Sydney artist James Jirat Patradoon creates amazingly detailed comic book styled illustrations and has clientele that includes the likes of Adidas, Nike, MTV and Ministry of Sound.
Tell us a little about yourself and what you are working on at the moment.
I do art and illustration and I’m based out of Sydney, I’m going to America in a couple of weeks so I thought I’d have a little solo show at The Tate in Glebe, Sydney to see where my head was at. Now that most of the work is finished, I guess it’s kind of about trying to capture that feeling I first had staying up watching R18+ anime on bad SBS reception, lying to my parents telling them it was just cartoons, when I was really just hanging out for the anime boobs.
Did you always want to be an artist growing up? When did it all ‘click’?
No I didn’t, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. My career advisor at school told me to just go and be a graphic designer but I didn’t get the marks to do that so I did Fine Arts instead with the intention to transfer, I was pretty bad at being proactive in my youth and never made the transfer. I guess it all finally ‘clicked’ during my Honours year, and my first year after school when people were emailing me to do illustration commissions. I don’t really have a plan B, it has all been somewhat of a serendipitous accident.
Walk us through your art process.
I’ll come up with a rough idea of an image I want to do, lately I’ve been trying to remember anything cool from dreams or whilst I’m driving. Then I shoot some photo-reference and make a really shoddy photo-collage in Photoshop. Then I import that into a program called Manga Studio and draw over that. Depending on how the work needs to ‘exist’ I’ll either just leave it at that or re-draw it on a wall or canvas etc. using an overhead projector. There are a lot of machines involved.
What is your work space like right now? What sort of music do you listen to while you work?
I’m in a creative collective called Toby and Pete and they let me use their studio, and my corner of the studio is a dump. Leading up to the show everything is just everywhere, I’m terrible to co-habitate with, I’m there 18 hours of the day so it feels like I live there, but it’s still a workplace for everyone else and they have to deal with clothes and leftover food all over the place, I’m an awful person. That scene in Fear and Loathing where he wakes up and his hotel is destroyed and there is a roast chicken in the toilet? That’s how bad things get sometimes.
I listen to a few different playlists whilst working, I mostly go between an 80’s one with all these songs I Shazam’d off 106.6FM or 98.3FM, and an RnB one. The Dream is really good to listen to when you’re drawing!
Are there any artists or other creative people that you admire? How have they influenced your work?
There are so many! My favourite artist of all time though is Jonathan Zawada, he’s hyper-intelligent and works in practically every single medium, I saw a talk he did once at Semi-Permanent about the idea of the ‘remix’ to make art and it was great articulation of how a lot the of the artists that I admire approach their work. In Year 11 Visual Art you learn about Postmodernism and that nothing is original which is pretty bleak, but incredible work can still come out of that.
A lot of bad ass dudes in black leather jackets and/or lucha libre masks appear in your work. How did this fascination come about?
I like how mythologically charged the leather jacket is, it can mean a lot of things. It goes from metal to biker to leather-daddy. It’s a camp icon and that’s why I adopted it into my work. The masks are just their for anonymity, for a while I had no faces as well, it’s about the facade and that play with identity.
I remember the first time I saw your work. They were these giant, colourful and bloody screen-printed illustrations of masked vigilantes that you actually printed yourself, a far cry from what most artists do today. How did you get into this medium and why in recent times have you chosen to move away from it?
I majored in Printmaking at art school, I wanted to make big works really fast and play with the repeated image, screen-printing allowed me to do that. Through screen-printing I learnt how to make drawings with layers, which is fundamentally how I integrated digital into my practice so easily. I was doing editions of four or six because I literally couldn’t afford the paper to print more. The popular images got snatched up a long time ago, but A LOT of them are still lying around in the studio, the guys in the collective even built a storage box for them for me, previously the prints lived under my bed!
My decision to move away from prints and physical art had a lot to do with the fact that I literally didn’t sell that many, they were hell expensive to screen-print here in Australia and people just didn’t buy them, so now they just sit around. I also started getting frustrated with the idea of the art object and collectible art, I was trained in old school printmaking so every print was actually painstakingly made, and the editions were really small. Massive runs of giclee prints just didn’t really appeal to me as art objects so I never got into that either.
I’ve been having a weird anxiety about materiality and objects lately, I don’t want to have a lot of physical things associated with me, so when it comes to art or images I love I just add them to my Ffffound or my Tumblr, so in that sense with this latest show, if you wanted my work, you could literally reblog the animated gif and it would kind of be yours.
You’ve mentioned in the past to have been inspired by superheroes, comic books and cartoons. What are some of your favourites?
Batman has always been my favourite and I’ve based my entire work ethic off him for as long as I know, but as I get older I realise I’ve just been emulating this fascistic elitist workaholic dude, and it’s made me very difficult to be around! Other than that, I love all the Kamen Riders, I don’t take them as seriously as I do Batman, they’re just crazy Japanese dudes on motorbikes with loads of power-ups. Kamen Rider Black RX was my favourite, I grew up with that version.
What do you like to do outside of art?
My favourite things in life are sleeping in and eating before bed, I don’t know if I’d consider those things hobbies, but they’re pretty much all I do outside of art because I’m working all the time? I’ve been slowly working through all the X-Files seasons as well, so there’s that! How boring!! I wish I could say ‘wake-boarding’ but who has the time?
In a recent interview on T-Squat.com you mentioned drawing Batman in kindergarten as one of your earliest memories. What was your take on Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises? And will we ever get to see a Batman a la J.J. Patradoon?
*Spoiler Alert!* The depiction of Bane in the film was far more believable than his original comic book version. Articulate muscle-man? Come on, but Nolan made it work brilliantly. This is a guy who figured out Batman’s identity in only a couple of days of being in Gotham, wore out Batman, and then broke his back in his own mansion without even trying. Bane being Batman’s intellectual equal, as well as being completely physically superior was conveyed really well in the film. His first fight with Batman was my favourite part of the film, he owns him completely! *END Spoilers*
I’ve never tried drawing Batman again since reading Paul Pope’s Batman Year 100. That was the most perfect version of Batman I could ever imagine, everyone should pick it up, and then explain the ending to me, because I still don’t get it. But it was still cool!
See more wonderful work at cargocollective.com/jirat
Originally published in Yume Magazine #4 (October 2012)