Interview with James Mckenzie.

By on 15:47

        "All kinds of things influence me when creating art".

James Mckenzie is a cool graphic design from Melbourne Australia.

What inspired you to create "Gravity"?
My image "Gravity", or as I sometimes call it, "Struck By Gravity", was inspired by a few different things.
The initial concept came to me while I was listening to the track "Gravity" by John Mayer. I'm not sure what the song is meant to be about but there is a line in it that goes "Oh gravity, stay the hell away from me". I thought this was funny as obviously no one can tell gravity what to do and it brought to mind the image of a person being chased down by gravity and thrown about. This little scenario playing in my head led me to sketch up an image with the basic composition of "Struck By Gravity".
When it came to actually producing the image I wasn't quite sure on a style so I began by collecting some reference images. Originally I planned on doing it as a drawing, but while I was getting started the song "Where Is My Mind" from the Sucker Punch soundtrack came on and reminded me that I really liked the style the film was made in. So from there I decided to create the image digitally instead and tried to use a somewhat similar style to the movie.

What was for you the best job you've done?
Recently, my favourite job was a logo design I did for my brothers hospitality consulting business, "McKenzie and Hooch". I suppose it's not an overly complicated or interesting job, but it went smoothly and both himself and I were happy with the outcome. It's neat, simple and suits both him and his industry.
My best job of all time is difficult to choose. Among my personal works most of my favourites are already included in other parts of this interview. My favourite jobs for other people have probably been album designs, there's just something really enjoyable about creating imagery to accompany music. Oh, and recently a girl from the other side of the world found one of my drawings online and got it tattooed on her leg. That was pretty cool.

If you had to recommend 5 of your work What would you recommend?
"Gravity" is actually among my favourite of my works, but some others would include..."Fading" - This illustration of a mans head dissolving into nothing is based around the idea of disappearing. One afternoon when I got home from work and still had a bunch of other things to do I went into the backyard and lay down in the sun, just to switch off for a while. While I was laying there, thinking about not thinking, I tried to imagine myself sort of fading away and this image came to mind.
"Paint" - A photo-manipulation of a girl sandwiched between two paint smears. I've seen similar artworks around the internet where objects are layered through flat photographs to give them depth. I just wanted to give it a shot really.
"Shroud" - A photography of a man with a dark cloud over his face. This idea came to mind one night when I was laying in bed unable to stop thinking (something I think we've all experience). All I wanted to do was sleep and the constant thoughts were almost like a cloud preventing me from doing so. Sometimes we have so much going on that we can't process it all at once and overthinking can become a hindrance."Crystarium" - This image of a girl with a crystal structure placed over her was actually part of my development when doing an assignment at uni. The final image, a poster, was similar but with mountains behind and typography added. It worked well but I always liked it more with less clutter.
"Linger" - A merge of two landscape shots I took while exploring an abandoned quarry. For a while now I've been playing around with symmetry and balance in photographs by combing multiple images. This is one of my favourites.
"Kaleidoscope" - A cut up photograph of a friend at uni with the pieces placed back over the original shot in an abstract pattern. This idea came from an assignment where we were asked to roughly tear up and combine multiple photos of people and then draw the resulting image. I wasn't allowed to use this image as it was too planned and orderly but I've always liked it.

How is the life of a graphic designer?
The life of a graphic designer is, as with any industry, full of ups and downs.
I live in Melbourne, Australia, which has a very strong arts culture. This is great because there is always plenty to see and do, heaps of courses in art and design and lots of jobs available. Unfortunately there are also heaps of people studying art and design and so there is a lot of competition when going for jobs. Since finishing my studies I've been doing freelance work while applying for the occasional studio position on the side. I realised very quickly that to land even an internship or junior design position in Melbourne you are expected to have several years industry experience and will probably have to work for very little pay, or even for free. So I decided to focus more on my freelance work and if I happen to land a full time position then that would be amazing.
Freelance work is great because I pretty much work whenever suits me. I get a job, and a deadline, and everything in-between is up to me. Plus I get a lot more creative freedom than I might if I was working under a creative director or senior designer. The down side is that I have to find my own jobs and on any given day I may have multiple jobs on the go or none at all. As a result, at least for now, I have to also work another job to provide a reliable source of income. This not only isn't the work I want to be doing but also uses time and energy that I would rather be spending on art and design.

All that said, life as a designer suits me well. I enjoy creativity and if I get payed to do it then it's an awesome

Where did you study design?
I did a short course in design at NMIT before moving to do an advanced diploma in design and advertising at Grenadi School of Design. More than anything, study taught me about time management and working under pressure. Most of the work was practical so I saw my skills in various areas improve a lot over my three years of study. Practice makes perfect, though I suppose there is always more practice to be done.

What are your influences when creating art?
All kinds of things influence me when creating art. As mentioned above music is often involved. I rarely work without music playing and little ideas are always popping into my head when I hear interesting lyrics. Music is a creative area I've always thought about getting into but never seem to get around to trying. So in the mean time creating images based around it is satisfying enough.
I also spend large amounts of my spare time browsing art/design blogs and websites. I'll often see a unique design style or interesting piece of art and instantly want to try creating something similar. While I don't think artists should straight out copy each other, experimenting with different styles you may not be used to is a great way to develop skills and learn new things.

What projects are you working on now?
Currently I have quite a few projects on the go. Some of the work I'm doing for other people includes Minecraft style picture book illustrations for a kids program, my fathers wedding invitations, a tattoo for a friend and a logo for a hamper company.
As far as personal projects go I have heaps on the go and many more I intend to start. Some of them include designing my own tattoos, illustrating some monsters me and my kid cousins drew up one day and editing a whole bunch of photos I've taken. I also bought some old paintings at a thrift shop which I'm gonna paint other things into. Not an original idea but it should be fun.

If you'd like to know more about me or want to check out more of my work then check out the links below.
DeviantArt Photography