We sat down with James Kingman to chat about how he has learned to embrace spontaneity in his artworks, his experiences with AI, and the lucid dream that kicked off his newest series of portraits.
JAMES: Where I least expect it - and I like it that way. I don’t like to chase ideas or inspiration, if that makes sense. I find, with myself, that if I spend too much time trying to think of ‘ideas’, I tend to funnel my thoughts, and what comes out can be forced or contrived. I prefer to listen to the random ideas and thoughts that pop up when I least expect it - those are the ideas and inspirations I love the most as they feel more organic, spontaneous and unconstrained…they can also be total nonsense but that’s half the fun, isn’t it?
JAMES: I like the way that pop culture communicates to a broad spectrum of people. That’s what inspires me the most about it, the ability to reach out with it. As much as I like to inflict my personal opinions or humour in some of my pieces, it’s nice to be able to connect with as many people as possible - although that isn’t my absolute ambition.
JAMES: I’ve always wanted to be an artist. Making art is what I’ve always done in my spare time and I knew there would be a point in my life where I’d want to turn that ‘spare time’ into ‘full-time’. I didn’t come from a particularly poor upbringing and I consider myself lucky in a lot of ways but I wasn’t exactly always comfortable, shall we say. So not having that financial security and having to work all hours have been a blocker. I’m also reaching a bit of an age milestone, and looking at what my next life-chapter looks like and working towards that. So to wrap up that question more simply, I’ve always wanted to be an artist - it was just a matter of when could I be one.
JAMES: Good question. Well in my latest series, ‘Electric Dreams’ the people in my portraits do not exist - they are created with AI, allow me to explain a little more. The series started with one piece, originating from a lucid dream I had. I began trying to recreate what I saw, piecing together the loose memory by cobbling together various images in a digital collage of sorts. I was toying with the idea around what influences dreams and reality. Life can influence dreams but can your dreams influence reality (I was reading a lot of Philip K Dick at the time, forgive me).
This led me to experiment with AI and the capabilities that unlocks. The creative process reached a nice circle when it became clear that I was toying with the imagination of a machine, like in my own lucid dream but on a more collaborative level. These models do not exist in reality, only in the dreams of the AI and the commands I give it - these are the Electric Dreams between the AI and myself.
JAMES: I would say there’s a couple of styles of work I produce at the moment - one that’s a little more artistic and another that’s more graphical. The graphical outputs are quite attached to my designers taste. My desire to communicate simply and directly from a design point of view influences those pieces.
JAMES: I’m not necessarily sure how much has changed stylistically, it’s only been 2 years since I pulled my first screen print. What I can say is that from a technical perspective I have improved over the past 2 years. I’ve been pushing myself quite a bit this year, which has seen a bit of a pause with new pieces produced whilst I develop new techniques that have challenged me (when I say challenged, I mean caused me to swear profusely, repeatedly).
JAMES: I will be creating more original pieces, that’s for sure. I’ve really enjoyed working on new substrates and mediums. Doing that has opened a lot of doors and posed many creative questions, so I’ll carry on pushing in that direction for sure. That doesn’t mean there will be less prints created…the question I’m asking myself is how will creating originals first influence how I screen print? It’s an exciting question and I’m enjoying playing with the answers.