Since we put up Joel Banner’s interview earlier this week due to the recent release of ‘Overcroft‘ we may as well put up the mighty Jezza’s interview from Issue 9 as well right!? Read Jeremy Jones’ art / skateboarding based interview below where he talks about his craft, graft and old man Milton Jones. Enjoy!
Jeremy Jones – Interview by: Guy Jones
Introduction: JZA Jones, the person who makes the word ‘style’ seem underdressed. We’ve been meaning to do this interview for a while, not only because we’re huge fans of the double J, but the man has so much to him that he will never brag about, despite being so rich in talent and personality. A face that you’re always stoked to see and someone we’re proud to grace these pages. Big up Jeremy Jones!
Yes Jeremy, do you remember the first time we met at a house party in Surbiton? It seemed the more your friends complimented you, the more modest you became. Is this usually the balance or is it like a ‘Gremlins’ scenario where if you get complimented after midnight you become an egotistical maniac?
Yes Guy, that night was well good. Reece was there too right? I’m sure it was after midnight by that point but my gremlin alter-ego lay dormant because I hadn’t been exposed to enough Polish lager.
Reece was there yeah! I think it’s through being so sound that you simultaneously rode for and filmed with Piilgrim, Serious Adult and Theobalds (RIP). All fabulous companies but I always liked to imagine you going out skating then turning a corner and all three crews would be waiting to go skate with you. Did this ever happen or do you spread your time more efficiently than a shit sitcom where the lead organises three dates on the same night?
Yeah that kind of situation would happen every now and then but the people involved in those companies are good pals so it would always work out. My work schedule can be quite random and change last minute so double booking would happen a bit. I bought a little diary for my skate dates at one point, didn’t last long before I drew all over it though. The easier option of course was to get sucked into the vortex of skating Southbank.
Your loyalty to the brands is very admirable, as soon as Theobalds retired out of the game (and they should be very proud of what they achieved) you took the caps off to reveal probably the best hair cut in skateboarding. Did the lack of headwear provoke this or is it a chicken egg situation?
(Laughs) I don’t know about “the best haircut in skateboarding” but yeah it was under the cap for a bit plotting it’s escape. I’ve near enough had it shaved off now. It’s weird how caps are addictive to wear. Theobalds was a great time and it was a privilege to be a part of it. Big up Craig and all the gang.
Your artwork is rated very highly at the Vague camp, from the textures to the character references. Could you tell our darling audience your preferred medium and how you got into it if you’d be so kind?
Thank you mate. My preferred mediums at the moment are spray paint and acrylic paint pens, usually on canvas. I like the way you can layer things on top of each other and keep building it up. I was into drawing from being young. Copying characters out of the Beano and stuff. Then later on in school, me and a couple of friends got into drawing graffiti pieces. When I was old enough to get the train up to Waterloo to skate Shell Centre and Southbank, I would be looking out the window looking at graff pieces which made me really want to try spray painting. I think it was that book “Concrete to Canvas” which had in it people like Vaughan Baker, Dave Dixon and Yakahead – that got me more inspired to work on canvas with paint pens. I was also doing loads of work on griptape. After a while it wrecks the nibs of the pens though. I do a lot of work digitally nowadays but I can’t stand looking at a screen for too long. I always try and even it out with working on canvas or paper. My mum is an illustrator so she has always been really encouraging. She can also be kind of critical at times which is really important too.
It seems like there’s rich inspiration from decades of illustrated characters ranging from Top Cat to Hey Arnold, with a plethora of other iconic cartoons. Research must be the best for this one and as a fan I feel particularly smug if it’s a niche reference.
Yeah finding new inspiration is fun. Often I just get lost watching the cartoons. Sometimes it takes ages to find something I want to paint. Other times I’ll see something and know more or less exactly where I’m going to go with it. Sometimes I “play it safe” with The Simpsons characters etc. and they usually sell quicker than others but then sometimes I’ll paint something more niche for my own sake – it’s those pieces that really don’t feel like “work” at all.
You incorporate these great illustrated figures in a more dark almost dystopian way, which is so fucking sick and seems to metaphor society in so many ways. Was this your intention and what’s your motivation behind it?
I think the contrast is funny between the characters and the backgrounds. I also really like the nostalgia side of it – the friendly characters you know and love but seen in a different way. Some of them are more dark or melancholy than others. It’s kind of nice not to have bright, happy things shoved in your face all day sometimes. They started off as backgrounds and I would then choose a character to go on top of it. Sometimes for contrast and sometimes because I thought the colours and shapes were similar. Now, more often than not I will pick the character or scene from a cartoon and work on the whole painting at the same time, planning it out a bit more carefully.
In terms of exhibitions, have you any lined up and where have you showcased work before?
Theres a couple of group exhibitions coming up that I’ll have work in. “Radiation Days” in Bristol mid July and “Still Board Shitless” in London in September. My favourite thing that I’ve had work in so far was probably the ‘Southbank Show’ that we did last year at Stolenspace Gallery. Raising money to open up the old space in the skate spot. It was amazing to have artwork alongside such a heavy lineup and the opening event was a blast.
You’ve become more of a corporate sellout recently doing work for capitalists such as LLSB, Slam City Skates and Austin Bristow’s mum amongst other things. Do you enjoy commissioned work and is it something you’d like to do more of?
I’ve actually done quite a bit of graphic design than the more corporate stuff over the years. There’s a lot of work that I don’t post, not because I’m not happy with it but because its a completely different style or it’s someone else’s idea and I’ve just put it together for them. I like doing these kind of jobs because it makes me try out a new style or it teaches me something new. However it can sap the fun out of it if you don’t have enough creative direction. Sometimes I’ll have to reset the balance by going and painting a big ugly face on a wall with a spray can.
How did you feel about the Feedback TS art review? Pretty prestige and a lot of syllables to boot (“It’s really something: the graphic complexity of the Duchampian cubist traces and humor of the cartoon characters is perfectly balanced by your luscious and pitch-perfect color palette.”)
(Laughs) yes. I was hyped when he wrote that. He’s a knowledgeable art historian and a funny satirist so it was cool to see what he thought of my work. Also, he can be pretty harsh when he reviews skate videos so it was a bit of a relief to see he had written something so nice. He’s backing it.
You’ve also painted the interiors of various establishments as well which is tres dope. Have you ever hosted workshops before and what are your opinions between the legalities of skateboarding and graffiti as similar outlets with detrimental consequences by outdated laws?
I’ve done a lot of odd jobs involving spray paint for sure. I’ve got Graffik Gallery in Notting Hill to thank for a chunk of that. I’ve been doing workshops and other work there for about 5 years. There we have the materials and outdoor space to teach the basics of spray painting and stencil cutting. Sometimes with clients like Google and Facebook or sometimes for a hen do or a kids party. I show my work in there sometimes too. It’s funny seeing it from an outsiders point of view. Same as with skating. I get the same cringe from someone calling it a “graffiti can” that I do from someone asking me “what’s your best trick?” Whilst mall-grabbing.
The videos that you and Milton do are incredible! Do you choreograph it together and how do you decide on the location? The spots Milton has been to out trump the locations the average skater has been to.
Thanks mate (laughs). That came about a couple years ago when he did a charity gig which was sponsored by British Airways. The comedians were given two tickets to NYC for the weekend for doing the gig. Luckily for me, my siblings and mum were busy with work so it was me and my dad, lads on tour. We didn’t really know how we were going to spend our time when we got there and we weren’t bothered about doing much touristy stuff so I thought it could be funny to make a little video. A combination of stupid puns and spoofing whatever was going around in other insta clips, like the blindfolded board catching. It kind of evolved into this thing where I was skating around but my dad was showing me up by doing tricks in his own special way (laughs). The next year we were visiting my cousins in Cape Town so we thought we would do another one. I think we are going to do a London one soon. It’s cool because my dad understands street skating a bit more now and why people prefer it to comps or park skating. It’s a bit mad though, he shared the first one on his social media and I was getting friend requests from strangers with messages inviting us to their countries.
Have you ever got the urge to get involved with Milton’s fabulous work (as you crack me up every time we meet) and have you inspired any of his pieces?
I’ve watched him and other comedians and thought that it would be amazing to do what they do. Making people laugh on such a big scale. I’ve also seen the level of hard work that they put in and the ups and downs you have to go through. My dad still tries out his jokes at the family dinner table. My brother, my sister and I have apparently inspired a lot of his jokes. Probably more so when we were younger. I once gave him the joke – “Don’t you reckon the queen looks like a pound coin?” (sounds funnier when he says it.)
(Laughs) belter! From quick wit to quick footwork. What’s the secret to quick feet? Shaun Ryder’s reaction speed is super quick, presumably down to amphetamine use but we don’t really want to promote that if we’re honest.
(Laughs) not sure mate, ask Glen Fox.
Do you prefer the nickname JZA or Jeru the damaja? Did Luka Pinto come up with both and have you seen any of the originals in real life?
People have been calling me those two nicknames since my first days down Kingston skatepark. Jeru actually introduced one of the Serious Adult video premieres at Parlour Skate Store (RIP) a couple of years ago. Did that actually happen or was it a lucid dream? Puka Linto only calls me by my full name: Jeremy Charles Hywel Jones.
You also ride for Landscape Skateboards and New Balance Numeric. I heard a rumour that you got on NB# because Mackey saw a silhouette of you tweaking an ollie, co-incidentally the same time there was an eclipse creating a sort of Batman-esque shadow in the moon. Is this true and what have you been working on with these sterling companies?
Correct. Recently we did a little New Balance clip to coincide with the London marathon (called 26.2) which is on the Grey website. The Landscape video may just be out by the time people are reading this. FIlming for that was cool because I got to spend a bit more time skating Manchester spots and dodging rain with Joe Gavin and all the other legends up there.
Thanks Jeremy! Support this splendid human by dropping him a line for some marvellous artwork at Jeremychjones@gmail.com.
Hold Tight London – Vol.16 – Overcroft
Featuring Joel Banner and Jeremy Jones