Thursday, June 23, 2016

James Jarvis: Inspired By Portland

Illustrator James Jarvis helped Portland celebrate Go Skateboarding Day with an art show at Wieden + Kennedy inspired by Portland's skate scene. I braved the GSD crowds to see the show in person and get a t-shirt and zine. Proceeds from the sales go to help build more skateparks in town. As a long time James Jarvis fan I thought this show was a good excuse to get in touch and see how the show came about.

I first took note of James Jarvis' work in an MTV station ID. Watching it, I could tell a true skater was behind it. After a little research I found Jarvis to be a full on skate nerd who had been involved in the British skate scene for ages. Jarvis is an avid consumer of skate media and his Instagram feed is a place where he shares, on occasion, his interpretation of the most meaningful tricks of the day.

How did this project come about?

An old friend who works at Wieden+Kennedy asked me if I’d like to work on something with them for Go Skateboarding Day. We did talk about my coming out to Portland but because the event was planned as a fundraiser for Portland skateboarding we decided it would be a better use of the budget to make the show remotely.

Have you ever been to Portland?

I’ve visited a few times. I really love it. It seems like a very ‘real’ city, if that makes sense. I like the mixture of old and new, the natural and the constructed. It functions on a human scale.

Have you skated Portland?

I haven’t. My skating prowess doesn’t extend to much more than pushing around these days.

Where did you draw inspiration for these pieces? 

I’m familiar with a few of the classic Portland spots from following skate media. A lot came from talking with Garret at W+K. Obviously Burnside is the classic Portland spot, but I tend to get more inspired by ‘real’ street; those random locations that are given a new identity through skating.

What did you think of first when asked to create art inspired by Portland skateboarding?

We talked about my coming to Portland to make some location drawings at classic Portland spots, similar to what I did for my Objects In Space show a few years ago. I also considered just making and showing some simple drawings In the end we decided on making more reductive graphics that would lend themselves to reproduction, based on an A-Z of Portland skateboarding.

What other cities are ripe for this kind of project?

Making drawings about a place is a really meaningful way of interacting with and making sense of a city (just like skateboarding). Looking at a place through how it has been interpreted by skateboarding gives you a unique, left-field perspective on that place. The beauty of skateboarding (and drawing) is that this can happen anywhere and everywhere.

Go see the show at Wieden + Kennedy. While you're there, grab a t-shirt and zine in support of Portland Skateparks. If you can't make it to the show, you can see all the illustrations here. See more of my favorite James Jarvis pieces over at the Mostly Skateboarding Tumblr.

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