Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Artist of the Week - Jason Keeley

Jason Keeley completed a three year graphic design degree course at Middlesex University, joined the world's leading broadcast design & branding agency, London based Lambie-Nairn becoming Head of Screen Design but left in 2004 when he decided to embark upon a freelance career.

Jason has designed and directed idents, branding sequences and titles for, amongst others, the BBC, Discovery, Disney, BT, FIFA,The History Channel, UKTV, TV2, NOS, LCI, and SF1. Some of the most notable of these being BBC One's hot air balloon, BBC Four's realtime sound reactive identity and UKTV Style Gardens' beautiful and inventive horticultural characters. Each of these have been recognised internationally with prestigious industry awards.

Jason has always enjoyed experimenting with photography and image making. His own fine art is distinctive in style and reflects his TV work but with a more personal and emotional angle. Jason has been spending more time on his personal artistic projects and has just completed his first series of works which have been three years in the making.

Jason will be exhibiting his work at the Brighton Art Fair in September and the Palace Art Fair in Fulham in October.

Where did you train? What did training teach you and what do you wish it had taught you?

I trained at Middlesex Polytechnic in North London. I undertook a one year foundation course and a three year graphic design degree. The course gave me a broad understanding of the design process and techniques, but also allowed me to follow my own natural pathway. I wish it had taught me earlier that ideas are king and that the key to any artistic and for that matter branding issue is to stand out from the crowd. Period.

When and where did you first want to do what you do?

My mother and father worked for some time in cartoon animation, infact my mum shot the opening titles to Dad's Army! One afternoon she showed me the camera that was used for line testing. This camera was attached to a black and white, reel-to-reel video recorder and was capable of recording single frames (pretty high tech in those days). We didn't have any drawings to film so my mum and I animated a pencil rubber into shot, round the screen and out again. It took us about half an hour but I remember that the resulting animation blew me away! I was 8 years old.

Any favourite artist? Why?

Bridget Riley - simple, confident and rhythmic flowing designs - I just love her work and she has inspired me so much.

One favourite historical artist? Why?

Rembrandt - the ultimate painter. I love the deep backgrounds and the lost edges, I love the muted tones and I love the power and presence of his portraits. I have always liked the single light source or key light - it is gutsy and powerful, Rembrandt's quality of light in his pictures is always totally amazing to me.

Where do you get most of your inspiration from?

I have thought about this a lot recently and I think my inspiration comes from the things I love to do. I have always loved to dance - music also plays a huge part here. Infact, I have always been interested in visuals that move to music. This is a theme that occurs in my TV work too. I hope that my still works capture some of this dynamic.

What is the most interesting / fun job you have had?

The most interesting and fun job I had was designing and directing the BBC ONE balloon idents. It was a great experience travelling to all corners of the UK with a small film crew and getting to film from helicopters. However it was also hugely stressful.

Do you work mostly on your own? Have you had any interesting work related collaborations?

I generate my artworks on my own and as yet have not collaborated with anyone.

At age 18 who most influenced your style?

I loved the cubists. Braque and Picasso particularly. I also loved David Hockney's photo montages. They have also influenced me throughout my art training and design career.

How much do you bend your 'vision' to suit the marketplace - if at all?

I have only just completed my first set of artworks - which I began tentatively three years ago. During my period designing the BBC News title sequences I was also experimenting at the same with my own images. A technique that I employed during the design stages of that job lead me into a whole area where I knew I could express myself. However it took ages and ages to refine. I have always developed other artworks along the way - I have an eclectic sketch book and I take hundreds of photos.

Who would you say buys your work?

I don't know because I haven't sold many - this is really my maiden voyage.

Where and what is your studio?

My studio is at home - we extended into the loft at our house and I have a small room at the top.

Do you have a good work/life balance?

Not as good as I'd like - it's tricky because my work overlaps into my hobby and my passion - so it's not that simple. I love doing my work - it's when I kind of disappear into myself and time flies by.

If you could be doing anything else what would it be?

I would be playing music of some sort - hopefully on the piano - I never learnt music at school but I am having piano lessons now. I'm crap but it's great!

If you could exhibit in any gallery in the world which would it be?

It would have to be the Tate Modern - in between Matisse and Hockney and Warhol (dream on!) - I had so many trips there in my school days - Awesome times!

e: jasonkeeley@mac.com

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