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Q&A with Jimi Mackay

Artist & illustrator signed to BA-Reps

My name is Jimi Mackay aka Jimi Crayon and I am an artist/illustrator signed to BA-Reps.

How did you get started in commercial illustration, what is your background? 

I got started in commercial illustration by chance really, back in 2005. I’d always been creative and always imagined that my job was going to be creative but other than that I was pretty open. At the time, I was into drawing, painting, graphic design, graffiti, film making and a ton of other things so it wasn’t like I had this specific path planned out. I was living in Brighton and wanted to move to London but knew I needed a decent income in order to do so. I asked around to see if anybody knew of any jobs, opportunities or people to talk to. My dad said that he had been commuting to and from London with a guy that might be worth talking to so I went for a drink with this guy called Ben Cox who turned out to be an agent at CIA (Central Illustration Agency). We chatted over a beer and I was signed up to the agency a few days later. I'm not sure I even showed him any work when we first met, but I was really enthusiastic and I think he could see that I was hungry to get started with my career so he gave me a shot.

Where did you study? Looking back, could you recommend your path for beginners in design/illustration? 

I studied an Art Foundation at Brighton college of Technology and graphic design at Brighton University. I left University after the first year, it didn’t click for me. I wouldn’t recommend any one particular path to anyone. What works for one person may not work for another and vice versa.

My advice would be to get into a rhythm, no matter what it is you’re doing, whether it's very creative or not so much, just start doing whatever it is to the best of your ability, even if it doesn’t relate to your dreams and fantasies, practice doing a good job and focus completely on the task in hand and never spend time wishing things were different. Always play to your strengths! If you do this it literally doesn’t matter where you start, life will take you on an incredible journey and it won’t be long before you’re doing work you love. I'm talking to myself as much as anyone else on this one and I try and remind myself as much as possible.

What is a turning point in your professional career? 

I’d say getting signed to my first Illustration Agency because that was the point I realized that I could definitely make a proper career out of doing something that I loved.

What is your ideal work environment? Do you work in your studio all day long or prefer to mix a few activities? 

I recently moved back to the UK from LA so I'm just working from home right now but in LA I had a really nice open plan space where I was mostly painting. Before that I was in a shared space in East London. It was a beautiful open plan loft that I shared with an excellent production company called Spring 69, I was also directing music videos with them at the time. I loved that space. I prefer to be in with a group of people that i can bounce ideas off or chat with. At Spring 69 we had a ping pong table which was great to break up intense projects. I definitely mix in activities, sometimes creativity just doesn’t flow and it becomes frustrating and ultimately pointless to try and force myself through a mental block. At these times I’ll go and do something else, maybe go to the park or a gallery or go for a run or the gym. I always find that if I dwell on a mental block I'm stuck in it for way longer but if I go and do something else, whatever it is, maybe basketball or ping pong, maybe I start making shots, I get back into a rhythm and it isn’t long before that filters back into my work.

Where are your favorite places in your city or outside?

I'm not sure I have any favourite places but in London I love running around the big parks, Regents park, Hyde park, Hampstead heath. I also really love the view from Primrose Hill near where I live and visiting Art Galleries. I love to eat so London is fantastic for that. I lived in LA until quite recently, I was a member of LACMA and MOCA so was pretty much there every week, I find LACMA so calming I love that place. I would also Hike at Runyon Canyon the whole time and loved visiting the Getty Center and Griffith Observatory. LA is a great place to socialize, endless pool parties and amazing places to eat!

Who are the designers and illustrators, colleagues in your city/country or outside you admire most?

There are so many that I admire. Practically every week somebody shows me someone new and incredible that I've never before that blows my mind. I’m blessed to live in a time with so much creative talent that's so easily accessible. Shout out to my Agents BA-Reps, my publishers Harwood King, they both have some amazing artists on their books.