Director, illustrator and photographer Quentin Jones brings the multifaceted aspects of art and film making to create graffiti style collaging. Thinking in images, Quentin describes her work as being drawn to the unexpected. Structured typography, vibrant colours and bold lines are the essence of her complex creations.
Quentin’s work, centred around a distinctive multimedia approach, juxtaposes fast mark-making and carefully composed images. She has a unique aesthetic. Quentin's modern surrealist style brings together photography, illustration and animation. Having collaborated with luxury fashion brands including Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Victoria Beckham and most recently Jimmy Choo, Quentin’s work often references beauty and fashion, the body and femininity. Here, she tells us about her time in school, finding her creative process and her recent self-filmed isolation video, It Was Fine.
Your work often features a series of layers with mixes of photography, painting and moving images, how do you define your own work? Would you say that you follow a particular aesthetic or theme?
It’s quite hard to define your own work – but probably because it is easier to simplify the overall vibe of something external to you. But, yes, I have been drawn to bringing aspects of art into film making and mixing up the mediums I work with. I love visual contrast in general – the rough with the polished, the fast mark making next to a very composed image. There is something really appealing about that to me. And in the simplest sense it’s being drawn to the unexpected.
How would you describe your artistic and creative process? Is there a flow or structure to how you create your pieces?
Every project is unique in their process, and probably mainly because I work in so many different ways- from [making] pure art or illustration and at the other end of the spectrum [on] commercial videos. But they all start with a brief, or a set of problems or limitations and I set about thinking about a creative solution. I tend to start by trying to absorb something new – to look at reference works that I haven’t before so as not to keep creating the same types of work myself. And then I narrow down my intentions and explain them to the client. Next we will shoot if there is video or photography involved, and then the post [photoshoot or creation] stage of combining the elements which is where the ‘art’ happens.
Your work is primarily centred around hyper realism with graffiti style collages, how do you find a balance between mediums, specifically photography and illustrations, in your work?
I have been trying! I actually went away from using paint with photography for a while because it was boring me, and I was being too careful. The pandemic gave me a chance to come back to it with more freedom and play with combing the two again which was fun.
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You initially studied Philosophy at Cambridge before going on to study Illustration at Central St. Martins. What inspired or motivated you to transition from a degree in philosophy to going on to pursue a Master’s in illustration? What is it about creating that drew you in as an artist?
It was honestly because I thought through my work options when I left Cambridge and nothing appealed to me. It soon became clear in my mind that the only thing I wanted to do was make images in some form. I think it comes down to how your mind works – I think in images, and for instance I can always see what my projects will look like before working on them. That is the essence of what I love; the imagining and then the bringing to life of something from that imagination.
Your visual language is so unique. How did you develop your sense style and visual expression? What sparked your interest in mixing illustration with collage and film?
It’s an ongoing process I guess, but I knew during my MA that I loved certain styles of working and they tended to be ways in which I could work quickly, and not spend too long creating the details of images. But it was also probably a little to do with the reaction I got from my tutors mixed with understanding which types of work I was enjoying making. But if I look back at what I was working on then, it has nothing to do with how I work now. And there isn’t one moment that I see as the instance that I found my style of working. I am still looking for it and I will never feel that I’ve found it.
You’ve said in the past that you get a lot of your inspiration from going to exhibits, art book stores and museums – with the ongoing pandemic and limitations on accessing public art spaces, how are you finding new ideas and inspiration to reference?
I have used the time to think through past references mainly. To think about what it is that I love about other works that I haven’t yet managed to include in my own projects. Over the summer I had the opportunity to make a film that was more of an art piece (with no client) and decided to go back through all my mountains of past references that never got to feed into anything, and formulate clusters of ideas that were very uncommercial and sometimes a bit ugly. I then shot myself in my spare room on greenscreen and edited this very bizarre film. And the nice thing is that I learnt some new ways of animating and shooting that have in turn fed back into my commercial work for this year.
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Not only are you an illustrator, but you also make films. How does your filmmaking work relate to your illustrative work? What are the similarities and differences between your collages and your films?
I think I see all the things I do as different parts of the same thing – my films are usually layered with a lot of post work – whether that is literally collage layers, or layers of film, almost collaged together… but not looking like ‘art’ or collage. The same for photography.
In your most recent film It was Fine you explore a form of three-dimensional cinematography. You said the theme of the film is about “creative and existential solitude/loneliness” crediting that the idea came about in response to the pandemic. Could you expand more on how the initial idea developed and the creative process of bringing this film together?
So, that was actually what I was speaking about earlier – about the project that looked into past reference points. But the ideas that the film itself spoke to were creative and existential isolation. The film was made totally in solitude, and was about the inner life and turmoil of being isolated and the versions of our self that present themselves. I think my agents thought I was having some sort of episode - but it was a really worthwhile project on many levels. Though it does sit very strangely next to a lot of my work.
You directed, starred, and edited this film, all amid a pandemic from your home in Brooklyn. What did you find most challenging when you were creating this film?
I think organising my ideas, deciding what would work without the sounding board of producers or clients, and preparing for a project which in some ways felt fake for a lot of the process. But I think that just goes to show how used to the commercial process I had got.
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What’s been your major career highlight so far? Is there one piece in particular that carries a significance over the others?
I think if you had asked me this five years ago I might have mentioned working with certain celebrities or brands, but now I see my progress more in waves; you ride the hype from one project, you do some more, you have a quiet period, you get hyped again. That and repeat, over and over. And you need to be quite strong not to find that exhausting or disappointing, but equally you need to be grounded by the knowledge that a quiet period will come gain.
What do you hope people take from your work? Is there a message you want to share?
I try to be free, experimental, and to have fun - and I hope that is how it comes across.
Are there any other projects that you’re currently working on? What can we expect in 2021?
I have just wrapped up a couple of commercial projects, and I have no idea how the rest of the year will go. If the industry stays quiet for a while I hopefully will make another film using the techniques I learnt with making It was Fine but with more script and not featuring me this time.
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