ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: JAMIE WATERS
Jamie is a London based, multidisciplinary creative and Creative Director of collective duo: JAW. We speak to him about creating a style of your own, projects during lockdown and advice for up and coming creatives.
“I’ve heard a lot of photographers say that when you start, you have to copy those who inspire you to learn how to actually develop your own style. This didn’t work for me.”
Hey Jamie, tell us a little about yourself, what you do, where you’re based etc.
I’m a multidisciplinary creative working primarily within fashion and music! I studied Architecture at Kingston university (at least I was supposed to) I often found myself in the photography department, the print room or in the fashion studios… I revelled in the opportunity to pick up new skills and uncover new means in which to test my creativity.
You operate under JAW. Could you give us a brief summary of what this is?
During my first year at university I established a collective with a group of friends called ‘Swarmed.’ I was learning how to code back then so I built a website for it and screen printed a load of merchandise to sell. Somehow we hosted an exhibition in Knightsbridge (well it was a party but we didn’t tell the venue that) and my most successful t-shirt featured this face design… since we disbanded I’ve carried this face logo as my personal brand. But the JAW part! It’s essentially my initials, but alongside the face symbol it has become synonymous with my brand. For years I operated under this moniker until enough work came in to actually establish ourselves as a real collective, I now have a JAW family to juggle all the creative challenges thrown at us.
Do you think working under a collective is the way to go moving forward within visual arts?
Personally I’m a very independent person, but you see the most growth when you surround yourself with a solid crew and tackle projects together. It’s the best way to reach bigger clients and handle the workload efficiently, it can get really overwhelming otherwise!
Your work is very inspired and always has either a strong visual or message. What inspired you to create your art the way you do?
I’ve heard a lot of photographers say that when you start, you have to copy those who inspire you to learn how to actually develop your own style. This didn’t work for me because (at the time) I really challenged the photography being made by my peers, to create something similar would have disappointed me. From the beginning I wanted to prove something, I guess internally I’m quite competitive in that sense. My first lookbook was quickly followed by my first fashion show, so it was really a baptism by fire… I was very unprepared, which honestly I think is a great way to learn! I joined the Fashion Scout crew of photographers in my second year at university (shooting shows in London), I was the only guy on the team and definitely the least experienced! I think I thrived on this as it pushed me to prove myself and make my own statement. I also learned that opportunities come to those prepared to break a few rules… I’ve snuck into countless shows and gigs for an opportunity to shoot, often resulting in actual client work! I think what I’m trying to say is I’m simply trying to inject my personality into everything I do in order to separate myself from the rest, when you embrace that approach the work just seems to create itself. I make work that excites me and that’s all I need, if it resonates with someone else then that’s incredible to me.
Do you incorporate different cultures into your art? If yes, which ones and why do you think this is important?
Black culture certainly plays a large part in my work, purely because the majority of the brilliant artists I have the opportunity of working with happen to be black. I only realised recently whilst attending the BLM protests that I’m indebted to black culture for much of my work, but I hope that the work itself gives back to the culture by further propelling artists and supporting them along their journey. It’s an amazing privilege to have the opportunity on a daily basis to create work that enables myself and my peers to grow.
Why did you choose to base yourself in East London?
So I lived in Mile End when I started freelancing, but it was a tiny flat that I could hardly afford… Once the work started coming in consistently and I switched to freelancing full time, I realised that paying extortionate rent impedes on your work growth in the long term. I moved further out to gain the space I needed to have my own studio and invest more money into equipment. It’s also safer for me to be slightly further from the social temptations of London! I’m planning to move to Paris in a year though… (you heard it here first).
What projects have you been working on during lockdown?
So at the start of lockdown a contract I had with an agency was dropped due to the pandemic. I’d become drained from the role so the opportunity to focus on my own projects was actually just what I needed. I’ve since worked on a number of remote music videos, editorials and artwork projects. At JAW we’ve worked on four brand campaigns as well so it’s been pretty hectic!
Lastly, as a young, successful creative, what advice would you give to creatives that want to follow your career path?
It’s not enough to be talented, freelancing full time requires networking skills! You have to do your research and uncover those who will provide you work and enable you career progression. If your work is relevant and you’re persistent enough the work will come. Don’t be precious about ideas and work with other people as much as possible, ideally people with more experience than yourself. And lastly, being able to share your art with people is incredible – but knowing that you probably care about your work more than anyone else does will help you maintain your originality. Make work that excites you and you’ll find your audience.
See more of Jamie's work via the links below:
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