Interview with Jimmy C


James Cochran, aka Jimmy C participated in the graffiti movement in Australia during the early 1990s, and after working on numerous mural commissions and community arts projects, went on to complete a Masters degree in Visual Arts at the University of South Australia with an interest in figurative oil painting. His two interests in graffiti and oil painting converged, leading to the development of Cochran's signature aerosol pointillist style; portraits or urban landscapes painted entirely from blobs of spray paint. This technique developed into what he called the 'drip paintings' and the 'scribble paintings', composed of layers of coloured drips or energetic lines to form vibrant and poetic cityscapes and portraits. Cochran now lives in London and his canvases and walls can be viewed in cities across the world.


Hi Jimmy C, today you selected for MoW 5 of your artworks inspired by music. 

Can you tell MoW what was the music behind your artworks "Rimbaud", "Defy" and "Amsterdam Moon"? What inspired you to create them ?

The painting of Rimbaud was inspired by poetry and obviously directly by the poetry of Rimbaud, mainly "Une Saison en Enfer". Poetry and lyrics in music have always been important to me, so with the poetry of Rimbaud I can make the link to the poetry of Jim Morrison that I also like and who was also influenced by Rimbaud. This piece of music and spoken word poetry - "Ghost Song", seems somehow relevant to the portrait.

The painting "Defy" was part of a series that I did inspired from the riots that were taking place around the world, starting with the Arab Spring uprising. This song by Muse is like an anthem song for revolution, and it certainly motivates me when I listen to it in the studio. It is not only about social revolution but self awareness and a personal revolution. It all begins with the individual in assisting a positive transformation to the world.

The current series of work that I just finished is titled "Nocturnes" and is inspired by two main subjects - the city at night and water. It is common for people to make a parallel to my work with Impressionism, so this piece of music ties in nicely with that idea. Ravel is considered an Impressionist and I have always liked this piece of music which reminds me of trickling or cascading water (it was inspired by a poem with the subject of a water fairy) and I like the magical and ethereal quality of the piece, which connects to the feel of the painting. 

Why is music important to you and your art? 

I listen to music when I paint in the studio and it helps create a parallel world and sometimes a complimentary world to what I am painting. When I paint on the street I like to use music to help me stay in my own world and to help block out some of the noise around me. 

If you had to choose between the artworks presented today, which of your artwork would be your favorite and why?

I could not really say which one was my favourite, as they were all had a relevance at different times for me. 

Can you tell MoW more about the techniques you used. How old is your technique? How did it start? How long does it take you to make an artwork ? 

These works consist of two styles that I call the Drip paintings and the Scribble paintings. They are both a form of impressionistic layering of colour with the spray can. I first developed this technique back in 2004 which at the time I called Aerosol Pointillism. The time to complete an artwork can vary, but interestingly normally on the street it is a lot faster. This is probably because there are often more time restraints when working on the street and you are forced to work quicker, which brings a new energy or dynamic into the work. 

Watch Jimmy C painting in Barcelona

Do you have plans on creating new artworks insipired by music ?

I would like to explore this idea more. I was talking to a dancer the other day about a possible collaboration, and if so, the music would be the key factor. My brother composes music so hopefully we will do a collaborative piece at some stage.

Do you listen to music when you’re working ? If so, what kind of music ?

I do and I have a playlist with a vast variety of music. There was a time when lyrics and poetry were really important to me (the songs of Leonard Cohen and Nick Cave for example) but more recently I'm preferring just the musical narrative structures with a more abstract quality. I have actually been revisiting some classical music, and in terms of narrative structure, Prokoviev's string quartets are incredible. 

What is the song you liked the most lately? The album ? What was the last gig you went to ?

The song I liked the most lately is "Summertime Sadness" by Lana Del Rey

The album I liked the most lately was by Psychemagik

And the last gig I went to was Leonard Cohen at the O2 in London 

Are you a musician yourself ? If so can you tell MoW more about your music projects ? 

I play guitar and I recently started learning the drums, but it is all just for fun really. My brother and my brother in law are real musicians. I will stick with the painting ;-) 

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