After meeting The Kitchen Table Collective as they completed their array of Artistic expression, we stayed local and spoke with artist Junior Tomlin about art, the area and his own unique cyber style, which is on display at Vinyl Cafe, 273 Portobello Road until early 2016.
UD: What was your intention with the exhibition at Vinyl Café?
JT: I knew the owner Jake 20 years ago. We were looking at each other like we knew each other, and when I told him my name, he said ‘That’s it! You did a party flyer for me’.
After that, he invited me to show my work at the venue.
I sometimes call this particular set ‘From Paints to Pixels’. It’s not quite a retrospective because the much older stuff isn’t displayed; it’s all the digital stuff.
I started out working on game packaging artwork, went on to designing rave flyers, then art for music and digital colouring for cartoons.
This is the first time I’ve shown in Ladbroke Grove, where I live. There have been a few pop up galleries in the area, and a show at Selfridges of the original rave flyers. I put this art on display in Wales, at the Kickplate Gallery in Abertillery. I’ve brought it back home.
UD: Was art your first love?
JT: Yes and it’s nice to make a living from what you love. Sometimes I want to draw more, but I have to make a living too and making money depends on how many people see and love your art. Sharing the work is one thing, selling it is something completely different…
When you have a fan base, other people get to see the work and become interested. Local support and committed art lovers both help.
UD: What is the scope of your expression?
I can paint, gouache and acrylic, as well as my drawing and my digital work. With painting you start with a blank space, and then you gradually obliterate the white with your ideas.
Sometimes I get so transfixed on the computer that I forget my paints are right there waiting for me. But I got so tired of doing art for people and not getting it back from promoters, so I prefer computer because all I’m sending them is a file by email and I can keep what I do.
UD: How do you like to categorise yourself?
JT: (Smiling) Digital/Artist.
When you’re in a freshly made building, it hasn’t become its own building yet and you can tell. It needs time. It can be the same with art. Using a computer can create things that look great, but I like to leave traces of pencil marks, so you can tell I’ve done this, it’s not just a computer, it’s not one dimensional.
UD: How has the area influenced you?
JT: I’ve seen things change. Urban decay and renewal is one of my themes. Other elements come in, but here the incoming elements are to the detriment of the people in the area and to the benefit of the people who just want to make money.
Another piece of mine is ‘Church of Woman’ which in a way is a political piece. Without woman there would be no church. They create the people who can follow and build the church’.
(He shows us this striking piece on his I Pad)
UD: Do you work with anyone else?
JT: No…well, I like to bounce ideas off my girlfriend, my dudess as I call her.
UD: How do you see the world?
JT: The world needs art. The media puts ideas in your head which aren’t necessarily correct. There are stratas of truth out there, but you get more truth from people in the street than from a newspaper most of the time.
We need more kindness. You can’t eat money. You only wear one Rolex, sleep in one mansion, so what is the excess for?
Art inspires hope in people, gets them to think…art with a statement inside the art”.
Art is a language that we all speak in our various ways, if you look deep enough within the artist’s expression you can actually see yourself. We were blessed enough to see as well as hear the sounds of the city through the designs of Junior Tomlin. Be sure to do the same and maybe even make them a permanent fixture in your abode. The venue is The vinyl Cafe on Portobello Road and the work will be displayed until January.
Savour a blend of digital now and then that will provoke your deepest thoughts.
By Angel Lewis and Tom Charles