Most artists move on from their childhood drawings to more mature designs - but for one street artist, the transformation was done in reverse.
While he’s always been creative, the graphic designer James Carter of Midnight Industries went from still life and realism to what he describes as “a naïve, childlike style.”
“I try and draw stuff from how it looks in my mind, without reference. I don’t think about how it should look like but focus on how I remember it," he explains.
“The only time I worked with reference, people said my designs looked aggressive. I never want it to be aggressive, I want my work to be as inclusive as possible. It’s a simple concept with thought behind it.”
Pictured: James went from still life and realism to what he describes as “a naïve, childlike style.”
While he went into graphic design “to get that perfect finish and control every degree", James was interested in street art. However, it wasn’t until he went to the University of Creative Arts in Kent that he finally got to spray some walls.
“I had no access to street art growing up. My friends at university asked me if I wanted to try. We used to paint together in Essex, there was a two-mile long wall. Behind us was the Thames, it was absolutely beautiful,” James recalls.
“We would bring barbecues and just spend the day painting there.”
Pictured: James painted a mural in the new police headquarters.
James never really left the cans behind and has since left his mark on the island’s walls with a number of murals – including a giant ice cream cone in Rue de Funchal.
He hasn’t let go of his desire for perfection either, and still strives to achieve “the crisp, clean result you get with a computer” on the wall. “I try to achieve the same finish with something that is essentially volatile,” he explains. “I just love the scale of it.”
All of James murals start from a sketch on his iPad, which he then ‘freehandedly’ scales up to any size, -a process he describes as “satisfying but challenging". “I just love the scale of it,” he says, smiling.
Video: A time-lapse of James' creating his mural at Springfield School.
While James’ latest mural blends once again his penchant for childlike designs and precision, it also has a special story behind it.
It was painted as part of Skipton School Mural Project, produced by ArtHouse Jersey. The project saw 15 artists run workshops with the island’s children to develop a series of murals in local schools in a bid to inspire the younger generation to get creative.
At Springfield School, James talked about character design and asked the children to come up with their own characters. “We discussed how every idea is a good idea and how there’s no boundary to your imagination.”
Pictured: James's mural features unlikely characters, imagined by children.
The result of the workshop is a group of unlikely characters – including a robot cat, a potato, a rabbit breathing fire and a bag of crisps - which James has now etched on the wall for everyone to enjoy.
“I have enjoyed every step of the process,” James says. “I was blown away by how untainted their imagination is. It was amazing! I loved looking through them!”
“It was great to see how they were all so interested,” James adds. “They were genuinely enthusiastic. Inspiring kids to be creative is so rewarding.”
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