When an opportunity arose from the NastyHQ headquarters to commission an illustrator for one of our Pride campaign activations (a collection of punchy affirmation cards), we thought of Jamie Edler. A London-based illustrator known for his dreamy cinematic posters (CMBYN fans, get to know) soft digital watercolors, and his depictions around mental health and LGBTIQ issues, Jamie’s work had surfaced for us somewhere within the depths of Instagram and had drawn us in immediately. So when he agreed to collaborate with us, let’s just say we were pretty stoked about it. Not to mention the man works FAST. Four day turnover? Easy. Here, Jamie sat down with us to chat about queer representation, storytelling, and the importance of championing yourself.
How would you describe your work?
Intimate, soft and warm, like a boy blushing in the summer’s heat. Sweat dripping, knees touching, white socks and tank tops. Unheard conversations and curiosity in the ordinary.
Who was the first artist to influence you?
Florence and the machine – I wouldn’t say the first and I know she isn’t necessarily a visual artist, but I’ve always loved the poetry in her lyrics and the stories she tells through her music. At the moment I currently listen to a lot of Japanese City Pop – it’s always fun to work along to and honestly, the whole aesthetic is such a BOP and gives me a lot to drive inspiration from. Check out Tatsuro Yamashita.
Some of your work consists of film posters. I love how you can capture the essence of a film and give it a new life. What sparked your passion for cinema?
More than a passion for cinema, I really enjoy the contrast of my work and its stillness compared to the dynamic of a moving picture. I’ve always loved film, particularly those of Wong Kar Wai – I like the slow moving narrative and colors he uses to create the atmosphere in his work. I think that’s what really drew me to cinema as a creative device – you can create whole new worlds by showing our own world through a different person’s perspective.
Your work includes references to films like Call Me By Your Name and Blue is the Warmest Colour. Would you say that queer cinema has a big influence on your work?
I think it has had some influence on my work – I sadly don’t think there is enough queer cinema for me to call it a big influence. I’d love to see a bigger variety of queer narratives being told. A more diverse representation shall we say. Too often the stories being told end badly, or are about a family and friends acceptance of a queer character rather than the queer characters own acceptance of themselves. I’d love to see more stories about queer joy and happiness.
More queer creative talent being championed as well, within these queer storylines. Often the argument that ‘acting is acting’ is used – for me, this excuse just doesn’t cut it because, historically, acting isn’t just acting due to the inequalities that minorities face. And until the opportunities given to queer, POC, trans talent, equals those of our straight white peers, it won’t ever be – and this is applicable to any industry, including my own.
Besides cinema, what else inspires you?
People. My friends, my family, their stories. Storytelling in any form inspires me – it’s what I aim to do in any piece I create – to tell a story. I don’t mind if the audience’s interpretation of that story is completely different to mine. That’s the beauty of putting your work in front others – everyone sees things differently.
What’s your favorite piece of your own?
Honestly, I rather like the pieces I create for you at Nasty Gal – it was really enjoyable to create a queer and inclusive set of images in a commission process. As for my personal work, I love the pieces that I feel I’ve challenged myself to create. One comes to mind which is an interior piece with lots of different elements within it. It was a challenge where I was really proud of the outcome.
How would you say your art has evolved over the years?
Oh definitely it has. Due to experimentation and confidence, I think. I’d like to think I’ve retained the original essence I started drawing with but with have a clearer idea of the feelings I want my work to evoke. My process has also changed – mainly due to me being able to have access to the materials and software I work with now which has allowed me to be able to better convey the imagery that I want to, how I want to.
Do you draw every day?
And nights. Aha – I’m what some might call a workaholic. Drawing allows me to create a safe space for myself to process things. It’s always been a big part of my life and has always been a comfort.
I recently found that I needed to give myself a break from it at times so I decided to make myself another creative outlet in music. It’s been nice to interlink these together.
What goes through your mind as you create?
I tend to hyper focus. I listen to music and just draw – sometimes quite intuitively and sometimes with an outcome in mind. I’m often humming (unbeknownst to me) which very much frustrated my teachers when I was younger. Often the thoughts in my head get a little loud – when I’m drawing, they tend to fade away. Dramatic I know aha, but I can’t think of a better way to describe it.
What do you want your audience to take away from your art?
Anything they want I guess haha. A space where they can be still, reflect and be themselves. Hot summer days, quiet intimate friendships and beers in the park.
Advice for a budding artist?
Be yourself, and enjoy it. Cheesy perhaps, but the most important person to champion is yourself. You can’t always rely on other people to do that for you. It’s often the hardest part of any job but also the most rewarding one.