An Interview With Artist James Jirat Patradoon For James Week

Welcome to James Week, Pedestrian’s celebration of the best, brightest and most chilled out James’ from across Australia. Why James and not Karl or Barry? Well our good friends at Jameson are looking for Australia’s most easy-going James. If you think that’s you – or if you know one – you should head over to the James Week page and get involved. The James they crown as Australia’s most easy-going will be flown to the Jameson distillery in Ireland and crowned as the Australian Jameson rep.

James Jirat Patradoon
is everywhere you look. He’s testament to the old adage that the harder you work, the luckier you get (and the fact that he’s supremely talented doesn’t hurt either).

His graphic art has taken him out of a day job and across the world where he has grabbed the attention of the likes of Kanye West, The GZA and even Robin Williams (yep as in Mrs Doubtfire and Jumanji).

We recently had a chat to this James as our second James Week installment. And why did we pick James Jirat Patradoon to represent? Probably because while everyone else is complaining about how hard it is to make it as an artist in Australia he’s actually doing it. His simple easy-going tip: “answer emails”.

Pedestrian: Hey James, so you’ve got a work up at the Outpost festival on Cockatoo island can you talk us through it? James Jirat Patradoon: I did a big drawing of Danny Zuko physically becoming disassociated from himself and falling apart, it’s another one of my works based around identity construction and destruction. I wanted to make something that felt like falling asleep or floating in the ocean and seeing your body move away from you.

Last time we spoke to you we featured you in our State of the Art Exhibition. What’s been happening in your world since then? I’ve moved house about three times and went to advertising school, I’m in a creative collective now called Toby and Pete based out of Redfern, which is where I spend all my time now. I’m still making art, I’ve worked on some really awesome illustration briefs, and now I’m making work for a group show in San Francisco in January.

We heard Robin Williams was quite captivated by one of your works when he saw it at the State of the Art exhibition. Robin Williams? Like The Birdcage Robin Williams or Take That Robbie Williams?

As in Mrs Doubtfire I was just watching Birdcage the other night, I love that guy!

Do you have any other celebs (or stalkers) who are into your work? Kanye West posted some of it on his blog years ago and I sold a lot of work as a result, which was awesome. I’m working on something with GZA now, that’s about it I think? Nacho Pop said he liked my stuff once at a party?

Do you know how Kanye discovered your work? My work was doing the rounds on a lot of art/design blogs that month, that’s how most people find my stuff. That’s how I find my favourite artists as well – just scouring the interwebs.

Did someone get in touch with you before posting up your work or did you just notice a spike in sales? My girlfriend at the time found it, she woke me up and was like “OMFG!” It happened right before an exhibition as well so a lot of the work sold out online before the opening, which was awesome.

The GZA project sounds fascinating can you unveil any more details? Not really, it’s very much in it’s formative stages [but] I got to hang out with him when he was here. It was like meeting Batman. He’s super articulate and remembers the lyrics to all his favourite songs, he’s really switched on, and knows EVERYTHING. We were talking about conspiracies theories and the laws of physics.

Since last year you’ve been featured in over a dozen exhibitions that we can remember. What tips do you have for other artists looking for similar success? Always assume your work sucks, keep trying to make things better. Don’t do things just because everyone else is doing it, the weirder the work the better. Answer emails.

Do you think the life of an illustrator such as yourself is more easy-going than most professions or perhaps wrongly perceived as such? I think it’s more about being self employed, anyone who is self employed knows that if they don’t do anything they don’t get paid, there’s no sick leave of holiday pay or a wage or anything. Budgets have shrunk as well, so you kind of need to do twice or three times as much work just to afford to eat or pay rent. I took a job at a call centre over the summer because I missed getting paid and not having to think. It was alright but all I got out of it was money, and that’s all gone now. It was good to have that break though… I don’t know about easy-going, but working for yourself is really satisfying. I’m never late to work, I get to sleep in, but I kind of have to work 12 hours a day 7 days a week – which is alright because I’m mostly just on Facebook or Tumblr anyway.

How long before they let you takeover an entire wall in a very public place? Or has that happened already? All the murals I do are indoors, mostly at ad agencies or restaurants. They take me ages so I try to avoid them if I can. I use a little brush and black paint and an overhead projector. I wouldn’t mind doing a really public wall; I wrote a proposal to do a legal wall in the CBD but it got rejected, which is lucky, because it would have probably been a nightmare. I’d like to learn how to spray paint because it looks fast, but I’m too much of a cheap ass to buy spray paint.

Is working for brands different from working on your own projects or do you attack each project as a separate entity? All the projects are pretty different. Funnily enough I’ve found that the bigger the brand the more freedom I get. They trust what I’m going to do and they just let me do it and in the end everyone’s stoked. I save the more experimental stuff for my own work, when I can make lightning strike twice I’ll start using what I’ve learnt on a client’s work.

We’re interviewing you as part of James Week that we’ve been commissioned to run by Jameson. How’s it been living life called James? Can you give us an insight for all of the non-James’ out there? People keep trying to call me Jimmy or Jim! For some reason James sounds too formal to some people. I like being the only James Jirat Patradoon on Google and it takes up an obnoxiously large space on flyers as well, ha!

Stay tuned for more James week and if you know an easygoing James or you are one don’t forget to head to the James Week page now.

Main image by Jeremy Shaw