We're thrilled to welcome back our good friend and artistic collaborator, Jens Wagner, as part of our Peaceful 20th Anniversary series.
From our initial connections in Hamburg's vibrant scene to our subsequent projects, we've always admired Jens's unique perspective and captivating style. He has a remarkable ability to weave stories into beautiful illustrations, capturing emotions and complex ideas with visual simplicity and power.
Remember "The Art of the Terraces" at the Walker Art Gallery? Jens's stunning illustrations, pulsating with the passion and energy of football culture, captivated fans and critics alike.
We're beyond excited to have Jens back in the driver's seat for this special anniversary project. Prepare to be blown away by his vision!
INTERVIEW WITH JENS
PH - What were some of your early influences as an illustrator? What kind of art did you enjoy creating?
JW - I have always been interested in comics. It started with Asterix and Lucky Luke when I was around five or six years old and then I got my first Tintin comics by Hergé when I was seven or so and I was fascinated by the stories this unique Ligne Claire style. I think this is still my biggest influence. But when I look back to the time I was around 15 or 16 I must say that record covers had also been very important to me. Everytime I went in a record shop and all the new record releases had been displayed on the walls that was always an exciting experience. In my opinion record shops had been the art and design museums for kids.
PH - How did you develop your unique style of illustration?
JW - Beside comics I have also been inspired by old advertisements from the 50s and 60s. They combine illustrations and text in a way that is getting more and more lost. And bringing all this together, comics, vintage illustrations and graphic design that is basically what my style is.
PH - What are some of your favourite projects you've worked on? What makes them special to you?
JW - My favourite project has been with no doubt the "Art of the Terraces" exhibition which took place from November 22 to March 23 in the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool. I was one of the four co-curators and we were planning the exhibition for over six years until it was shown in this beautiful museum in Liverpool. The exhibition had been about the casual movement but also about fan culture in general. I had eleven paintings and one print in the exhibition and it made me very proud that my artworks had been displayed just a few steps away from artist like Monet, Turner, Degas and other famous artist of the last centuries.
PH - What challenges have you faced as an illustrator? How have you overcome them?
When you work as a freelancer you never really know how much you have to do in the next days, weeks and month. That makes it very difficult to know how much money you will earn. Sometimes I am working for over 20 hours in front of my computer without a break and then there are times when I don’t really have so much to do for one or two weeks. I think this is what you have to accept when you are a freelancer. This is more or less an ongoing process that you never really overcome.
PH - What advice would you give to aspiring illustrators?
I started directly as a freelancer after I finished university. When I look back now I think I probably should have worked as a full time employed graphic designer in an agency for a few years to get more contacts and to know more about the pricing and all that. It is not just about talent it is also about contacts and contracts.
PH - What are you working on now? What are your future goals as an illustrator?
Currently I am working on two designs for Peaceful Hooligan´s 20th anniversary. Beside this I have to do what my customers want me to do and I am also working on an exhibition in the future. But therefore I still have to do a lot more paintings on canvas.
PH - What is the most important thing you've learned as an illustrator?
While I was studying I was working on construction sites to get some money to afford my student life. This was hard work and I just did it for the money. I always respected people who are doing their job day by day but don’t get any appreciation for what they are doing in the end. The only time the workers got a feedback from their bosses was when they have done something wrong but never when they made a good job. I have know made my hobby to my profession and I get a lot of positive feedback from my customers. This is something which is sometimes more motivating and satisfying as the money you get for the job.
PH - Thanks Jens