For 20-year-old Londoner Jay Vaz, music and design have always been inexplicably linked. His early years, exposed to “amazing jazz and soul music” has influenced and informed his career which sees him producing music and DJing as well as creating visual matter for gigs, nights and festivals. Jay’s portfolio is packed full of exciting and vibrant work, made all the more impressive when you consider how young he is.
The vast amount of work that Jay (who is now based in Leeds) has so far managed to produce comes as no surprise upon finding out how young he began. It was music that first captured his imagination; Jay explains how from an early age he was “obsessed with my dad’s vinyl and cassette collection that consisted of beautiful covers from legends such as Change, Luther Vandross, Aretha Franklin, Patrice Rushen and George Benson.” However, when at age 12 he started his own collection, he would “pick up records to listen to purely based on how engaging the cover was.”
A year later, Jay took his first steps towards the work he now creates alongside one of his biggest influences: his older brother. “His amazing passion and love for creating art changed the way I viewed everything,” Jay recalls. At the age of 13, Jay became heavily involved in one of his brother’s projects which consisted of “collaging and illustrating over disposable photos from his tours around the world with the jazz band he was part of.” With their projects sponsored by the likes of Lomography and Urban Outfitters, this early introduction to the creative world solidified Jay’s interests due to “how much I loved producing art and working with like-minded people who, like me, are excited about innovative ideas and creating exciting work.”
When Jay started college, however, was when graphic design became his main focus. Studying art and design, music production and music performance, Jay met Harvey Wise who was in the same classes as him. The instantly clicked and began making music together as Art Bloc. “Before meeting Harvey, I had very little knowledge of graphic design,” he explains. However, after meeting Harvey’s family of designers (including Jacob Wise) Jay began to focus his creativity towards the medium.
Jay now operates as part of The Mannequin Collective, a “creative family” of five individuals including Joe Ellis, Ollie Inglis, Hugo Inglis and Oliver Meeke in 2017. “The Mannequin Collective studio specialises in film, visuals, design and bespoke sound production,” Jay tells It’s Nice That. So far the collective has produced work for – among many others – Outlook Festival, Dimensions Festival, Smirnoff, Rhythm Section and a whole host of independent record labels and artists with the music industry.
The work Jay produces here is clearly influenced by those early experiences of collaging alongside his family. “I love working with analogue techniques such as collage because it brings back nostalgic moments from my childhood,” he remarks, concluding: “I feel like I am still developing my style, but recently I have enjoyed working with animated graphics and experimenting with colour and texture.”
About the Author
Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor. Get in contact with Ruby about ideas you may have for long-form stories on the site.