James Vinciguerra’s drawings of what he identifies as “stupid looking people” with wiggly type and layered montages of drawings, are most often seen layered up as tour posters or band T-shirts; for the band he plays in, Total Control, as well as for Parquet Courts and Thee Oh Sees. “I don’t make work based off the actual music and the feeling it may give me,” James tells It’s Nice That. “I’m more likely to get ideas from maybe a lyric or song title, and of course the people you are working for will have their ideas and it also helps to consider their existing visual output too.”
Rather than planning out a composition, he “starts working on ideas and the meaning unfolds as I go along," he tells It’s Nice That. “Sometimes I like to just post-rationalise meaning, which is a lot of fun! I suspect a lot of fancy designers who claim their work to be research driven do the same thing. It’s a very creative pursuit, I think”, James says. And his process shifts according to whether he’s working on paper or on a computer: “When drawing with a pen on paper, I generally don’t even really think about what I’m doing, it’s very quick. But when I use a computer to make an image it’s a different process. More often than not, it starts out of drawing shapes and I’ll be like: ‘that looks like a leg that would belong to one of the stupid looking people I draw’, and then it slowly transforms into one of those stupid people. I don’t work very smart, my processes are time-consuming.”James’ interest in working with typography originates from wanting to be a type designer, “until I realised I don’t have the brain for it”, he says. “I do keep a look out for new typefaces, I enjoy looking at them and find them quite inspiring, but I find it quite hard to integrate them into my own work. I like to use typefaces and mess with them or draw my own characters. Last year when my computer stopped working, I started just doing more lettering by hand, even though it’s a bit quaint to do so.”
Although James does a lot of work with bands, he’s “not exclusively interested in working within the parameters of music”. For instance,t what inspires his practice varies largely, with James pointing out: “I love Karl Nawrot. I recently chanced upon Alain Satié, who is very good, I love the Chicago Imagists, particularly Jim Nutt and Gladys Nillson, and there’s people from Australia, like Hana Earles, Allan Cowie, Spencer Lai and Molly Dyson, who I find inspiring.” And in terms of other applications of his work, “I like to get shirts printed every year to give to people as gifts. I am in general a big fan of shirts for the sake of shirts.”
About the Author
Billie studied illustration at Camberwell College of Art before completing an MA in Visual Communication at the Royal College of Art. She joined It’s Nice That as a Freelance Editorial Assistant back in January 2015 and continues to work with us on a freelance basis.