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Substance over style: James Jarvis talks creativity and social media

Illustrator James Jarvis,who is set to appear at this year's Designival, talks about the use of creative style by blue-chip brands, and shares his thoughts on how social media has impacted upon his career.

Why big brands should buy ‘creativity’ not just your visual style.

Big brands are missing a trick when it comes to commissioning recognisable creatives, says the celebrated illustrator and pioneer behind designer toys, James Jarvis.

“The better you’re paid, the less imagination you will use”.

Jarvis is to give a very personal take on how you can remain at the top of your game during his session at the two-day Designival event in Liverpool this November.

Jarvis works with some of the biggest brands in the world, but admits that having his own very recognisable visual style, is both a commercial blessing and a huge weight.

“It can become a vicious circle. As you can imagine, brands want you to work in the style that they know, but as a creative, you want to experiment and be current.

“Sometimes I can spend weeks, even months on a confidential piece of work and my profile totally dips. In our industry you’re only visible by the work you’re producing at that particular time – it’s such an ephemeral industry that you need to work hard to keep at the forefront.”

How social media has revolutionised his opportunities

Jarvis says the use of social media has radically changed his ability to communicate to a wider audience.

“When you’re designing a poster or an animated series, you can’t talk about your work. I’m as proud of the work I do in terms of drawings for Spheric Dialogues.

Jarvis says that designers and potential designers have an opportunity to use social media to keep awareness or build their name from nowhere.

“Instagram in particular offers opportunities to maintain a connection with my audience. Spheric Dialogues shows how you can use personal work to maintain a profile while working on your longer term, commercial projects.”

Jarvis promises that his Liverpool appearance will be a ‘one-off experience’. “I’ve no idea what will be the starting point, but it clearly you will have to be there and be part of it. I’ll talk about my experience, my work, all in the context of live drawing.”

Designival will run on November 22 and 23. The Drum previously announced that iconic NYC designer Lance Wyman and Simon Manchipp were to go head to head, debating the success of the London 2012 brand. Wyman branded London 2012 as “brash”.

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