James Weinberg - Life Sized
James Weinberg is an illustrator, designer, artist, and screen printer who creates beautiful depictions of lost worlds, exotic animals, and intricate compositions of letterforms and pattern. As it turns out, he's always been looking for bold ways to make a visual statement, and most recently he's been cranking up the volume - or more literally, the scale.
It was over 10 years ago when James first tried his hand at silkscreening, "I got a space with some friends and looked at forums online and did a lot of trial and error to get results. I was transfixed by poster art starting in the mid 90s and that was all silkscreen so I knew I wanted to get set up to do that. The silkscreen posters I was looking at had to be seen to be appreciated they were using day-glo inks and screen printing allows you to create editions of work."
Influenced by the flattened, graphic style of other screen printers like Charlie Harper and the bright, typographically driven work of Sister Corita Kent (whom James describes as producing "pop art with a soul"), he's honed his own visual style to be optimized for the limitations and capabilities of printing.
Utilizing his strong affinity for colors (and more specifically color vibrations), skillful use of positive and negative space, and the transparency inherent in the ink and the overlapping of colors, James creates compositions that feel both simple and elegantly accessible while simultaneously being very technically complex.
To find inspiration for much of his subject matter, James often travels back to his childhood. Finding there his heartfelt love of animals and dinosaurs, and his sincere appreciation of the natural world and history, "I have a theory that the first things you encounter as a kid burn an image in your brain. So when I was little reading Richard Scary books and watching Banana Splits reruns it had a big influence on me."
He is also very conscious of how his current portfolio of work steers his potential client opportunities, "I try to make personal work that clients will respond too and want for their project. Its like the saying dress for the job you want, not the job you have."
These skills, influences, and philosophies have obviously been working well for James. He's earned the opportunity to show off his talents on projects ranging from beer and cider labels, to countless book jackets and event posters, to complete corporate branding guidelines and identities. However, he's most recently been taking on new challenges - the challenge of drastically increased scale.
Finding himself being more routinely asked to swap his traditional silkscreening squeegee for a paint brush and a projector is becoming much more of a common occurrence for James' world. He's being increasingly asked to apply his brand of imagery and style directly to walls at almost life sized proportions. And because he’s working larger, he’s transformed his work from being something someone simply looks at, to something that can truly be experienced.
“It really started with a poster I did for the music festival Valley of the Vapors (shown above). I created this lost world landscape with extinct and strange animals. I had a lot of fun with that poster. Which informed the first mural I did at Brooklyn Boulders [in Somerville, MA]."
Turns out that first mural at Brooklyn Boulders really was just the beginning. After someone from Drift, Inc. in next door Cambridge, MA saw the wall art James got his next large-scale commission.
“The murals in Drift cover a lot of space so I try to use positive negative space to make the wall feel active but not have to block out every square inch. I do not freestyle on those. I take a measurement and do a scaled version on the computer. Then use a simple grid, make the drawings to scale and do a transfer, or use a projector if it will work in the space. I use house paint that way I can get the colors mixed as pints to get the right colors and mix between to get subtle shading differences.”
James is constantly making, doing, and applying his skills and style in brand new ways. In addition to keeping the momentum going on his larger scale work, this October James is co-curating a silkscreen show with Trifecta Editions and AntiDesigns, and he’s currently looking for opportunities to illustrate a children’s book. He’s got some other fantastic ideas for a print installation with glow-in-the-dark inks, which sounds especially awesome, but we'll have to wait and see where that goes!
Check out all of James’ beautiful work at: http://www.weinbergdesign.com/