James Gulliver's obsession with re-imaging his world has seen him work for major print, TV and music publishing releases. He has also participated in projects in the USA the UK, Indonesia, Austria, Germany, France and Australia, taking his whimsical perception around the world.
In 2000 he started SPACE3 gallery in Sydney with three friends, welcoming artists in the local community to exhibit in an ornate bank vault. He has traveled extensively; rolling in a typhoon in the sea between Japan and Russia he wondered how he’d save his sketchbook when the ship sank. He undertook artist residencies all over Europe and most recently has been in America where he has worked for clients including Dell Computers, Coca-Cola, Businessweek Magazine, The New York Times, Simon & Schuster and Herman Miller.
Currently he works out of The Pencil Factory in Brooklyn, New York, and from his homeland studio in Sydney, Australia.
James Gulliver Hancock
Place of Birth:
Currently Living in:
Brooklyn, New York
Train, bus, bike, or other:
Single speed white Px10 Peugot bicycle – it won the tour de france in the 70’s! Alright! It’s as old as me!
What's the most important object in your studio?
I love integrating all sorts of things into my process, so my work space is often filled with heaps of different tools. It’s a toss up between old bits of paper and my scanner! I love using what I have around me.
Paper or Plastic?
Whatever is at hand.
If you could resurrect one no longer living person to have lunch with, knowing you will have to return them to the grave right after coffee, who would it be?
Apart from all the wonderfully famous people of course… I’d love to meet my Grandfather. I have little bits of his – a huge winter coat from the war I sometime wear, old pictures of steam engines rolling through the english countryside – and I’m constantly told I’m like him by my family. I would love to see this doppelganger, and spend some time staring into the mirror so to speak. The only memory I have of him is the smell of old apples in his house.
Preferred method of dealing with an encounter with an acquaintance whose name you can't remember.
Start talking, jump straight in, who do we both know. Names are just names – I kind of really like these little awkward social beginning moments, where people stand like animals and wonder what to say. It’s like a little alternate universe, where suddenly everyone is super formal and dressed in bow tie finery. Then later it’s all melted into familiarity again.
Why don't you flip the tortoise over, Leon?
Don’t know what could be lurking under there. It’s far more interesting to philosophise and imagine what’s underneath. I remember turning a stone over in the countryside of Australia and finding a redback spider nest, totally freaked me out, but made me start to think about treading lightly upon the earth at an early age. It’s hard to leave nature to do it’s thing, but it’s lovely when we do. So much better to sit and ponder and invent worlds of possibilities, new fictions and narratives.
How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
Well I just got back from Woodstock in upstate NY…. lovely lovely place, rolling hills and the cliche remnants of the 60s, but a really natural area. Breaking twigs underfoot, old cottages with far too much stuff in them, stuff that you can obsessively draw. I love drawing everyone’s things, nosing around in their garage, their attic full of old histories… This place I was just in had a huge egg cup collection. Obsessional drawing is fun, especially with objects. I love the obsession of collections and repetition of objects – it’s an interesting side to human nature, which animals (woodchucks) share with us.
Favourite client so far?
It’s amazing when I get briefs for big projects from big companies that are almost unbelievably flexible. To be able to play with personal ideas and work within a corporate sphere is really fun. Herman Miller was a great client – it was a dream come true to work for a company that the Eames' used to work for! I like figuring out what people need, working together, and seeing people’s responses to what I do, how it fits in with what they’re doing, tweaking my visions and little philosophies to meet with what they are doing. I think paramaters to projects are great and keep it interesting.
Favourite imaginary client?
A scientist or a mathematician or something abstract like that, something where engineering, philosophy, thought, and imagery can all play together. I’d love to do a really intensive collaboration with someone with some very specific skills like this, where we sit around talking about how the universe works, or how we can put this engine back together.
How does your mother describe your profession?
Don’t know, but she understands it well enough because she gets me to draw things for her all the time.
Coffee or tea?
Tea, but I hardly ever remember to make it, and when other people make it for me it sits like a little shrine to tradition and I inevitably forget to drink it and it goes cold.
What's your earliest drawing memory?
When I as in pre-school I remember we had four activities we rotated around – I think it was napping, reading, puzzles, and drawing. Once I was on drawing, I didn’t want to budge so I decided to do the most complicated drawing I could fathom, so I didn’t have to move on. I think it turned out like a village with all these little details between the buildings, in the cracks were little spiders, and I drew all the nails that joined the houses.
How do you prefer to spend your mornings?
I usually jump straight in and end up starving myself so this speedy feeling kicks in and I make stuff till I gorge for the breakfast. It’s lovely to utilise all the fluid half sleep thoughts that come into my head in the period between sleep and waking.
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