Artist interviews - a new feature on Animetion where we speak to artists influenced by manga and facets of Japanese culture. 

For our sixth interview we speak to Bristol-based artist Jess Bradley, who has worked with fellow UK artist/t-shirt producers Genki Gear contributing several designs for their clothing ranges.  Some of those designs have been worn by actors on the hit TV show The I.T. Crowd

Jess regularly attends UK comic shows and is available for commissions. 

Animetion:  How long have you been drawing/been an artist?

Jess: "Since I was a kid; I always wanted to do something creative when I grew up and spent a lot of time drawing growing up.  I've got loads of stapled comics drawn in biro kicking around which are really embarrassing.  I really should scan and blog them!"

Animetion: How long have you been a professional artist?

"I'd say since I left university in 2003; I've had some fits and starts in-between but the last three years have been awesome in terms of comic conventions and commissioned work."

Animetion: What/who inspires you?

Jess:  "Where to start! Guy Davis, Jon Burgerman, Jamie Smart, Video Games, Japanese culture, Japanese character design, cryptozoology, comics, Ugly Doll, San-X, Nintendo, science, animals - it's a long list!"

Animetion: What influences have you drawn from Japanese culture in your work?

Jess: "I first started to get into anime and manga when I was about twelve, back in 1992 and there wasn't a lot about.  The Guyver was on the Sci-Fi Channel a fair bit and I pretty much started drawing my own character which was a complete rip-off of it!  Getting into manga and anime opened the way for my interest in Japanese culture.  Since then though, artists like Junko Misuno, Taiyo Matsumoto, Junji Ito and Hideshi Hino have been favourites of mine.  I love the films of Satoshi Kon and was absolutely gutted to hear he'd died not long back.  I'm also a huge fan of Japanese character design in general and love the fact that most packaging in Japan has a character on it.  Japanese folklore and tradition inspires me a lot too; it's such a rich culture.  I went to Japan in 2007 and it was amazing; I can't wait to go back!"

Animetion: Do you concentrate on one theme in your work or several?

Jess: "I guess the underlying theme of most of my work is humour; if people giggle when they see my work, then that's enough for me!  I have recurring elements more than I do themes; anyone who knows my work will notice I have a bit of a thing for robots, squid, radishes and ghosts!" 

Animetion: who are your favourite artists and why?

Jess: "There are way too many to mention but I love David Horvath's work (the creator of Ugly Dolls and Bossy Bear).  He has such a recognisable style and everything he draws turns to gold!"

Animetion: what has been your proudest moment as an artist?

"I'd say the one that stands out at the moment is when one of my Genki Gear t-shirt designs was on The I.T. Crowd!"

Animetion: what has been your worst moment as an artist?

Jess: "Whenever I see someone using my artwork without permission.  It doesn't take much to ask in an email and I usually say yes anyway!"

Animetion: have your collaborations with Genki Gear helped reached a new audience?

"Genki Gear have been awesome to work with and they always pimp my designs!  The reaction my tees get at comic conventions is brilliant; a lot of people who buy them have never seen my work and if they happen to pass my table and recognise something, they get really excited.  It's nice that the designs stand out on their own and are bought by people of all ages."

Animetion: what other artists have you collaborated with?

"I've done a couple of comics for Jamie Smart's Fat Chunk anthology which has been great; he's such a lovely guy and so productive.  He's also very modest which makes me admire him even more!  I've worked with Kings of Neon on designs for trainers and I'm currently collaborating with a Spanish company called Vinyler who are producing some huge wall decals of my work."

Animetion: what is Milk Town and what is your vision for it?

"Milk Town is somewhere I could finally put a lot of the random characters I've created!  Whereas a lot of my work is very stand-alone, I wanted to make something that could be expanded and worked into various media like books, merchandise etc.  I'm currently working up a proposal for a series of Milk Town children's books.  I like to think it's a cross between Mr. Men and Stoppit and Tidyup!  I used to love books like the Beatrix Potter books, Mr. Men and the Dr. Seuss library that had a billion books you could collect.  I'd love Milk Town to be the same.  It's just full of weird and wonderful characters that could end up having a lot of odd little adventures!"

Animetion: we note that are working on a trading card game, what plans to you have for this?

Jess: "I've been wanted to make trading cards for ages and finally figured out a not-too-expensive way to do it. At comic conventions, 

I've noticed that people like to buy lots of small, affordable things rather than spend a lot of money on one big thing. I figured that trading cards are small, cheap and quirky as well as very collectable. It wont be so much a game than it is collectable and affordable artwork! I'm also trying to figure out a way to put a stick of bubblegum into each packet too just like Garbage Pail Kid stickers used to have!"

Animetion: why are your represented as a bulb of garlic on your website (under about me)?

"Ha ha ha! It's not because I smell like garlic!  I actually don't know - that wasn't a conscious decision!  I think it was just an image to fit in with the "menu" theme.  I usually draw myself as an animal or something weird as I hate drawing myself as I really look.  If I do I tend to take liberties and draw myself as I wish I looked!"

Animetion: what materials do you use?

"When I have enough time, I love painting.  I mainly use acrylics which, back when I was a student, I absolutely hated as they were too thick and dried too quickly.  In recent years however, I've become a total convert and use them all the time.  I love how solid and versatile they are.  I work much more quickly in pen, ink and digital colouring though which means I only really paint for specific commissions or if I have a large block of free time.  For each painting I do, I can get about ten digital images done!"

Animetion: do you have a dream project?

"I would love to have the chance to design a range of vinyl toys. To have a small army of my characters in 3D would be amazing!"

Animetion: what tips would you give to a budding artist?

"Don't give up; as hard going as it seems, it's totally worth it when your work gets noticed and people start to react to it."

Animetion: which events do you regular attend on a professional basis?

"I can usually be found at several cons throughout the UK, hyper on Lucozade and very little sleep.  The main ones I frequent are The Web and Mini Comix Thing, The Bristol International Comic Expo, MCM Expo, BICS and Thoughtbubble."

(click any thumbnail for a larger image)

All images are displayed here with the kind permission of Jess Bradley

Jess Bradley Illustration
Squid Bits Blogspot
Milk Town
Jess Bradley on deviantART
Jess Bradley Illustration Facebook fan page