The Many Facets of Quentin Jones

Vanessa da Silva Miranda

Like a stop-motion film composed of a thousand pictures, Quentin Jones is a multi-faceted artist and woman. We discover what makes her creativity flow and how she finds the balance between her busy work life and family.

A well-known name, both in the artistic and fashion worlds, how would you introduce yourself to somebody who doesn’t know you?
In a rambling and very ineloquent way, I’d say something like, “It’s kind of confusing, but… I’m an artist, a director and a photographer. But I work usually in a commercial or editorial way, rather than as a fine artist. I layer my artwork into my photography or film, so you end up with a multimedia approach to fashion or beauty projects.” At which point they wished they never asked the question.
You have a degree in Philosophy from Cambridge University, which is unusual for a visual artist. What led you down that path?
It was the openness of the subject; how it applies to everything. The areas of philosophy I ended up loving most were when it had practical applications, like ethics or aesthetics. But more than anything I just studied it to be at Cambridge: I knew that would be a life-changing experience, and it was.
Do you approach fashion and style in a more conceptual way, because of your studies?
I did some modelling when I was younger and that made me swear to myself that I would never work in fashion. It was soul destroying, but luckily I knew it was a means to an end. Coming back to fashion having studied philosophy and trained at CSM was different: I realised the magic of the fashion world was the scope for innovation and true creativity. It’s so forward-thinking and pioneering, much like the fine artwork, but with a commercial side that is easier to tap into.
How did you start making collages and mixing it with film?
I got a new camera for Christmas and decided to take photos of my illustration at every stage of creation, in case I messed it up by splattering paint. Then, when I was jumping through the images I noticed that the growing image was far more interesting. So I handed it in as a little jolty stop motion film rather than the illustration. My teacher said I should focus on that process for my final MA project, and I did… and that was the start of everything.
Who or what inspires you?
Mostly painters and mixed media artists. I love absorbing exhibitions and spending hours in art book shops. Like half of London, I’m having a Basquiat moment right now.
Described as surrealist, your art involves graffiti-style collages, references to beauty and fashion, the body and femininity, alongside cartoon characters and animals, such as cats, all in both still and moving images. Can you walk us through your creative process, from thought to conception?
I usually have a scatter-fire approach to research. Just to look at anything and everything that I think might be appropriate for a brand or project and take pictures, write notes and make a file of everything on my computer. If I’m lucky and have the time, I love to start in a book shop, because you stumble on things. Then I organise the chaos and scribble down more concise notes. For films, I have to board stuff out and make my thoughts coherent for the client, ad agency and beyond. The post stage – the edit, animation and adding of artwork is where the real magic happens. The more freedom I am allowed for this stage, the better the project comes out!
Favourite place to get the creative juices flowing…
McNally Jackson in New York is a great bookstore with amazing magazines and they haven’t got mad at me for leafing through things for hours on end. The Tate Modern used to have an amazing book store, but sadly they turned it into an average gift store.
Walk us through your day-to-day as both, a mother and a busy artist.
We wake up every day at 7.30am, no matter what time we went to bed. I make porridge for myself and Grey, slug back tea and then I run and get dressed and am out the door by 8.30. Most days I am in my studio for 10 hours with breaks for yoga and lunch. I eat most days from this amazing vegan cafe around the corner from my studio (which, like my house, is in Kentish town). Depending on the night of the week, I am either taking baths with Grey, cooking and watching TV series or out at dinners or parties. I like to totally leave my work in the studio and not think about it once I close the door. I used to not be able to switch off and often felt quite stressed about work. Having a baby changed that!
Coming from a creative family, and being an artist yourself, will you stimulate your son to develop his creative side?
I really believe you should follow your child’s lead and encourage what they are drawn to naturally. So far, Grey seems to love painting, but then he seems keen on anything where he can make a mess! I would love to share that side of my life with him. My husband on the other hand would love him to be into sports, which I couldn’t be less interested in!
“I like to totally leave my work in the studio and not think about it once I close the door. I used to not be able to switch off and often felt quite stressed about work. Having a baby changed that!”