The Art of Jiro Bevis


Written by Karim Khan
14 Monday 14th July 2008

Jiro Bevis has become somewhat of a household name, if you are in your twenties and live in an apartment. He's done loads of illustrations for magazines, broadsheet magazines, bands, niche-y companies like Six Pack and skate labels like Crème. To find out more we stalked him back to his flat in an estate in Dalston.


His flat is reassuringly, or disconcertingly tidy - depending on your perspective. The walls of his bedroom walls are sparsely decorated with knitted wall hangings of JFK, kitsch mirrors and World Wrestling Federation figures of Hawk and Animal; Gaudy Americana lives on right here. There is also a bookshelf filled with obscure glossies on illustration, an impressive array of vinyl stacked immaculately on shelves. At least he's polite. “Tea or coffee, guys?"

If popular opinion/slanderous rumour is to be believed, Jiro has been living in a forest of late. Fortunately, he’s decided to emerge from the undergrowth and continue with his unique style of drawings that reflect a certain childishness as much as they do a charming sincerity. Their widespread appeal has snared him work from Parisian record label Kitsune’s Punks Jump Up and the Institubes label (whose crew include Midnight Juggernauts, Surkin and Para One), to council redevelopment schemes.

To explain the scope of Jiro’s work, the Punks Jump Up website that he designed sees a Lichtenstein-style comic drawing brilliantly infused with modern colouring, while the logo he designed for themjiro bec takes the form of a linear insignia that bypasses the current pop palette for electro's messy lines and day-glo colours towards something glossier - almost glam rock. Furthermore you get the impression that these two are merely single pies in the veritable creative bakery connected to his fingers.

Indeed Jiro can come across as quite the bona fide businessman, plaid and Vans innocently posturing as suit and tie. Yet Jiro's discontent with the art scene lies in the fact of it's own increasing commodification: “It seems that art isn’t being bought anymore simply because it’s liked. It’s bought as an investment… I know a guy who basically knows loads of city boys and sells them mediocre pieces of art and tells them that this or that artist is about to blow up, and they just buy it all. They’re idiots with too much money. There are a lot of artists aiming at that audience now. Don’t get me wrong, I mean, people need to make money, it’s just a rather sad state of affairs.”

Jiro himself started to get noticed through his flyer design for the People Are Germs club nights. “The flyers were a good thing, man - good publicity. The work was with friends and it turned out to be a good platform for me. I’d advise anyone to do these kinds of things. Forget about the money and get seen.”

His next project will involve t-shirts, if he can curb his pernickety tendencies: “I thought it was an easy game, you know? But I’m learning that you have to give [t-shirts] a lot of attention – you need to wash them like 50 times so you don’t get that horrible difference in texture between the t-shirt and the print (taking tips from his favourite label Alakazam). That stuff’s important! I’m trying to start something with my musical friends Pete (Graffiti Island) and Ted (Team Megamix), but I’m really fussy and keep on arguing with them, so it probably won’t ever happen, haha. I want to do pieces from scratch – not just the style I've used so far. The other thing is, that whole thing about working in ‘seasons’  - forget it, I hate waiting to be able to do something.”

Jiro’s ambition is unquestionable, but he tries to find a balance between commercial work and his personal work. “I have so many projects right now, I have to refuse some to pursue my personal work. I can’t afford to, but I am! Many artists do just what pays. I mean that's cool, everyone's gotta make money - but the people I respect can do what they want. It’s all about getting there.” His mind may be enveloped around the 1950s-80s, but his feet are planted very much in the business of the now. And rather fittingly, Europe seems to have their eyes on Jiro’s blank page.

See more from Jiro here.

P.S. Jiro just told me that he didn't actually do the Punks Jump Up website image, so apologies from me, and big up the guy who did, it looks great! Maybe we'll track YOU down next, huh?

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