Book Review

2/14/2018

Jamie Hewlett is arguably one of only a handful of contemporary illustrators whose work is instantly recognisable. He first came to prominence with Tank Girl in the 80s which got picked up by magazines like The Face and rode the wave of a revival of interest in adult comic books. Tank Girl was picked up by MGM who made it into a film which should have been the big break that sky-rocketed Jamie to Hollywood and stardom. Sadly it was a terrible film and it left him scratching around for work with London's magazines following an unhappy stint at DC comics.

Fortunately, his contacts in the music industry led to another opportunity and the ground-breaking Gorillaz art-pop concept band:

"I knew all these musicians because they knew Tank Girl. So I was friends with Graham Coxon from Blur and I was friends with Cass Browne from the Senseless Things, and I knew Steve Mackey from Pulp. They were my friends. Then of course I met Damon and that was the start of that. We met and we wanted to work together and obviously – for an artist and a musician – it was an obvious choice to do a manufactured band. It was an opportunity to experiment with music and for me, it was an opportunity to experiment with my drawing and make videos and stuff."

His enthusiasm is clearly undimmed and he continues to collaborate with Albarn, winning a BAFTA for their animated Monkey sequence for the Beijing Olympic Games and a staging of the Chinese novel Monkey: Journey to the West by Wu Cheng’en. In 2006, he was named “Designer of the Year” by the Design Museum in London, and in 2009 staged an exhibition of prints at the Saatchi Gallery in London.

This coffee table edition from Taschen comprehensively captures Hewlett’s illustrations and his unique creative journey with more than 400 artworks from the Tank Girl era through Gorillaz and up to the present day. The book is packed full of his characters, strips, and sketches all in generously proportioned images so you can really appreciate his craft. The size of the pages are matched by their number which serves to portray how incredibly energetic he has been through the sheer volume of his work.

Author

Will Bentley