jack greeley-ward is a colectivo futurist

  • Jack Greeley-Ward
  • Animator / Illustrator
  • London, UK
  • Website | Blog
It’s been a while since we’ve done a futurist feature, but couldn’t resist sharing the works of London based Jack Greeley-Ward. We have been following his work since his excellent cover for Emma-Jean Thackray’s Walrus EP back in 2016. Inspired by the sounds of Sun Ra and moving images, Jack’s work as an illustrator and animator is full of strange and curious characters that hint at the existence of “other worlds”. Be sure to check out our interview with Jack below and a selection of some of our favourite works.

CF: Tell us a bit about yourself. How and when did you decide to start a career in animation and illustration?

They both have always been a part of my artistic practice. My films have exhibited in gallery settings and festival screenings, and recently I have been collaborating with musicians in creating visuals for them.

Throughout sixth form I had been drawing and painting as well as doing a little bit of filmmaking/photography. A supply teacher at the time held a little after school screening and introduced me to the films of Len Lye, Norman McLaren and Hans Richter. These films showed me a connection between graphics work and filmmaking, as well as the beauty in installing life into inanimate objects. I animate in a simple way, taking each frame at a time allowing for the past movement to direct the next. I went on to study on the Animation degree at LCC and I haven’t looked back since. I fell in love with the medium and I fell in love with my soon to be wife that I sat next too in the very first lesson.

“When I listen to Sun Ra, the music has some kind of power over me to open up the world of vision”

CF: What or who were some of your early influences and what are you inspired by now?

Early influences came from the New York graffiti artists in the early 80s. There were a couple of things I stumbled across at the same time. A book called Subway Art and a film called Style Wars. The freedom and energy that these guys possessed was enough to get me hooked. I realised I could take my doodles to a wall rather than just sitting on a piece of paper in my room. Scale, speed and immediacy are all brought to the foreground, which has still continued into my drawing practice today.

As of late I have fallen in love with the work several artist-filmmakers. Carmen D’Avino. His beautiful use of colour and witty humour within his kinetic paintings, have been a huge influence. Also, not so long go, I went to an Edge of Frame screening where Robert Breer’s films were showcased. His use of the single frame technique, approaching each frame as a new canvas has been a method I have approached within my own practice. I like how both of these directors’ works have the freedom to control its own affairs, the previous movement directs the next. What’s more they are very very powerful. I could watch a film of theirs and feel a certain emotion towards it. Then see it another time have a completely different reaction.

LONDON jAZZ x LSO from jack greeley-ward on Vimeo.

CF: You designed the cover for Emma-Jean Thackray’s Walrus EP last year. Was it your first music related commission? How did you approach the project and are there any more in the pipeline?

Yes, beautiful Emma asked me to make that cover for her, and yes it was my first music commission. I wanted to do a portrait of a walrus initially. I read that these guys are quite greedy, so I started making a collage of a plate with a huge mountain of its prey. The assemblage wasn’t really working, so I started to draw it instead, after a while I started stripping it back to what you see now. The walrus is there at the bottom looking out into the sea at all the yummy shellfish.

I have just wrapped up another project with Emma. Designing a cover for her latest EP, Ley Lines. Also there are limited editions up for grabs. There is a run of the record where I have drawn directly onto the sleeve rather than it being printed. This approach was fun; it led to some interesting abstract depictions of the original concept. The record is about to drop, so you better put some money to one side and get to the record shops, you guys are in for a treat.

CF: If you could soundtrack your work what would you choose?

Sun Ra, I like his wild stuff. It doesn’t give you time to breathe or think. It throws you into the deep depths of a hurricane of noise. When I listen to Sun Ra, the music has some kind of power over me to open up the world of vision, images and words start flying around my head. When starting a new animation project I listen to him as it helps me start thinking about pace and rhythmic patterns for my animations.

He from jack greeley-ward on Vimeo.

CF: What’s your favourite thing about living in London?

It’s got to be its diversity. For me, it’s like going to the airport and seeing the flight board. You have all of these countries up there and you can dream about where you next want to go. But in fact, living in this city you are exposed to all of those countries and cultures pretty much on your doorstep. I feel very privileged to be able to interact with all of these different communities. I also think London is one big juxtaposition:

It’s old, new.
It’s beautiful, but also ugly.
It can be cold, but also very welcoming.
It can be engulfing, but also leave you feeling isolated.
The list can go on and on.

“I am trying to get in touch with who I am and what I have to say, on top of all of that I am trying to have fun”

CF: Are there any upcoming projects you could tell us about? Any dream projects you’ll like to work on in the near future?

Yes, there are a few projects in the pipeline, I am currently pitching ideas for animated content for some bands. Also, I am very excited, as I have recently been collaborating as part of a collective, which we are soon to launch officially. This is with two beautiful animators, Oscar Carrier-Sippy and Danny Mitchell. We have two projects under our belt now.

I have always dreamt of making backdrop visuals for theatre productions and title sequences for film.

Alongside all of this, I plan to continue to produce purely artistic forms of experimental animation. My latest piece is titled the World Shadow. It is a performance comprising of video projections and live musical improvisation from an ensemble. Its investigation into our awareness of the shadows around us and in particular will give the audience a different perspective on how the environments in the city have been perceived through a different set of eyes. The visual element of the project will be an animation that will explore the movement of shadows. Form, time and space will all be brought into examination in order to portray the transformation of these forms. I have used traditional hand drawn animation techniques, painting with ink onto paper. Once all the drawings have been completed, I shoot them under a rostrum camera and edit digitally on a timeline to produce a finished film.

Animation is my work and my main love. I am trying to get in touch with who I am and what I have to say, on top of all of that I am trying to have fun, and I am beginning to much more than I ever used to.