‘Disney UK Celebrates 90 years of Mickey Mouse with GUAP’

In an exciting collaboration which forms part of Disney’s global art initiative Jimmy C, most famously known for his David Bowie work in Brixton, and Michael Bosanko, famed for his vibrant light street art, have been commissioned by Disney UK to create Mickey Mouse inspired artworks. As well as handpicking 10 exceptional emerging UK-based artists, to create pieces that feature the famous icon in each of their individual styles as a way of celebrating 90 years of Mickey Mouse. I had the opportunity to speak on behalf of GUAP, to the renowned artist that is, Jimmy C.

I’m more than certain you’ve come across viral videos of artists across the globe creating masterpieces from spray cans, right? If it left you pretty speechless, you’re not alone!Eager to have a conversation with the artist who creatively disrupted and developed the underground graffiti movement of Australia during the early 1900s, and now has his work showcased around the globe, it only felt right to ask Jimmy to takes us through his career.

“I remember always drawing as a child, my official engagement through art you could say, was through graffiti back in Australia when I was a teenager, back then the graffiti scene was still underground. Looking back at my early work when I was 16 years old, I found a piece where I painted Donald Duck – that was my first spray paint Disney encounter.
I went through the graffiti movement and then transitioned to mural commission work, and at a similar time I went to art school and then did a four year degree in visual arts and then a masters. During this time I had an interest in figurative paintings, using oil paintings and painting with a brush. The style I work in now is kind of a merge between my early graffiti days and everything I learnt in art school – known as ‘drip paintings’ and ‘scribble paintings’.
What I create now is definitely ‘Street Art’, which has evolved since I started. I work with a spray can most of the time, even if I am painting on a canvas or a wall outside.”
Being a lover and contributor of arts and culture, I’m always intrigued about what influences an artist to express their art in the way they do, so it only made sense to embark down this trail of exploration with Jimmy – buckle up for a journey!
There have been many different artists who have influenced me. Back when I was starting out, it was the graffiti artists in New York that inspired me and the art which surrounded the city. Then later, I was interested in Salvador Dali and surrealism. It was when I went to art school that I got a bit more classic; I got into baroque painters from the 17th Century, like Carvaggio and Velazquez. I loved what they were doing with light, shadow and drama in their work. Now over the last few years, it would be what the other streets artists are doing around the world, that I draw inspiration from.”
With such a diverse background of art influences, it was only natural Jimmy would want to describe what the core of his art represents.
“At heart, my work is about connection or interconnection and how we connect with the world around us. The starting point is that dot (referring to the circles in his paintings). That dot becomes the link to how we connect to everything, to each other, to nature, to the universe, to planets, to atoms on a micro scale or massive scale. The dot is very symbolic in my work and that’s the underlining statement in all of my paintings.”
Knowing the conversation had just arrived at the token life source of the artist’s work, it was pivotal to hear what existing paintings evoke the mantra shared.
“I’ve got two different paintings which I’m really happy with, that convey something strong; they both happen to be in Australia thinking about it. The first is of a female figure looking down. I wanted to make her look like an nurturing, indigenous woman, taking on a mother earth-like persona. It’s all about connecting to the earth and connecting to nature around us, she has energy coming from her heart in the painting.
The heart is another theme which pops up in my art work, it’s all about the dots coming off the heart, and it’s like energy coming off the heart. So that was one piece I was really happy with, just in terms of the colours and the meaning behind it.
Then there’s another one, I actually took a chance and did something different than I usually would and really liked it. It’s got a bit of a Dali link to it actually.”
I wondered if there was a process behind Jimmy’s work, and as expected, it doesn’t generally come together at the first attempt. Here’s an exclusive insight into Jimmy’s studio process.
Normally there’s a fair bit of planning and preparatory sketches. I find that if I’m nearing the final piece of a painting, it would’ve taken me five attempts to get to that, lets say ‘masterpiece’, do you know what I mean? Sometimes if you are lucky you can pull off a really nice painting out of nowhere, which can happen, though it’s better for me to work towards it.
Painting on the street you learn to get used to having strangers watching your art, sometimes around 10 people watching you at a time, and you learn to deal with it. In the studio I like that time to work completely alone and just focus on my own rhythm. I’ll at times put my headphones in and select different playlists, I need the right mood, a lot of the time, the music I like listening to comes into my work, which sets the vibe.”
On the lines of music, if you didn’t know about Jimmy’s mural in Brixton, London, now is a great time to understand the magnitude of what art can represent. In 2013, David Bowie was the source of inspiration behind today’s famously known mural, spray painted by Jimmy. 2 years on from the passing of an icon in our culture, I wanted to understand how this impacted him.
“Despite the tragic circumstances of everything before David Bowie died and after. It was still very touching and beautiful the way fans came together from all parts of the country to show tribute and celebrate his life and his music in Brixton. For my art work to be a part of that legacy, the backdrop for that moment is really nice. It’s connected me to many people.”
When culture opens a labyrinth of portals for life to live on after a pioneer has passed, it’s mesmerising to think of the power it holds, Walt Disney being an example of this. In celebration of 90 years of Mickey Mouse, I was keen to hear how Jimmy created his version of Mickey.

“Disney had an influence on me as a young child enjoying the cartoons, it’s easy to think Mickey Mouse and that’s all but there’s so much more to it. I felt impacted from a young age at the artistic approach behind the cartoons and Mickey Mouse, which are really strong and powerful stories. I find it’s quite an amazing artistic legacy that Walt Disney as an artist created and has left us with.

Atomic Mickey – which is the name of my piece, retains his energy, and as a persona, in my painting, he’s bursting with energy. I had to go back and relive the history a little bit and I had to find something that I thought would work with my style; the right look, the right attitude. I took inspiration from the early Mickey’s – the raw, black and white. I took a Mickey from the early 1930s-1940s period and then I just worked it into my style and feel.

 

I could identify with what Walt Disney was doing at the time, as a young man, a talented artist, with something to prove and taking lots of risks back then, was really where the evolution of Mickey came from. What was challenging for me at the start when I got asked to be a part of the process was how I would incorporate my style, because my background of painting is more figurative with the human figure, painting portraits, so for me to go back to 2D, comic book style, was a challenge but I’m happy it’s worked out.”

If you’re an artist in any medium, here’s a few words Jimmy’s shared for you to keep going.

“Remember it comes down to trusting the process. There are up and down days, but tapping into self-belief is the heart of it all. Every artist is different and has something individual to offer. The pressure and distractions will come, but allowing yourself the space and patience to grow is essential, and then it will work its way.”

Don’t miss the nostalgic chance at seeing the ‘Mickey’s UK Art Collective Exhibition’ this weekend, where you can also see the amazing work of; Michael Bosanko, Ashton Attzs, Jazz Stan, Alexandra Krusberg, Tenatsa Borerwe, Brook Tate, In Search of Sam, Carl Beazley, Sam Adele, Pal Kumar and Fred Copin.  – Until then, check out the gallery of pictures of what to expect!

For info on the event and location follow the link https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/mickeys-uk-art-collective-exhibition-tickets-51813346113

Stephanie Ospina

Multimedia Journalist | Content Editor & Producer | Creative Conceptual Copywriter

Creative Freelancer in the Broadcast and Digital Industry @ospinamfj

Online Editor @GUAP | s.ospina@guap.uk

View all posts