Interview with James Jirat Patradoon

October 15th, 2007

James Jirat Patradoon says he would like to be Jamie Madrox the Multiple Man so I could have a sweatshop of James Patradoons pumping out artworks and comics and essays, but we think he does just fine by himself!


What is your name or handle and where are you located

My name is James Jirat Patradoon. I don’t have a handle, a lot of people tell me I should have one because my name is too long and it would make me easier to remember, but it feels kind of weird making one up now when I’ve been doing this for a while without one. I live in Sydney.

Where did you learn your craft?

I learnt to draw from watching too many cartoons and reading too many comic books. I learnt how to screen-print at the College of Fine Arts UNSW.

What is your artistic medium of choice? Why that medium?

I go through phases. I get bored easily so I’m always changing styles and mediums. At the moment I’ve settled into working with a Wacom Tablet. It has taken me a year since I bought the damn thing to actually get used to drawing with it but now that I have, I love it.

Working digitally allows me to work a lot faster and be more experimental when it comes to inking and contrast decisions. You become a lot more confident with an image when you know you can try something crazy and just press ctrl+z to undo it if it turns out terrible.

Other than wacom tablets, I draw on architect’s drafting film because it is translucent and you can layer it and no matter what you do to it you can always rub things out. All the pencil work I do is on drafting film because I find it captures the grittiness and the smudginess of working with pencil so well. I like things dirty.


Have you always been focused in this particular area?

Ever since I was young I’ve always wanted to earn a living out of doing something creative. I went to university to study Graphic Design but I didn’t have the marks for it, so I got into Fine Arts with the intention of transferring but I never got around to it. I didn’t think I’d ever end up as an illustrator or an artist – I always considered that to be really hedonistic career – but well….here I am.

Whose work do you relate to most? Who inspires you?

protonsIt has to be Raymond Pettibon. I love his work to death. He combines lines from books and movies with sloppy drawings. They aren’t comics. I don’t know how else to describe them, I’ve never been able to describe them, I’m still in awe of them, nothing I could say will do them any justice. I also love the way he works, he works fast. His studio is a mess and his exhibitions are notes and drawings tacked up on walls like the work of a mad scientist. He makes me think of late nights, coffee mug stains, ashtrays, and car horns.

My artistic practice is inspired a lot by Raymond Pettibon. I come up with the titles of my works before I come up with images. I’m always writing and jotting down quotes and lines from movies and books and then think of an image that would suit that title. I like taking things out of context and isolating them so that all that’s left is the implication of a story or narrative, like a film still. Sometimes I like the titles more than I like the pictures.

Do you feel that the internet is killing creativity or enhancing it?

It is hard to say. I know that the internet kills my productivity that’s for sure. The terrible thing about working on a computer most of the time is that you are always two clicks away from Youtube or Facebook. The internet is a great tool when used for the right purposes but unfortunately more often it is used to waste time. I thought I had internet addiction at one point – I would feel out of touch with the world if I was away from it for too long. It was a very ‘modern’ feeling.

With screening, how long did it take you to get the technique down pat?

weaponsThe unfortunate thing was while I was at university there were a lot of things that I had to learn the hard way or through trial and error because no one could give me a straight answer about how anything worked (because no one knew how anything worked). It was incredibly frustrating. So it probably took a lot longer than it should have.

I practically lived in the studio for my final year. I’d come in at night and stay till dawn just screen-printing and listening to the radio. Everything was faster and fewer things went wrong when I had the space all to myself like that. When you share the space with a lot of people, things screw up all the time, so it puts a lot of people off the whole medium because you have to start all over again.

During third year I found a free downloadable zine online called Re: A Guide To Reproduction by Jordan Crane and a bunch of other artists, released through Highwater Books. It explained everything there was to know about screenprinting and offset printing, and xerography in the most simple and straightforward manner possible. By the time I read it I already knew most the stuff anyway so it didn’t help much but I remember wishing I read it two years earlier, it would have saved me a lot of time and money and tears. I recommend it to anyone who wants to learn how to screenprint.

If you joined the X-Men, what would your special power be?

I would want to be Jamie Madrox the Multiple Man so I could have a sweatshop of James Patradoons pumping out artworks and comics and essays, because if you want anything done right you have to do it yourself. I would delegate tasks from the couch, in-between mouthfuls of Doritos.

Can you let us in on any trade secrets?

When it comes to artist block, and you are stressed out and anxious all the time and there is a deadline and you just can’t get into ‘the zone’ no matter how many coffees you may have had, just leave. Go see a movie. Go driving. Meet a friend. Get drunk. Have a nap. Do anything other than sit in front of the computer or easel or whatever. Just don’t think about it.

I find that if you force it too much then it’s a crap time for everyone. It is no fun and the artwork suffers.

I nearly destroyed a run of screenprints once because they weren’t going the right way, I was about to do the dramatic artist thing and rip them all up but I didn’t have the energy (or I just forgot to) so I just put them in my drawer and a couple of months later I took them out and finished them and they ended up being my favourite of the series. Sometimes you just need time off.


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