In the hot seat with Printmaker, James Green13. 11. 2020
Earlier in the year, we met up with Sheffield based printmaker, James Green at his garden studio and talked about how he got started, his inspiration and love of footwear. You can follow James on Instagram at @jamesgreenprintworks.
Tell us about your work? How did you get started?
I studied fine art in the early 90's at university. I did enjoy it, but didn't really feel that inspired by my time there. I never actually tried printmaking while studying, but ended up specialising in darkroom photography, after rejecting painting and sculpture. After graduating I then spent a great many years not doing anything creative at all and working in office jobs. But in 2002 I borrowed some linocut tools off my mother-in-law, and had a go at making some prints. The results were pretty crude, but I was immediately hooked. I loved the process of carving the lino as well as revealing the print and always being slightly surprised with the results. I continued to make prints, just for fun for many years, until in 2009 when I decided that I needed to pursue my creative endeavours more seriously. I quit my job (then at the University of Sheffield), and took up being an artist/printmaker full-time. It was a pretty scary leap into the unknown, but eventually I got the hang of the best ways of working and trying to sell my prints. I also learned how to screen-print about five years ago so I could work on bigger prints, and I now work using a combination of linocut and screen-print. My art has developed over the years, and I guess a 'style' has emerged. I have four main areas that I work on; landscapes, UK wildlife, large abstract pieces and surreal donkey compositions. I feel that donkeys are a little under-represented in art and life, and I like to champion them in my work, having adventures in mysterious places. Outside of my personal work, I have created commission pieces for people like English Heritage, The Hepworth Wakefield and Sheffield Childrens Hospital.
What elements of your personal style are reflected in your art?
I'm not really sure. Perhaps the colours, and maybe the simplicity too. I'm a little particular about how colours work in my prints. I'm not too keen on primary colours, but am always interested in new combinations that I may have not used previously. I also don't use many colours in most of my prints, mostly 2 or 3 colours max. I like to concentrate on the composition, and am aware that too many colours can be a bit distracting. I guess I am also attracted to clothes that are fairly simple in design, but interesting colours too. My prints are probably more lively than my clothes, though!
Yogi was born in the 90s, what were you doing, what were you wearing and what were you listening to back in the day?
Well, I was a student in the 90's, then unemployed, then in a whole heap of random jobs. I did spend a lot of the 90's going to gigs actually, and buying records too. The 90s felt an exciting time musically. I veered from grunge to pretty awful dance music to some britpop to some more interesting and experimental music (Tindersticks, Portishead, Rachel's, Fugazi, Stereolab, off the top of my head..). I think most of my clothes back then were either from charity shops or retro second-hand boutiques. There seemed to be a lot of them in Sheffield back then (the Pulp-effect, maybe); second-hand suits, shirts with big collars, Farahs, corduroys etc. I probably looked a right sight, but I guess a lot of people did back then. Footwear-wise, I think I mostly favoured my desert boots or my Puma Suede Classics. I think I remember seeing The Beastie Boys sporting them on the tv, and they always looked pretty cool.
Are there any 90s influences in your work?
Not as far as I can tell, but if you analysed my prints enough you'd probably find some essence of my awkward 20-something self in there. I feel like my 90s was spent absorbing so many different things; music, politics, culture, film, art etc, a real jumble... I guess that's what happens to most people at that age, and then things become a little clearer as you get older, thankfully.
We know you are into footwear – what is your favourite style?
Yes, I do love my shoes and trainers. I am a sucker for a nice brogue, and I do like the classics too (desert boots, monkey boots, creepers, Dr Martens). Trainer-wise, I like retro Nikes or Vans.
What is your favourite Yogi style and why?
Probably the Caden Centre Seam. It has a nice classic design, is really comfortable, is suede (I love suede shoes) and I like the Cola colour too.