Joe Waldron is part of Futures here at Jelly London. He is best known for his bright, colourful and angular characters, and his ability to incorporate narratives into his illustrations.
Joe has worked with the likes of Vimeo, Wired and The Wall Street Journal, and was recently featured in The Ride Journal’s Art + Bikes Show at Jaguar Shoes.
We spoke to Joe about life as a young illustrator, and discovered who inspires him, and who his dream clients would be.
Tell us a little more about your work, Joe.
My work is very much an extension of myself. I feel super involved with every project that I work on as I’m always thinking about how to connect with the viewer for each piece. Whether it’s an illustration for an article, or something else, I’m always eager for my work to brighten someone’s day, or make them think it’s a cool thing to do/try. I want that connection, even though in most cases I’m blind to the results.
Talk us through the development of your unique and powerful illustrative style.
The style that I’ve developed since leaving University, really originated while I was going through a tough time personally and had to slow everything down. This led to my drawings becoming smaller. I wanted to make my ideas as concise as possible, while also expressing myself visually, as quickly as possible, due to my illness. As I began to get better the characters that I was drawing, and the ideas that I was coming up with, began to grow together as my health improved. I now have a very personal connection with my illustrations and I always try to put a little bit of myself into each project.
What’s a typical day like for you?
Every day is different depending on the projects that I’m working on, or the stage I’m at during a project. I split my time between working at the studio and working from home, often depending on the weather. I always start the day in my sketchbook, playing with ideas and compositions for the piece that I’m working on. This is one of the more enjoyable parts of my day as I get the freedom to play around with all my ideas for a project. Once I feel like I’ve got the right idea for the piece, I’ll put roughs together and send them over to the client. After confirmation from the client, the rest of my day will be spent sketching and putting together the elements for the illustration (usually with Netflix on in the background.) Once these are done I’ll put the work into Photoshop and go from there.
What would be your perfect brief or dream client?
I would love to work on some more animation projects and to have a role during the ideas and writing process. I’m really interested in the narrative aspects of animations as well as the visual.
In terms of dream clients, it would be great to work on a big sports project with Nike or Adidas and have my characters advertise the idea of enhancing performance. I think my style lends itself to the ‘extraordinary.’
What product could you not live without?
I couldn’t live without my Seawhite A4 sketchbook as I’m super particular about the sketchbooks that I use. I think a lot of it comes down to my preference in paper stock and how it feels while I’m drawing. I spend most of my creative time in my sketchbook so it’s nice when things feel ‘right.’
What product hasn’t been invented yet that would make your life/job better?
I’d love to have a glove that made me ambidextrous so I could draw with both hands. I think it would be really cool to work on two separate parts of a project with each hand. It would also make everything soooo much quicker!
What do you listen to whilst working?
That depends on my mood really. Usually I’m listening to/watching old Twilight zone episodes on Netflix while I work, or I’ll put on some Simpsons. If the job is a long one then I’ll listen to an audiobook - I’m currently listening to Metro 2033, which is awesome. I like to a lot of old blues music too.
What’s your favourite snack whilst working?
Difficult to say as it depends on how healthy I’m being at the time, so it could be some dried fruit and nuts, or it could be Maoam Pinballs… They’re pretty much my crack.
What work has inspired you in 2015?
I’ve been really inspired by the work of Herge this year as I’ve just been to Brussels and I’m re-reading my old Tintin comics. I enjoy picking up on all the things that I missed as a child, and discovering the amount of detail and effort that goes into all of his characters (especially during/after The Blue Lotus.)
Which fictitious character do you most relate to?
I’m pretty sure I’m most like the Wile E Coyote. Not in the way that I’m always trying to catch a really fast blue bird (I’m so uncrafty and clumsy I’ve actually given up), but because when I try my hand at DIY, it always backfires! I guess I should start reading the reviews on the Acme website.
If you could have dinner with any well-known figure, dead or alive, who would it be?
Going back to him again, I’d say Herge. It would be amazing to talk to him about his ideas in the Tintin comics, as well as his work outside of the comic world. I’d also try to impress him with my GCSE French… “Je ne peux parler au peu”
Tell us a little-known fact about your work.
I often add little visual messages within my illustrations for people to find, if they look hard enough.