It’s quite hard to pigeonhole what Jody Barton does. His work spans typography and all manner of drawing practices he has produced animated pop videos and designed watches, shoes, clothing and accesories. British-born Jody is based in Copenhagen, where he had been living on-and-off for some time. “Denmark is having a PR crisis right now, but in Copenhagen in the everyday it’s still a very civil place to be living,” he says “The winters may be gloomy, but the summer is one long party where the sun only just creeps away enough to turn the sky deep blue.”
Jody defines himself as “an awkward character” and questions his own suitability for straightforward commercial projects. “I’m more likely to change styles four times a day and have sixteen opinions about everything,” he says. “It’s frankly a wonder I’ve managed to last this long really. I still work with the Big Active agency in London and their seemingly eternal patience with my wayward and unconfined energies is worthy of some kind of care award.” This hasn’t stopped the work coming in however, his ability to combine typography and illustration has resulted in commissions from Andreas Wellnitz studio in Berlin and from The New York Times. His work never shies away from tackling issues such as mental health, climate change and drug issues.
Having taken a year off following the birth of his son, he has just finished a book of drawings called Diaspora.“It is about the human need for ‘self-realisation’ but also seems somehow applicable to all the stateless people in the world,” says Jody. “What is a refugee if not a person who is searching for a better life? The epic and frankly biblical movement of peoples across the world is almost a basic constituent of human history, as well as being a reliable source of tragedy. My book is about that.” The book was available for free (he asked people to make a voluntary donation to the Red Cross as payment) as a pdf download earlier this year, but an expanded paper edition will launch later this year.
Beyond print media, Jody has been working with Danish Interiors brand Hay “making a range of really crazed holdalls and other bags” and with a number of Danish cycling companies such as Omnium Cargo and CK Barriär, a Swedish cyclocross team. In Japan he has is own fashion label Black Humours that is stocked by Beams T, the designs of which show that in monochrome his work remains distinctive.
Later this year Jody will launch the Politics of Image Making festival in Copenhagen, a weeklong event that “will elucidate the social, political, commercial and ethical facets of contemporary creative practice.”