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Essex Photography Prize 2023 Create
June 3, 2018

Interview with Artist Jack Browning

We like to take the time to get to know our customers that little bit better. We have been producing fine art prints for a very talented artist called Jack Browning. Jack’s very unique style is instantly recognisable and is such a pleasure when we get to see his latest works. We wanted to know a bit more about the man behind the paintings, so we went to meet him in his studio and this is what he had to say.

When people ask you what you “do”, how do you answer?

I normally start with telling them I just colour things in! Otherwise, I say that I’m a creator who tries to make my audience feel SOMETHING. Whether that’s nostalgia, hate, love, familiarity with someone or something I’ve painted…whatever that is; if somebody is moved by what I create then my job has been done.

How do you select the people that your do portraits of?

I like anybody or anything with a story to tell. If I find somebody interesting, be it their personality or their story, etc, I want to try and introduce them to you through a painting. I do this by trying to make informed choices of colour and form but really, it’s more organic and more honest if I just switch off and don’t think about it too much.

Have you ever considered doing a self portrait? And if so, what would you like to convey with that?

I finished a self-portrait just after my 19th birthday last year. I was struggling with my depression and trying to find my footing and my place where I was. I thought by reflecting on my life through my own face was probably a good way to maybe not deal outright with my problems, but to make sense of them.

I made it a rule that I’d do one every year at around the same time and I’ve just finished my second. I feel I’m in a better place this year and the brighter colours contrast last year’s. It’s a great way of mapping my own journey.

Technically they’re useful too; I have to study and find new things in something I initially thought I knew everything about. Plus you see your imperfections and a good artist shouldn’t hide those.

What is your technical process when creating one of your portraits?

Up until a few months ago I exclusively used a grid system which is a really accurate and methodical way of getting things right proportionally.

BUT I realised that I was focusing too much on trying to get the grid right and not what I had to paint in front of me, so I ditched it.

Now I use a great colour called Burnt Sienna to sketch out all areas of shadow and the features of a face.

Then I’ll build on that and add in particular highlights, using white, ocres and classic hues of the primary colours.

It all comes together when I put my brave pants on and start adding darker colours and bringing it all together.

The glitchiness that people associate with my art happens last – it’s a weird way of expressing an energy in the piece and I doubt I’ll ever be able to explain that – I’ve tried to believe me. A lot of classic art lovers often ask “what the hell did you do that for?!”

Are you the only artistic one in your family?

My Mum who I’m real close to has always been creative. She says she isn’t and that she’s good at crafts, but it’s all creative and someone who can create awesome crafty objects is just as credible as someone who can create photo realistic paintings. I think I exist somewhere in between those.

Is there something you are currently working on, or are excited about?

I’m currently planning my first solo show which will take place in Chelmsford later this year. I’m putting together a series on the Old West in America and the wars that I read about. I’m massively into history and I’ve yet to meld art with that – I’m excited to see what happens there.

I’m also trying to expand my cityscape portfolio. When I’m touring in the various bands I play in, I’m always snapping photos.

What would you like to put in Room 101, to rid it from the world.

I think personally, the bias that artists and creative people face. The whole “get a real job!” mentality. Whilst my stresses and anxieties and late nights and long hours aren’t about my next financial target for example, they’re just as valid as anybody else’s. I work just as hard as the next guy, just in different ways.

On the grand scale though, I want to rid the world of xenophobia. The truth is that borders and patriotism is nonsense – we need to get rid of the whole us and them mentality. It’s always been silly but maybe necessary in the earliest times of man, but it’s so redundant now and is largely only destructive. It brings out the worst in people.

Why do you use Blue Sky Printing?

It’s amazingly cheap for the quality of work you guys put out. I put my name to my work so that if it is wrong or sub par it’s all on me. It’s great that you guys are rightfully so confident in your work that you will do that for my orders too.

Plus the team are so friendly and helpful; no task is too much effort for anyone here.

Thanks Jack for a great interview.  You can find more of his work and how to buy prints on his website: