Jimmy Turrell


One of our favourite illustrators, Jimmy Turrell, stopped by the studio recently to show us some of his latest work, which combines handmade collage, drawing and painting alongside digital mark making.


He's worked with clients such as Nike, Channel 4, The Guardian, The New York Times, XL Recordings, and Dazed & Confused; with  more recent projects such as the D&AD winning book cover for Heart Agency's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (designed by Pentagram) as well as promotional artwork for Glastonbury 2009.


While he was here we took the opportunity to ask him a few questions about his working process.

WMT: A lot of urban/street artists are beginning to make careers out of selling prints and originals of their work. Is that a road you'd like to go down? (Jimmy already sells a few prints online.)

JT: Yeah – it's definitely a part of my work I want to develop more. The way things have moved over the last ten years with illustrators selling their work from their own sites and through online galleries – it's broken down the boundaries of what it actually means to be an artist.

WMT: Can you describe the process you go through on an average piece of work, from briefing to finished piece?

JT: Basically I sit down with my sketchbook and flick through old books and mags to try and get a feel for the piece. I’ll then start cutting things out and sketching and I’ll begin to make a visual scrapbook of ideas and themes. Once I’ve got my primary ideas fleshed out I’ll begin the drawing/painting/collage process proper and then I’ll scan the work into the computer and continue from there.


WMT: Is there anyone you'd particularly like to work with?

JT: I've been lucky enough to work with some of the companies I've always respected  (Intro, Pentagram, Colette, XL) but it would be fantastic to work with one of the greats – Saville, Glaser or Hipgnosis.

WMT: Is there any advice you'd give to someone who's thinking of becoming an illustrator?

JT: Financially it can be a bit of a slog starting off. When the magazine I was working for folded I thought my world had ended and that I’d never work again. In actuality it kicked my arse into gear to start looking down different paths. If you have the talent then it will eventually shine through – so keep at it.

Jimmy's been good enough to let us have a unique hand-made print (below) to give away to one of you lot – it's one of ten he created for The Guardian's Glastonbury 2009 Guide, featuring a mash-up of Lady Gaga, La Roux, Bruce Springsteen and The Prodigy.


This is how the final artwork was used at Glastonbury:


To be in with a chance of winning, just drop us a comment below.

  • Tom

    yes please…. I really love the image of the girl with the tree, really beautiful.

  • Keep these interviews coming, they make me look good in front of the 17 year old (graphics) students I have to teach Maths to.
    One young man was scanning, arranging bitmaps as objects in Illustrator, printing out, amending with paint/pens, scanning back in… he had his whole final major project as a series of layers in one Illustrator file. You could see the whole history by clicking the eyes…

  • Great Work!

  • Jimmy Turrell is awesome, love his collage/surrealist apporach. Thanks WMT

  • This guy has an impressive portfolio. It’s always interesting to know the creative process of someone.

  • Love that first image

  • Niiiice!

  • Clint

    Isn’t that La Roux selling tshirts at Glastonbury? It’s nice she found a bit of work after the pop thing went a bit wrong …

  • over the past few years you have been an amazing source of inspiration, I point my students to you on a regular basis…some of them even listen to me and visit! You were the first blog I started to follow regularly and now I have my own. Thank you :-)

  • Chris

    I love his stuff.

  • Oh, I’ve seen this stuff around, good to find out the name to the work.

  • John

    Is that man a giant?
    Or is it just a very small guide?

  • Angus

    Thanks WMT, always a good read and source of information – and now an art guide too.

  • Y-Fighter

    I thought you were interviewing this guy when I saw the blog title: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Turrell. I thought “Jimmy? Heck, Alistair’s on friendly terms!”

  • ash

    Lovely, thank you for including the interview. His work is fresh…very awe.

  • The ancient mariner is amazing – part ancient macabre, part fresh expresionist. Extremely clever, and great interview too esp for such a succinct one.. Cheers!

  • Is the hand-made print giveout over ? I would really love to win that! Big hug from Venezuela!

  • Jenny

    Oh he is great! I remember sitting in the Guardian lounge tent at Glastonbury and analysing the design of the lounge and the illustration on the Guide booklets with my friend Sally. We loved it. Great to see some more of his work. Love the cover for The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

  • Judy

    Gorgeous work!

  • Emma Collins

    Those images are loverly! I’ve recently been making my own small books and they’re adorable!