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Reuniting with James Gulliver Hancock for “Islands in LA”

Reuniting always feels so good! Our friend, James Gulliver Hancock has previously collaborated with us on two rad wallets for the Poketo Australia Series, and an equally awesome shirt. This time, he’ll be joining us again for “Islands in LA” on February 27th and we couldn’t be more happier! If you haven’t seen the wallets, check ‘em out here: James 1 and James 2. In the mean time, get to know James…


Hey James! Always a pleasure to be working with you again! In your past interview with Poketo, you’ve mentioned that “because of this eclectic practice [illustration] my work is constantly evolving…” Is there a certain direction that you feel like your work is going these days?

I’ve actually been on tour with LENKA for the last month and a half, all the way across America. It was my first time on tour and a real baptism by fire! Was so much fun! and it gave me a constantly changing environment in which to make things; and also a constant array of different things to draw. I love being on the move because of this.

What are some surprising or out of the ordinary things that have been inspiring you lately?

[On the tour] I was getting really inspired by all the equipment surrounding the band; the van, the drums, guitars, and then got obsessed with the people on the tour and was drawing them. I was also working on a number of commercial jobs at the same time and all these drawings and refrences got folded into each other in hotel rooms, band rooms, vans, venues….. 

Is there anything specific that you’re doing right now?

Right now I’ve been doing a lot of detailed black and white drawings for an exhibition in Sydney, which I love. As I’m compiling the last little while’s worth of work, I’m starting to see a real obsessional detail mixed with whimsy and romance.

Much of your work involves different elements in one drawing. What is it about these collages of images that attracts you?

Well basically I love drawing and I love collage. I typically draw all the time and build up a resource of objects, symbols and patterns, and then have this resource lying around which I then pull together to influence different projects. Cutting them up and joining different drawings together is a really fun process, and I seem to think quite latterally when I collage. For me, drawing is meditative and collage is chaotic and lateral.


Do you feel your work has also been influenced by growing up with parents who were psychologists

Actually my mum is the psychologist. I think psychology has really affected me a lot. I am obsessed with ideas of consciousness and how our mind and sensory perceptions work. I especially love anatomy but from an emotional, romantic point of view. I am constantly trying to represent this by drawing things coming out of people’s heads and eyes, and abstract codes. 

Does that go along with what you stated in your bio of how you are “concerned with confusions of perception?” How do you communicate this in your art? Is it apart of everything you make in subtle ways?

Yes I think so, I’ve always been interested in personal codes and maps and abstractions, and for me all the little swirls and details and asterisks that appear in my work are about representing perception etc. You’ll see a lot of my work contain refrences to the sense of sight and the mind. It is really a way of seeing and a philosophy that falls into everything I make. 


That’s really interesting! I could imagine those drawings could get pretty abstract. How do people respond to them?

People seem drawn to this and I get asked to work on really great projects about subjects that fascinate me including everything from black holes to autism.

You mentioned on your blog that many people ask you for drawings for tattoos. How do you feel about someone having your art with them all the time–literally? Do you have any tattoos? If so, what are they?

I love it! I love that one on my site too (picture below), because I literally drew it and she went and got it done 5 minutes after she saw it. It was a great process. It feels like a great collaboration, with myself, the tattoo artist, and the person getting the tat, it’s great! I love collaboration. I don’t know if I could handle having big images on me. I move through themes fairly fast. I’m obsessed with cars one week and hands the next so I’d never be able to commit. Though I’ve thought about getting a gun and learning, which I’m sure would result in a whole bunch of scribbles and symbols all over me!


Can you tell us a bit about how you work?

Well I work from my home studio so there is a lot of flexibility. Normally my girlfriend is here and we work together on our projects which keeps the energy flowing. When I’m by myself I really have to set a bit of a timetable to get things done. I often find that putting the first mark on the page is the hardest; so having a start time for a project forces me into starting it. Then I’m off and I usually work obsessively non-stop untll it’s finished. 

You’ve been an Angeleno for some a while now. Are there any new places, eateries, shops, parks, etc., that you’ve discovered? Please share!

Hmmm, well I spilled out of the Echoplex the other night and found the new Two Boots pizza which tasted pretty amazing at 2am. And I just found the crepe stand at the Silverlake Farmers Market down the road from me, which is super tasty! I went and checked out Mexico over christmas. That’s about the closest I can get to street food here! I’m a pretty healthy eater though, my staple food is rice and veggies. LA is great for that though since so many vegetarian and vegan restaurants that have simple food.


What do you look forward to most at Islands in LA? What lasting impression do you want the attendees to leave with?

Well I’m in love with some of the other artists so I can’t wait to have a chat to start. Collaboration is always fun so I hope that really does happen somehow. I think it will be a special day if people get to see these artists working on stuff while they are there surrounded by previous works. Can’t wait!

Thanks James! We’ll see you soon!

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Poketo and Islands Fold Pop Up Art Show, “Islands in LA”

Beginning at 3 PM, all are invited to grab a drink, hang out with the artists, and witness new pieces being created from start to finish to be showcased later that evening. At 6 PM the official party will begin with a release of a special edition Poketo tee shirt featuring a collaborative design by the artists. The spontaneous nature of the show will allow the public to purchase all original art right off the walls to be taken home that evening.

Friday, February 27th
3 PM – 6 PM: Open studio with artists
6 PM – 9 PM: Official Artshow/ Party

Poketo Studio:
510 South Hewitt Street, #506, Los Angeles
Visit Islands in LA or Poketo for more info

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