Nick Jobbings: illustrator

17 Jun

Everyone has a story. Meet Nick Jobbings who started his career learning how to draw and create buildings, but after switching to illustration has a portfolio that includes graphic novels and the white walls of Finsbury Park. Interview by Nicola Baird.

Illustrator Nick Jobbings with his version of Churchill outside Blighty, 34-36 Blackstock Road.

Illustrator Nick Jobbings with his version of Churchill outside Blighty, 34-36 Blackstock Road. With most projects “I draw in pencil and then use photoshop to digitally colour.”

“I came to London from Leeds in 2005. I’d fallen in love with architecture after visiting Glasgow and seeing Charles Rennie Macintosh when I was doing my A levels. So I studied architecture and was doing a postgrad at Westminster University. But despite all that studying – five of the six years – I decided I didn’t want to be an architect. I began studying architecture just as computer aided design (CAD) was coming in. You don’t need to be able to draw to do architecture now…” Nick Jobbing’s doesn’t say this glumly, quickly pointing out that, “the skills are transferable…”

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Those early years in Islington must have been a tough time for Nick as he was living above the now closed George Orwell* pub on Essex Road. It famously had “lots of noisy lock ins” and (this was before the smoking ban) such inadequate insulation that cigarette smoke would curl its way through the pub’s ceiling so that Nick’s room looked as if it was steaming. Sleep wasn’t easy.

brown paper is of a woman on a bus with a big faux fur hat the type of which they wear in russia. (c) Nick Jobbings

Brown paper sketch by Nick Jobbings of a woman on a bus with a big faux fur hat. (c) Nick Jobbings

Shared work space
Now 34 he’s living just over the Islington border – in Wilberforce Road, N4 – and spends his days at Blighty café in the upstairs shared office space used by a mix of permanent renters and hot deskers.

“I tried having a studio at the Print Club, Stoke Newington, but it was quite expensive. Then I worked at home but got cabin fever on my own, so I came here when it was just opening and worked. I got talking to Chris Evans who runs Blighty – he’s a great one for reciprocity,” he says finishing a latte, “so I started doing some design work here and also do some part time as a barista.”

This design work includes flyers and menus, but also the striking V-for victory portrait of Winston Churchill on Blighty’s exterior which helps brighten up Finsbury Park or ‘krapy rub snif’* as Nick jokes.

Nick Jobbings: I cycle around Islington – London is amazing for cyclists compared to Leeds, there are so many cyclists you feel safe. But I went over to Rowan Arts on Hornsey Street and there was nowhere to lock my bike. The developers spent all that money on tower blocks but obviously bikes were not an important consideration.

Nick Jobbings: I cycle around Islington – London is amazing for cyclists compared to Leeds, there are so many cyclists you feel safe. But I went over to Rowan Arts on Hornsey Street and there was nowhere to lock my bike. The developers spent all that money on tower blocks but obviously bikes were not an important consideration.

Places Nick Jobbings likes in Islington (or close)

  • Cass Art is really great for paper and sketch books. Cowling & Wilcox on Holloway Road is good too – they’re chains but very affordable. Jacksons is a good independent art supplier near Shacklewell.
  • I go to the Comic Forum at North Library, Manor Gardens aimed at people who read graphic novels. Claire runs it and has a feminist take on graphic novels. I like the way Islington libraries stocks graphic novels, because they are expensive.
  • Atom is a gallery that has just opened on Stroud Green Road. It’s got a screen printing room at the back.
  • Finsbury Park is becoming an arts hub with the Park Theatre, John Jones and the still-being-built University of the Arts accommodation. We’ll soon have lots of arty students hanging around! And there’s Blighty too –I’m applying for Arts Council grants to run workshops for poster and book/comic/zine design.
  • Union Chapel, by Highbury Corner does a daylight music series on weekends – they are free concerts, often experimental music.
  • Camden Collective has created a mini market off Camden Road. I’m interested in pop ups and meanwhile occupancy*.

It’s all about drawing
Nick also set up Blighty’s life drawing sessions back in 2013, which are still held every Thursday. “Drawing is so enjoyable when it just flows. The life drawing is three hours, with a break, so you can really get into it. And there’s healthy competitiveness among the 15-20 people who come.”

The player is professional british table tennis player Darius Knight.

Professional British table tennis player Darius Knight at the Brunswick Centre. (c) Nick Jobbings.

Throughout the interview Nick’s holding a pen, which he moves around as if trying to capture the conversation. On the tube he always carries a pencil and A6 brown pocket-sized book to capture people travelling, just in case he needs a pose for projects he’s working on. Recent big jobs have included a series of portraits celebrating ping pong players at the Brunswick Centre. And while making an illustration of Jaeger’s flagship Chelsea store a passer-by asked him to make a portrait of her Belgravia home and then another as a wedding present.

Nick Jobbings picture is copied from a war photograph. (c) Nick Jobbings

Nick Jobbings illustration is copied from a war photograph. (c) Nick Jobbings

He’s also been enjoying researching architect Edward Lutyens World War 1 for a crowdfunded book, To Arms published by Limehouse Comics, run by two of his friends.

“It’s stories you might not have come across,” explains Nick who has an absolute passion for graphic novels. The war theme is being continued thanks to his involvement with a Rowan Arts project collecting commonwealth stories from WW1 during the 100 year anniversary.* Turns out Nick grew up near RAF Menwith Hill airbase, not far from Harrogate, and still enjoys hearing stories of derring do from his 90-year-old Grandad who flew planes from base to base in WW2. “Those pilots didn’t have any training. They just watched, learnt and went,” says Nick in genuine awe.

It’s my turn to be impressed: Nick shows me some of his work on the laptop and gives me a peek into his series of on-the-tube pencil sketches. Nick is so versatile – as able to spray paint a vast Clementine (Churchill’s wife) on the Blighty office wall as create an Urban Fox motif for a fashion label or comic frames for a graphic novel. Definitely an illustrator to watch – do follow Nick using the links below.

Find Nick Jobbings work:
https://instagram.com/lightning_bolt_kid/
http://nickcomicart.tumblr.com/
http://aminorfactotum.wordpress.com

http://cargocollective.com/prntscrn/About-Prnt-Scrn 

Blighty, 35-37 Blackstock Road, N4, is open weekdays 7.30am-7pm, weekends 8.30am-5pm. Life drawing on alternate Thursdays costs £5 see the website events section. Portrait drawing (also held on Thursdays) is free. Call in and ask the café staff for more details.

You can also read an interview with Blighty’s founder, social entrepreneur Chris Evans here.

  • Words*
    George Orwell rented in Canonbury Square, N1 while writing Nineteen Eighty-Four and as Animal Farm was published. The George Orwell pub at 382 Essex Road has closed, but the venue is still a pub. It’s now the Hop and Glory – a glorious craft beer pub with a very relaxed vibe. Read more about George Orwell in Islington at this Islington Faces interview with George Orwell walk leader and history expert Andy Gardner.
  • Krapy rub snif – is of course Finsbury Park spelt backwards.
  • World War One (WW1) – 1914-1918.
  • meanwhile occupancy – temporary use of empty shops or land, often for creative purposes (similar to a pop up) while the owners sort out finance/planning/schedules. Boxpark and the Filling Station in Shoreditch are well-known examples. See article here.

Over to you
If you’d like to nominate someone to be interviewed who grew up, lives or works in Islington, or suggest yourself, please let me know, via nicolabaird.green at gmail.com. Thank you.

If you liked this interview please SHARE on twitter or Facebook or join the Facebook group. Even better follow islingtonfacesblog.com (see menu top right) or follow me on twitter @nicolabairduk

This blog is inspired by Spitalfields Life written by the Gentle Author.

If you enjoyed this post you might like to look at the A-Z  index, or search by interviewee’s roles or Meet Islingtonians to find friends, neighbours and inspiration. Thanks for stopping by. Nicola

 

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