James Brown the Typographically Tittilating Printmaker

Great, simple down to earth prints is how I would describe James Brown’s work. With clients such as The Guardian and Cath Kidston, and an early career working with Louis Vuitton and Levis you might expect Brown, the printmaking marvel, to have adopted some airs in his work, but this is far from the truth.

UNION

“Union is Strength” 2 colour silkscreen print

Often only two or three colours are used in James’ prints. This, together with great use of white space, allows the images to breathe and the paper to shine through. Typography based designs are often notoriously heavy, but in Brown’s work there is a lightness and a playfulness which produces wonderfully balanced prints.

I think I was aware of his work from magazines, but my first real experience was seeing his prints at Illustrated Living in Truro. My wife must have clocked my interest as she surprised me with a wonderful print entitled “This is Where the Magic Happens”. It now hangs in our bedroom (wishful thinking, I know!).

MAGIC

“This is Where the Magic Happens” 2 colour screenprint of the original linocut, “Magic”

Far from hiding his gifts from the public eye, James regularly holds a stall at Old Spitalfields Market “Designers Makers Market” held every third Saturday in the month.

There are two elements in James’ work which are normally extraordinarily difficult to capture.

1. Nostalgia – his linocuts and silkscreens deal with typographical elements like a wood block letter print and so seem like old signage. There are commercial elements to the designs, many of the prints appear like adverts for some corner store from the 1930’s. Even his animal prints remind me of old Readers Digest covers, or 2 colour comic strips like Rupert or Korky the Cat.

2. Balance – I guess this comes from a background in surface design, but there is a very pleasing sense of balance and proportion with James work which makes it enormously appealing. His images are not only balanced in form, but also in colour. Though he often uses contrast to great effect, his choice of colours sit well together and bring the to the images a sense of harmony.

YAK

“Yak” – 3 colour linocut, 2011

If you are now clamouring to get your mits on some of James Brown’s work you can get it at his shop – HERE.

If you want to find out more about James go to www.jamesbrown.info

James has kindly agreed to an interview, so watch out for that in the coming weeks.

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