james jarvis photographed by jason wen




james jarvis is a british artist who has worked with clients including coca-cola, converse, mtv, nike, nokia, sony and stüssy, and has had his work featured in publications worldwide. from 2002 – 2012, jarvis also ran his own company, amos, in partnership with russell waterman. as well as releasing over 100 character toys, amos’ work also includes graphics, comics, curating a music festival and designing a crazy-golf hole.



designboom: what originally made you want to become an artist?
james jarvis: I grew up looking at artists like richard scarry and hergé from an early age, and I suppose I wanted to do something like what they did. so, I went to art school because I wanted to learn how I could make a living from drawing, and I thought that would help.







DB: how would you describe the evolution of your style?
JJ: from a purely instinctive process it has developed into something more intellectual. when I was younger I just wanted to make all kinds of marks. I looked at lots of different artists and tried to copy the kind of marks I saw them making. as I got older I started to question what those marks signified and I started to develop a more conscious and logical process to my work.



DB: what would you say is your strongest skill and how have you honed it?
JJ: I think my strongest skill is the development of a simple, free and efficient way of expressing ideas. that has come from constantly trying to make sense of the work I am making.



monument to nothing







DB: who or what has been the biggest influence on your work?
JJ: no one thing or person really, but most recently it had been philosophy, sol lewitt and brutalist architecture.



DB: what methods and materials have you enjoyed working with the most?
JJ: the thing I most enjoy is making simple and direct drawings, but I would love to explore making large scale public sculpture.




untitled spheres




black sphere white sphere




DB: what are your thoughts on generalization vs. specialization?
JJ: I like the idea of specialization. I like the idea of drawing one thing perfectly. but to survive as an artist one needs to be adaptable to whatever opportunities come your way.



DB: what do you know now that you wish you knew when you were 21?
JJ: that I could be an artist with a capital ‘A’. I wish I had known that for me personally, illustration was a bit of a dead end. the work I was commissioned to do drew so much on a personal vision that I feel like I really work best as an artist, and had I known that before I think I would have organized my early career a little bit differently. 






pensive sphere




dance party




keep your spot tidy




DB: how do you keep your ideas fresh?
JJ: by making rules and asking myself questions.



DB: what are you currently fascinated by and how is it feeding into your work?
JJ: brutalist architecture; jokes about unfinished concrete.



please mind your language




various amos toys designed by karvis




DB: what’s the last thing that made you say ‘wow’?
these graphics for isle skateboards by lee marshall.