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Illustrator: Jim Stoten

We’ve been trying to collaborate with one of our favourite illustrators, Jim Stoten, since we started So Young three years ago and after getting close a couple of times we’ve finally come up with the perfect way to bring our two worlds together. Jim has created a kaleidoscopic one-man-band that comes in the shape of an A2 poster with our new commemorative, special edition eleventh issue!

We caught up with Jim about his childhood, art and music…

What do you think fuelled your creativity from your childhood?

The main thing was that I wasn’t very popular at school, all the way up until I was 18, so I spent a lot of time in my room drawing. I also used to make tapes, recording little radio plays and cutting up songs that I liked, and editing them so that my favourite bit in the song played over and over again. I just entertained myself by making things that I liked when I was a kid.

Mr Tweed’s Good Deeds is incredibly beautiful and intricate. Where were you living and what was going on in your life at that time that inspired you to create that book?

I was living in a studio flat above an illegal Off License on Seven Sisters road in North London when I was working on that book. It was my first book and I had a very strong sense of the fact that I had a lot of time and space to make it as close to a personal project as possible and so I really enjoyed getting involved in each scene that I was working on.

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So Young is inspired by a variety of links between art and music, from punk fanzines to pop art. Heinz Edelmann’s Yellow Submarine Gift Book is always to hand when we’re working on a new issue. I can see his work in yours a little, is he an inspiration?

I watched Yellow Submarine for the first time when I was 20 years old and studying at the University of Brighton. I had started to make little animations in response to the briefs that were being set as part of the course, and my tutor at the time, Ian Wright, suggested I watch it for inspiration. When I did finally watch it, it was like being allowed to watch dreams that I had had in the past. The characters and the landscapes were so familiar to me. I have only watched it once, because I knew if I watched it as many times as perhaps I have wanted to in the past, it would be extremely easy for me to just copy it and stop thinking for myself. So actually, Yellow Submarine is a film that I try my best to avoid because of how similar it is to what happens in my mind naturally, when drawing and dreaming and imagining things.

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Did you ever used to read any music fanzines/comics?

I liked comics when I was a kid. I bought the Beano and the Dandy every week and I collected the annuals that used to come out at Christmas. The best issue of the Beano I remember came with a huge scene with all of the characters in it. When I got into my teens I read the NME, especially when Britpop was beginning and the culture of bands started to pick up again. I particularly liked it when a band would list their influences, because then I would learn about new old bands. Thanks to the NME and the Melody Maker, I discovered captain Beefheart, Silver Apples, Dave Greenslade, Dr.Feelgood and all sorts of other bands at an age when that music felt like it was made for me, even though I knew it had all been created 10-15 years before I was even born.

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You are also a musician, can you tell us a bit about that, which artists inspire your music?

Yes, I love making music. I am influenced by so much music, but I am also incredibly fussy with music and so I would say I’m influenced by very small parts of many many songs, which is why I used to make those looping tapes when I was a kid. I love the guitars in Fashion by David Bowie and I Wish by Graham Coxon, the drums in Broken Household Appliance National Forest by Grandaddy and Cool Calm Collected by The Rolling Stones, the strange chords and timing structure of Dirty Blue Gene by Captain Beefheart and Elvis by The Longpigs, the Piano in Sing by Blur, the repetitive melodies of Easy Beat by Dr.Dogg and Snow Days by Real Estate and the mad elation at the end of Baba O’Reilly by the Who.

What artwork to have on your wall at home?

I have a big collection of artwork by friends and previous students of mine that is all in a big storage facility, waiting for the time when I move into my new flat and I have walls to put it all up on.

Please could you tell us a bit about what inspired you to create the poster for us and what’s going on in the image?

I really like one man band music. My favourite is an artist called Jawbone. The first time I heard his music I didn’t think much of it because it sounded like a normal band. But when I found out that everything you hear is played in one take, there and then, I could not help but be blown away the next time I listened to his music. There are so many different parts being played by one man all at the same time, and each part from the guitars, to the percussion to the harmonica to the vocals, are all amazing. So I thought it was a good way to encapsulate everything I like about music.

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Get this poster with a copy of the So Young Special Edition here.

How do you feel about vinyl and the printed artwork that comes with a physical record in the age of the internet? When the internet doesn’t always allow for the two mediums to be experienced together or for the artwork to be experienced at all?

I love vinyl records. Listening to a new record is still a fully immersive experience for me because i take the music in at the same time as getting lost in the visual aspect of the record cover and subsequent booklet-the illustrations, the lyrics, the notes on where and when it was recorded and by who. I do think it’s a shame that there are so many ways to access music now, but it would be much worse if Records weren’t available anymore.

What do you do in your spare time when you’re not drawing or making music?

I watch films, cook, eat, drink, walk about, hug my girlfriend, make coffee and sleep.

Favourite album of 2016?

I’ve sort of lost the thread of what’s happening in music this year. I find the older I get, the harder is to find music that really hits the spot. But then when that happens, I usually make some music that sounds like what I want to hear.

What are your plans for 2017?

I’m going to move into my flat, set up a studio and get going working on more Children’s books and more music.

jimtheillustrator.co.uk

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