around there has an affect on the way your work has developed? Is there like ‘a scene’ as such that you feel part of?
There is definitely a strong social scene when it comes to people trying to develop their artwork/music/passions. It’s no hippy commune but I think expression is accepted and encouraged – people look out for each other. Hopefully it’s not too cliquey though.
All your work looks pretty abstract – has it always been like that, or is that a style you developed over time?
In the beginning I used to do a lot more drawing. I doodled constantly, mostly in biro. I then took this into the digital realm and manipulated it on a mac. Robots featured heavily. Through messing around with paint the work has eventually become more and more abstract, even though the original characters are still in there. I think less of them as robots nowadays but more as future humans. If you squint you may be able to spot them.
With this board, does the fact that the painting is part of a practical functioning product change its meaning?
I guess so. The image itself is edited – you are only seeing a segment. The piece itself still means the same thing to me, and the fact that it ends up on a mountain fits with me – we [as people] are everywhere.
Finally, can you see any overall trends in snowboard graphics? What do you expect to see from board graphics (yours or other people’s) in the future?
I can’t really comment too much on that as I don’t check what’s going on often enough when it comes to trends in graphics. However it seems to me that the print process has come on leaps and bounds in the last few years, so the possibilities are endless.
See more of Mr Jago’s work at mrjago.com