Close Up Interview with Comic Artist James Mathurin

Tell us a little about yourself and what you do.

I’m a Londoner, living in Sydney. I wear a lot of hats: I work at a local high school with children with learning and behaviour issues, I’m a new dad, and I’m an artist. My art is a mixture of photography, traditional illustration, graphic design and digital art.

Where do you get your inspiration from when you paint?

I have always been a massive nerd, so a lot of my inspiration comes from comics, animation and games. I love linking visual ideas to social and political issues in real life, so sometimes something in the news or on a science podcast will give me an idea, or I will use those ideas to establish a narrative that ties my images together.

Dancers 29 x 39 cm, Lithograph $260

Tell us about your very first job and what path have you taken since then?

My first job? That was working in the cafeteria under the windmill on Wimbledon Common. Apart from reading comics on my lunchbreak, and getting weird looks when I mentioned I’d had a great Saturday night because I’d inked a picture I’d been working on, it hasn’t had much to do with my path since then. I moved through a few different jobs, and using my art in them has led to where I am now: I made adverts for the bar I worked in, and when I moved into education I would do artwork to go with the lessons, and as rewards for children I was working one-to-one with. I’ve drawn some comic pages in collaboration with students, and made comic art tutorials for them, and I run a weekly comic-book club, where I hopefully encourage a few of them to have a go at creating their own comics. My art has been something I worked on purely for the joy of it, and Artshine and the Sydney Comics Guild have allowed me to start sharing it with more people, leading up to this show.

How do you usually plan your daily activities?

Normally, with the day job and parenthood, my plan involves squeezing in a bit of time in between getting home, doing Dad stuff and other duties. When I’m getting towards a deadline, I realise how lucky I am, as everyone around me steps up, and lets me basically split my time between my day job and working on my art.

As an artist, what is your biggest frustration?

As you might have guessed, my biggest frustration is probably time management, but I still wouldn’t give up any of the other things that take my time, so I’ll just keep making it work.

Battle of the lane 29 x 39 cm, Lithography $350  

How did ArtSHINE Business coaching help you and your art business?

ArtSHINE Business coaching have helped me with a lot of practical advice on how to promote my work, and avenues that could turn it from a hobby into something bigger. They’ve given me advice on things from how to redesign the look of my website, to workshops on licensing and residual income, aspects of art business I’d had absolutely no prior experience with. They’ve given me lots of support, encouragement, and constructive critical feedback, as an artist.

Profile Pic of Sarah Bernhardt. 30 x 30 cm

Pencil, Indian Ink and marker on paper. $260  

How do you connect with other artists, and your customers (i.e. how do you network)?

ArtSHINE had been a big help in connecting with other artists, especially with their competitions and events. The Sydney Comic Guild is also great for networking. Social media like facebook and tumblr are also really good ways to make connections.

Croydon Wanderers 29 x 39 cm, Lythography $350

Your advice to artist who are just starting out?

I think that promoting yourself can be really difficult when you’re starting out. Even if you feel confident in your work, talking about it in Artist Statements and descriptions can feel embarrassing, and maybe a bit pretentious. I would say to still go for it: If you feel your work is good enough to share, it’s good enough to talk about, and to promote.

Tell us about your upcoming group Art exhibition at ArtSHINE Gallery?

Girija and I were joint winners of ArtSHINE’s ‘Celebrate Diversity’ competition, which is how we came to be putting on this show. As we talked it over, trying to find a common theme, whether with subject matter or technique, we found that we were looking at and doing different things at every level: Where she looks at nature and the real world, I’m interested in science and fantasy; where Girija’s work has beautiful colours and traditional technique, mine is based in linework, and digital / mixed -media approaches; Girija’s work speaks for itself, while I link mine together to spin stories. Considering that, and the fact that one of the tffhings that we do have in common is having come to Sydney from overseas, “Different Worlds” was a natural title for the show. I took that title and applied it to some of my work, to make collections that show fantastic alternate histories, where intelligent machines were living alongside people from the 19th Century onwards, where refugees from other dimensions escaped to modern Sydney to live and work alongside us, or where superheroes confront robots and strange creatures on city streets.

Lady 39 x 29 cm, Lythography $350 

What is your proudest moment so far?

My proudest moment so far has probably been helping to organise group shows, and seeing people enjoy my work, and engage with the ideas in it.

Who do you most want to meet and why?

Although I talked with him online and even got a birthday present from him once, I never got to meet one of my creative heroes, the writer Dwayne McDuffie, in person. His work in comics and animation is a huge part of why I started trying to express myself artistically, and still influences me greatly, particularly the way he filled his work with insightful meta-commentary on race, politics and history.

Gentleman 39 x 29 cm, lithography  $350  

What is the most important lesson in life that you have learned?

That it is alright to make mistakes, as long as you learn from them, that it is alright to fail, as long as you still try to do the right thing, and that it is alright to be scared, as long as you don’t give in to your fear.

What book are you reading right now, and do you have a book you would like to recommend?

I recently finished Going Postal by Terry Pratchett, which was as good, and as insightful as his Discworld books tend to be. I could recommend any number of great comics and graphic novels, but one which has writing and art so beautiful that it can always cheer me up is Xombi by John Rozum and Frazer Irving. It has moments of heartbreak and pure joy, and the art and words combine to tell a story in a way that neither could on their own.

The Office 29 x 39 cm, Lithography 

Where do we find you and your art and products? (list stores & links, websites)

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About The Author

I am a Business LifeStyle coach who specialises in working with artists, designers, crafters and all creative professionals. Myself and my partner Stuart Horrex are here to help you to achieve your Life & business goal and dreams. We have had over 20 years experience in finance, retail,furniture,food,wine fashion,crafts and hospitality.

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