TRCH Nov 19

Under Cover Artist: Jay Wilkinson

30 October 19 interview: LeftLion

LeftLion illustrator Jay Wilkinson gives us the story behind the cover and poster for this month's issue...

Tell us a bit about yourself…
By day, I’m a chef in a busy student bar. By night, I stay up till the late hours chasing my dream of becoming an established illustrator. I was a guitarist in a lot of metal bands growing up, and my focus eventually switched to the visual aspect of music. Reading graphic novels granted me the education on holding a narrative within my work. 

What was the inspiration behind the cover? 
This issue being the innovation special, the LeftLion team gave me examples of a Rube Goldberg machine as a starting point. It made me refer back to biomechanical and steampunk aesthetics of art, and I took inspiration from classic science fiction movies like Terminator and Blade Runner. As a kid, I was obsessed with H.R. Giger’s work in Alien and his book Ar+. 

The research helped find ways of uniting both mechanical and organic forms into the work. The Atlas of Anatomy and Human Surgery was a huge part of the artwork’s development, as well as being a bloody disturbing thing to check out. The half-human-half-Goldberg machine was created using imagery from that book. It also touches on points of medical sciences – for example, 3D printing being introduced to medical fields shows a growing innovation in the survival of humankind.

How does it compare with some other projects you’ve worked on?
I really enjoyed the freedom that was given with the original brief. One word and one visual idea that I could run with, explore and grow. Sometimes giving too much information can prohibit the result. I’ve had past projects where clients want something so exact and it slowly sucks the fun out of the project from the start.

What was the biggest challenge that you faced creating the piece?
It was a very labour-intensive illustration. I’m known for a lot of detail in every part of my work. My compulsion to fill every void with lines and dots can be a challenge in itself, but drawing digitally and therefore having the ability to alter steps makes it so much easier and enjoyable to me.

Tell us about some projects you’ve worked on in the past…
I’ve had a lot more projects thrown at me in the last couple of years, a lot of design work for local music events. My first full artwork was for The Five Hundred’s album Bleed Red in 2018. It was a huge learning curve for me, back in the days of scanning pen and ink drawings, and editing them on a clunky Photoshop. It was a mammoth task for someone who had zero idea of how to even approach the project. 

What have you got planned for the future?
I plan to grasp any opportunities that come my way. I’d love to create for some big events in Nottingham, and to showcase my work to potential new clients. It’d be great to create some artwork for more established bands – maybe even shows at Rock City. I’ve been absorbed in the music scene here for such a long time, so it’d be an incredible goal to achieve.

Jay Wilkinson instagram

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