Owner of one resplendent russet beard, a pair of nimble artist’s hands and a noggin that has dreamed up such lines as “I eat my cake in my pants” and “Mr Tibbles loves his nibbles”, London-based illustrator James Ward is the talent behind humorous animal art concept Jimbobart.
From his studio and shop in Shoreditch, he inks out an offbeat collection of ceramics, original illustrations and limited edition prints, which can also be found at long-time LUXE fave Liberty, the Southbank Centre Shop, Franck et Fils in Paris and online.
And seeing as Jimbobart has just made it into the pages of our latest London guide, we thought it was high time we sat down for cuppa and a chinwag…
What or who inspired you to become an artist?
My mum would probably be my biggest inspiration. She’s a skilled artist and a keen naturalist so we’d always be going on long walks where she’d point out flora and fauna – from an early age she encouraged me to draw.
Three words that describe your approach to art…
Haphazard, humorous and rewarding.
Which of your expressive animal is your favourite, and why?
My most beloved character is the first bear plate I did, the Hungry Bear. He looks angry but he’s politely asking you for the leftover food on your plate. I really like the idea that scary animals could actually be conscientiously polite.
Your characters are always dapperly attired, but where do you shop and groom in London to stay looking sharp?
I love shopping in Reiss, though it’s a bit pricey so I can’t do so too often. Grooming-wise, I have recently been going to Neville Barbers on Redchurch Street for a haircut and a nifty beard trim!
24 hours in London – what are the must-dos?
To start the day, a bacon sandwich from St. John Bread & Wine opposite Spitalfields – it’s made with an amazing sourdough bread, lashings of bacon and a good dollop of their house ketchup. Take in an exhibition depending on what’s on… the Tate, Barbican, Whitechapel Gallery, all good. Walk along the Thames or one of the canals, preferably ending up at the Crate Brewery in Hackney Wick for stellar craft brews and pizzas, plus in summer you can sit out by the beautiful River Lee canal.
Where can you be found on a Saturday afternoon?
Saturdays in the summertime, I play cricket for my local London team, so that takes up the whole day. The rest of the year, I’m usually working but if I’m not I like to go for a walk. There’s a good route from where I live in Finsbury Park that follows an old disused railway track to Hampstead.
You mentioned you were a fan of Mikkeller, but what’s your preferred local watering hole?
There are so many brilliant craft pubs that have opened up around my shop. We have a Brewdog pub up the road, and another one called Mother Kelly’s, but I have to say that my favourite is The Kings Arms on Buckfast Street.
What do you most love and loathe about London?
Travelling to and from work I loathe! I really hate it when people don’t wait for you to get off the train before they get on… it’s really petty but I can’t help it! I love the art events, exhibitions, beer festivals, live music – I would miss it all if I moved back to the countryside.
Five places on your travel wish list, and why you want to go…
Vietnam – Beaches, islands, beautiful scenery, really friendly people. I’ve heard it’s amazing!
Barcelona – I really want to see Gaudi’s weird and wonderful architecture, and can’t believe I haven’t made it there yet.
Finland – I’d love to spend a summer swimming in the lakes and really want to see the Northern Lights.
America – I have a cousin that lives out in the Blue Ridge Mountains, North Virginia, where he has a pottery business. It would be ace to go out there, craft some ceramics and take in the stunning landscapes.
New Zealand – I have been there already but I would love to go back, it’s so beautiful and the wildlife is amazing!
And finally, what’s next for Jimbobart?
I am buying a kiln so we can do more one-off pieces and spend days playing around with clay!
Jimbobart, 24 Cheshire St, E2, Shoreditch, London, +44 7862 276 096, jimbobart.com