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Jody Little – Artist

Originally from Scotland, Jody lives and works in London. He uses painting, drawing, collage and printmaking to create textured and layered portraits and urban scenes.

What’s your background? Where are you from?

I grew up in a small town in Scotland near the border. As soon as I could I left to go to the big city of Glasgow (think ‘Smalltown Boy’ and Jimmy Somerville…) and then after a few years of study moved to the even bigger city of London. My working background actually was I.T. and finance until 2012 when I took a sabbatical from work and crossed over to the arts/dark side.

What or who is inspiring you right now?

Last year I spent a few months in Spain (Sitges, near Barcelona) and I’m using everything I saw and experienced there to feed into new work that I’m doing at the moment.

How did you come to work in your creative industry?

Before I took a sabbatical, I had been doing intensive night and weekend classes at an adult education centre (City Lit London) and I really wanted to fully immerse myself in it and so decided to take a year out doing an MA in Printmaking at Camberwell College of Arts. Once I graduated in 2013 it was a choice between returning to work full-time as a business analyst or… not! There was no choice really and so since then I’ve been working full time as an artist.

How have you developed your career? What are you doing now?

I’ve taken part in quite a few solo and group exhibitions and they have been good experience, particularly when I’ve organised them myself or with others. I also joined an artist group (Free Painters and Sculptors) and I do their social media.

What do you aim to say with your work?

I primarily do portraits and my aim is to depict the personality of the subject as well as the likeness. So, within the works I’ll use collage elements that will reflect the biography or the likes and interest of the person and this to me is as important as the person being recognisable. I want to tell a story about that person and elicit an emotional response that – depending on who it is – may be joyful and funny or tragic and sombre, whatever feels appropriate.

Describe your creative process

Generally, I create my work using three layers. The first is a collage layer which gives the work texture and also this is generally where colour comes in. On to this I roughly and broadly apply black acrylic paint and then the top layer is where I draw the features using pastel, Conté crayon, chalk and charcoal. I usually work in that order but I’ll flit back and forward between the layers as it is progressing.

How would you define your style?

Glamour with a bit of grit.

What are the qualities that define an artist?

I’ve met quite a few artists and we are all so different!

Paint a picture of where you live/describe it

Since I moved to London I’ve always lived in the same square mile(ish) – first Elephant and Castle then Kennington – which I’ve always loved. It’s quite quiet and residential where I am but I can walk into the west end in under 30 minutes and be amongst it all.

What is your favourite era of design?

I love most things about the 1930s – architecture, fashion, movies

Who has been the most inspirational person for you?

Madonna, pre-MDNA.

What’s the project you are working on right now that you feel most passionately about?

It’s always the project that I’m working on right now. At the moment I’m doing a series of portraits of Spanish artists that have links to Catalonia.

Describe your “typical” daily routine?

In a throwback to my previous life as a business analyst, I’m very much a Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 person and so pretty much everything to do with creating is done within that time. Outside of those hours I’m thinking/socializing/watching trash TV.

What project of yours has inspired you the most?

Generally, I’m always most inspired my what I’m doing right now, but a project that I did that personally meant a lot to me related to my great uncle Walter who died in WWI. I created a body of work called ‘The Gathering’ using the sole photograph of him as well as other old photographs to explore memory and loss and how the past influences our lives in the present.

What are your beauty secrets?

Drink lots of water.

How do look after yourself mentally and physically?

I go out and run three times a week. Tough in the winter months, but I think it’s important to get outside. The quiet time helps me plan the day ahead.

What’s your favourite film?

I couldn’t choose a favourite. Anything from the golden age of Hollywood are particular favourites, particularly old 30s movies with Jean Harlow, Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. The movies and stars often are the subject of my work and although there is colour in my work the painting and drawing are done in monochrome which I feel links back to those B&W movies.

Do you have a favourite quote that you try to live by?

Many a mickle makes a muckle – French and Saunders, c.1990.

Is there anything in your career that you regret not doing? / regret doing?

Making and paying for submissions to exhibitions is something that can affect your self-esteem and your bank balance! When you don’t get accepted to something it can be frustrating but you move on.

What makes you nervous?


Who’s the nicest person you have worked with?

If she’s in town and I have a show on… my mum.

Where do you see yourself in 20 years?

By the sea.

Do you dream?

I always have quite vivid dreams.

If you were a perfume what would you smell like?

Something woody and spicy.

What’s on your playlist right now?

Disco from 1979.

Can you describe what you are doing now, with your life and work?

I’m just about to move into a studio which will be very different from the dining room table that I work from at my home. The move should impact both my life and my work!

see more of Jody’s work at & instagram @jodylittleart

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