While his spherical characters are perhaps the most simple to execute on paper, James Jarvis‘ first book of their philosophising tackles some of the more complex questions in life…
During 2011, Jarvis managed to produce a single lino-print featuring his new sphere-shaped creations every week, selling the work via a blog and exhibiting the series at Beach London the following year.
At Typo London 2012 he also presented a personal A to Z, drawn live on stage, which touched on his own interest in philosophy – not to mention other favourites such as Conan the Barbarian and doom metal.
That same year Jarvis increased his spherical output to a drawing a day and added his philosophical streak on to the page. Now all 365 of these strips have been reproduced in Spheric Dialogues, which has just been published by Swiss press Nieves.
Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, Aristotle, Kant and even Conan feature. And there’s plenty of existential swearing.
As a toy designer, Jarvis has said that his work is often constrained by production methods; working on exact plans for the toy’s design, adhering to tighter structures. But with the spheres, his drawing style can be much looser.
And much of the artwork Jarvis produced with his previous company, Amos, dealt in reduction, too. His characters were formed from simple lines and his drawing process often involved honing objects down in an attempt to capture the ‘essence’ of something on paper.
So perhaps it’s no surprise that his latest book should concern the existential thought of a group of shapes – they are his most reductive characters, but in Spheric Dialogues, also perhaps his most thoughtful. (OK, thoughtful and prone to occasional violence.)
It’s a rougher approach to drawing that Jarvis has been experimenting with since the publication of his first illustrated storybook, Vortigern’s Machine, which he produced with Russell Waterman in 2006. It’s drawing in a “free and unaffected” way, as he told Dazed and Confused magazine prior to the original show of sphere prints.
Philosophy has always found a home in the cartoon and comic strip, from George Herriman’s Krazy Kat to Charles Schulz’s Peanuts. In just a few panels character’s can question the meaning of life itself and, of course, the existence of their own artist-creator.
In Jarvis’ new book, the spheres get their heads around art, death, being and reality. Well, they are largely all ‘head’ after all.
Spheric Dialogues is published by Nieves ($28), and available from nieves.ch. An exhibition of work from the book is currently showing at colette in Paris (more here), with prints of the work for sale too. James Jarvis’ website is studiojarvis.com.