Cai, Emma and myself recently attended an arts conference at @Bristol, on Disability Led arts hosted by two organisations; the Bristol and Brighton Steering Groups. Designed to inform and inspire the public on disability within the arts today, the conference was attended by people nationwide.
During we met Joff, the events graphic artist who caught our attention right from the start of the day. So, we eventually managed to corner him and fire a few questions his way.
Here is the conversation we had about ‘Sub-Doodling’, press ups and Lady Gaga..
Joff, we thought you would be an incredibly interesting and inspiring person to interview, as Young Arnolfini is all about making art more accessible to young people and today really has opened up our eyes to disability within the arts.
I’ve been drawing all time, the whole time.. all my life.
So are you a full time illustrator?
No, I’m not good enough to do that, I can’t draw buildings or vehicles very well!
Oh no, you shouldn’t consider those things as limitations!
Well…. I like doing my press-ups so.. wait what? Sorry what was the question?!
[There’s a lot of laughter at this point as Joff is obviously distracted as he watches people walk by that he could be drawing..]
The question was ‘are you a full time illustrator’?
Ermm I draw a lot of the time, like a lot of the things I do, I do in drawings but I’m not really an illustrator because you have to be able to draw buildings..
There’s no rules to illustration! Can you speak a bit about your work and your style? Do you think you have a particular style?
My style for these kind of events, when I’m documenting things, I’d say is actually quantity not quality! I can do a lot of drawings but a lot of them are pretty bad but as long as I can get the feeling across of what is vaguely going on at the event.
So would you say your style is fast paced and doodle like?
It’s like ‘sub doodle’..
That’s a cool description of it! So do you think that your disability affects you in any ways, positively or negatively?
Ah, that’s a good question.. Er, well maybe it makes people be a bit nicer to me! They’re more forgiving of the not very good likenesses in my drawings! Erm, I don’t know.. well, no.. I don’t know! Sometimes I’m probably a bit more messy than I would be, you know, like if I’ve got a big pile of paper, maybe I’ll drop a few more sheets than someone with a normal hand.. When I’m doing my press ups I have to put a book under my stump to make it the right height!
Do you think anyone can draw?
Do you think everyone should draw?
Yes as well! Definitely!
Do you think thats part of where your practice comes from? From drawing everything, you just get better and better at documenting?
Yes, I love it when other people draw! In fact, Sarah did one of the drawings today, I got her to do it because I got bored of it..
What advise would you give a young person with a disability who would like to go into the arts? Especially drawing, as we have been watching you all day and you have such confidence to just approach people and start drawing them.
Just draw. I know some of these people here, mainly because I’m a huge fan of their work.. I’m a huge fan but not really into contemporary art so much.. but I just really love people who draw! I don’t really know what I’m talking about.. Some people do really realistic, detailed pencils drawings of Lady Gaga.. what am I talking about, I don’t know..
You’re talking about really realistic, detailed pencil drawings of Lady Gaga to an illustrator who does detailed pencil drawings and portraits! Cai has actually drawn Lady Gaga..
Have you?! It’s like two ends of the same string linking up! I can’t draw Lady Gaga.. I can draw a meat dress but I can’t draw the face.. Sorry Cai!
If you could give your 16 year old self a piece of advise, what would it be?
Be nice to your mum. No I was quite nice to my mum.. I’d say don’t talk as much! Id say that to myself now too!
Have you ever experienced any discrimination?
What because I’ve got like one hand? You mean?
Er nah not really.. people are nice!
People are nice to me a lot too, I think it’s my height! I’m short and I think people pity me!
Oh yeah you are quite short!
We really loved all the illustrations Joff created, and below are only a selection of all the ones he created. There were so many, it was hard to choose! Take a look:
Thanks for reading,