5 Oct 2016

Q&A with Jazz Harbord

Meet Jazz – Illustrator and zine enthusiast from Hull.

Jazz Harbord is a student currently studying illustration at Leeds College of Art who simply enjoys making people feel things.

Born and bred in Hull, Jazz has been drawing her whole life and creates work which is optimistic, passionate, emotional and speaks for itself.

We spoke to Jazz about her love of zines, her recent work entitled ‘Dear Self’ and her thoughts on Hull becoming UK City of Culture in 2017.

When did you first start getting into illustration and why?

I’ve been doing illustration all my life really. Secondary school is when I made a conscious choice to do it more. It’s something I’ve always enjoyed doing ever since I was little. Me and my Mum used to have arty days, so I suppose it sort of started there. We used to take off all the labels off big bottles of coke and turn them into little rockets. I used to have little spacemen hanging out the lids. I’ve always been quite artistic and it’s something I enjoy doing.

What artists are you inspired by?

God all sorts. I love Laura Callahan’s stuff at the minute, she’s a contemporary illustrator. There’s a lot of underground stuff I like too. I think that’s why I like zines so much, they feel quite authentic. Nowadays there’s a lot of illustration that’s quite similar and I don’t think it’s really saying anything. It’s like look at this! It’s so silly! But really, it’s not.

Illustration is something that’s quite undefined and I don’t think people take it very seriously. In regards to other artists that inspire my work I have to mention Kaethe Butcher, I found her pretty recently but she’s got a similar vibe to her work that mine does. Her pieces often feel quite open and raw and I love that.

Really Feely - photo © Jazz Harbord

Is there anything else that inspires you other than art?

Yes, I love music, absolutely love it. I think something that’s quite good about Hull is that the creative scene here, particularly the music scene is really intertwined and there’s a great community spirit here. I’m also into a lot of tattooists work at the moment like Tattoos For Your Enemies and Thorn Walker. Linework is also something I’m really getting into at the minute.

What’s your favourite piece of work you’ve created so far and why?

Oh that’s a hard one, I think maybe as a finished thing, I like the Dear Self because I made it off my own back. I liked it because I could do what I wanted. I’m a bit selfish with my art, I like to be open. I like work that’s honest and it was emotional baggage I needed to push out.

Jazz Harbord Zine - photo © Thomas Arran

What type of art doesn’t float your boat?

I think something that makes good art is something that can communicate. I don’t like art that is inaccessible. You can get a piece at the Tate modern that looks like a brick and maybe at one point there was a good concept there, but I think sometimes you really have to ask – do people really get what I’m saying here? Sometimes as an artist, you think say yeah, people are totally going to get it, but actually, they really don’t.

I like some forms of fine art, but most are too much for me. In illustration, a lot of the time it’s about making pretty pictures rather than saying something. Some people will think, oh! look at that funny worm with a hat on! and lots of illustrators will wish they were as quirky. But I don’t find that very interesting.

Can you tell me more about the inspiration behind the wet wet wet image?

That was for illustration friday which is a website where they bring out a theme every week where you create a quick image for it. I don’t overly think it really. I like to put up a lot of words with my images and people can think what they like. Boys cry too!

Wet Wet Wet - photo © Jazz Harbord

What do you think of the arts and cultural scene in Hull?

It is a close community, everyone wants everyone else to succeed. Quite often in the arts things can get competitive. It’s also different, in some cases maybe Hull needs to be less friendly. Sometimes it’s good to be competitive and learn from people. Hull is full of talent and it’s about putting yourself out there as a professional. I think Something Entirely Different is great too.

Where would you like to take your work next?

I love doing my self driven stuff. Sometimes I feel like I’m a fine artist trapped in an illustrator’s body and it’s like I just want to feel things! But I also want to make money. I’ve taken on quite a few commissions recently for people in Hull.

What do you think of Hull becoming City of Culture next year?

It’s great as we’ve been doing this for years and nobody noticed. Having the city of culture means people can find out about cultural events happening in the city without having to find out through people you know.

The people here are passionate, and the community is so strong. We’re different to other places because people here don’t want to undercut each other, we won’t play dirty to get where we want to be. People here make art and music and amazing festivals because they want to give back to the city that helped them grow.

I think the city of culture will be fantastic for the arts community especially with things like the Turner Prize and it’ll be nice to have the creative boost in the area.

To see more from Jazz, check out her website or follow her on Instagram and Twitter.

Be sure to keep a look-out for her online shop which will be relaunching this winter with a heap of exciting new work.

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