Jason Lear is an illustrator and artist working in traditional and mixed media, inspired by fashion, beauty and the people he sees in his day-to-day life. We spoke to Jason about his working processes, sources of inspiration and hopes for a craft rebellion.
What are you working on/what’s preoccupying you at the moment?
At the moment I am doing a bit of freelance print design with a couple of fashion designers. It is a bit of a change from my usual work and the style of artwork that I have in my portfolio at the moment, but it is a refreshing change of direction and will certainly add another dimension to my repertoire. Aside from that I have just finished working on a couple of features for L’Autre Magazine and Dash Magazine that should be coming out very soon.
Can you describe how you make images?
It varies from piece to piece, but generally I do a lot of people-watching, take photographs and/or collect imagery, then begin with a pencil sketch and develop it from there. I try to work at A3 or A2 scale where possible to prevent restricting expressive or accidental lines, but sometimes time (and size of scanners) dictates that you work smaller.
Do you keep your style consistent or is it always something that is developing?
I would like to think the latter about my style of work. My attitude is that I am striving for perfection in my work, knowing it is not an achievable aim. But I find elements of past work pleasing and try to build around those small elements of success in new work. Above all, I want to try and avoid my next piece looking the same as my last whilst trying to create something of a signature style. A constant conflict of interests, but all the more fun.
Where do you take inspiration from, beyond the work of other artists and illustrators?
There are only a very small handful of illustrators whose work I will ever look at. I feel it is important not to be too well versed in everyone else’s work in order to remain as consciously and subconsciously individual as possible. My inspiration comes in a variety of forms. Of course, people-watching is right up there! I find it remarkable, especially in the hustle and bustle of London, what fantastic things there are to observe when you move at a slower pace to everyone around you. I also recently read Christian Dior’s autobiography, which had a profound influence on me, especially my mind-set, drive and determination in my work. I think it is important to have quiet time now and again and embrace unexpected sources of inspiration that would otherwise go unnoticed in life’s mad rush.
Where do you think illustration is heading at the moment?
Well, I am a bit of an ‘old man’ as my best friend likes to point out so very often, and I would love to see the illustration industry go full circle, back to its ‘golden age’ and see it being used commercially as much as photography is and has been. I think the direction of illustration very much depends on the direction of media generally and how illustrators (and illustration) can adapt to suit the need. It seems a little like we are experiencing a craft rebellion to the digital age which can’t hurt our industry. But in order to make it a viable career, illustrators do need to be more entrepreneurial. Myself included!
Apart from illustration, what do you do?
I watch movies, read, exercise, drink coffee and tea, eat cake, watch the world go by and dream. Then I go to bed and sleep and just dream.
Is where you live an influence on your work?
Because I currently work from home, yes, totally. And I need space. I cannot work in the exact same spot twice in a row. A change of scene always helps me to have a fresh outlook for my next piece of work. Even if it is just turning a chair to face a different direction.
Is there any project you would like to do and haven’t had the opportunity?
Quite simply, I would like to work for Dior illustrating looks each season. That is a job that I dream of doing and would never tire of. Basically, I want Rene Gruau’s old job. That is what I aim to aspire to.