Citing pop art and M.C. Escher as inspirations, Brighton-based illustrator Jamie Cullen carves mystifying surrealist scenarios from his inspired mind, with clients like Nike, Coke and Volkswagen lapping them up. The influence of Escher’s impossible constructions and studies of infinity and mathematics are evident in Cullen’s eye-poppingly coloured, intricate designs; whilst elements of classic Britishness and popular culture creep in at any given opportunity.
As we edge closer to the finishing line of our already extended Create GB project, we catch up with Jamie to talk heritage, inspiration, athletics and salt ‘n’ vinegar crisps…
Where’s your hometown, and where are you based now?
I am originally from Hammersmith, West London, now based in Brighton.
Do you think location affects creativity?
Yes, to an extent. My work is very influenced by my environment. However, I believe that artists can take inspiration and be creative in all surroundings, even if they seem uninspiring at first.
Is Britain’s creative industry too London-centric?
Britain’s creative industry is very London-centric. WIth London being our capital and one of the most interesting and inspiring cities in the UK, you can see why. However, by focussing on this particular area too much, we’re not paying enough attention to other cultural centres like Liverpool or Edinburgh.
How would you describe British creativity?
It’s quite difficult to describe British creativity, as there are so many talented artists in this country, whose styles vary on every level. To me, it is a conglomerate of heritage elements (such as the mod symbol or bowling greens); multicultural features representing Britain’s diversity, and a dash of humour.
Has being British had an effect on your discipline?
Very much so, as I reference a lot of things that I consider to be quintessentially British. I draw a lot of inspiration from British music, literature… just British culture in general. At the same time, I am inspired by other cultures and what I see and experience on my travels. Only by stepping out of the UK and looking over the rim of a cup of tea, one can realise what Britishness really means and how it can effect one’s work.
The Swinging ’60s, punk, Hacienda-era Manchester… is there one period of intense British creativity that you’d like to have been a part of, and why?
Every single one of them, as they are all part of what makes up Britishness today. The ’60s have really put British creativity on the map. At some point or another in my career, I have referenced elements from all these periods.
Where in Britain do you feel most inspired?
In some way or another, everywhere I’ve been in Britain serves as inspiration for my work. We’re a country with amazing heritage and culture, that has a lot to offer, be it the Tate Gallery, the tackiness of the English seaside; or a cricket match on the greens.
The top 3 British creatives who have inspired you?
Vivienne Westwood, Hypgnosis Design and The Rolling Stones.
Will you be watching the Olympics?
Definetly! I love athletics, so I will be glued to my seat. I’ve already been caught up in the excitement and the build-up for the Olympics in the past few weeks. Go Team GB!
If creativity was an Olympic sport, who’s the one person you’d want to represent Britain on the global stage?
Which sport would you like to compete in at London 2012?
You couldn’t live without…
My vintage GDR bicycle.
We’re going to the pub and we’re buying, what are you drinking?
Gin and tonic. And while you’re there, some salt and vinegar crisps would be nice.
What’s next for you?
Watching the Olympics, and creating artwork for a Finnish music festival.