Simple, unique, yet cool would be th words to describe Jamie Browne's art. From frustrating teachers with his doodles to collaborating with the Volcom brand, Jamie's style is all his own and allowed him the freedom to work and drink beer as he pleases. We talk with the talented illustrator who's living his best life.
Freshwater beach here in Sydney.
Free. Cold. Beer.
Sushi or burrito?
I love both but miss the Mexican food I could get stateside so I’ll go with burrito.
What kind of music do you jam to?
I listen to a pretty diverse mix of music ranging from chill 70’s Jazz through to some heavy stoner and doom metal but I would say contemporary psych rock is a pretty consistent mainstay of mine and it definitely feeds into my art the most.
One thing you can’t work without?
Strangest thing in your fridge right now:
A bag of frozen prawn heads from a few Christmases ago.
When did you discover your talent for art?
I’ve been drawing and filling books with sketches & doodles from an early age much to my teachers' frustration but to my friends' delight. There are a few artists in my family and so the encouragement was always there. But it was probably when I noticed the overlap between art, skating and music that I found a place that I naturally fit into. That’s when it clicked that maybe I had something to contribute too.
You are from Australia yet your style is heavily influenced by California surf/skate culture. How did you get into that scene?
Growing up where I did on the beaches of Sydney, there is a huge surf and skate culture that kind of permeates everything. The more I got into skateboarding and the graphics, videos etc, the more I was tapping into its California roots and having lived in both places now, I can say that it’s a very similar vibe and lifestyle.
Are you awesome at skateboarding?
Ha, I wouldn’t say awesome but I enjoy it immensely.
You have had a long standing relationship working with Volcom. How did that opportunity come along?
So, I have to thank my mum for this one ha. Basically, she worked with a lady who’s son worked in the art/marketing dept at Volcom Australia. I got in touch and they started throwing me some poster and tee graphic jobs. I guess they liked what they saw, I got on well with the crew and it eventually grew into a full-time gig. Stoked!
Your illustrations often are accompanied by a play on words or phrases. How do you come up with those? Does the art dictate the pun?
Usually it’s the pun that dictates the art, like if I hear a phrase and notice something in it that I can twist to thread a needle between it and the surf/skate/booze world I inhabit. Otherwise, it’s just me trying to create an interesting visual around an expression or idea that makes sense to me. I love double meanings, illusions, contrasting “Yin & Yang” stuff as well as plain awful dad jokes.
Do you have a favorite piece?
It always changes and I do have a few old favs but right now I really like the skull on skateboard wheels with the babe chilling on the beach within. I couldn’t stop doodling it for ages and it seems to encompass a lot of the themes I like to include in my art.
What type of work are you most interested in doing right now?
Lately I’ve been working on some projects that involve creating a main hero piece of artwork that is then supported by a bunch of similar icons that describe other aspects of an event, venue, process, whatever and it’s these little guys that I’ve been enjoying the most as I love drawing small and trying to distill ideas down to fun & simple “one glance” spot illustrations.
A lot of people have gotten your art tattooed on them, which led you to create the Tattoo Token. Can you explain what that is exactly?
Yeah, I get so stoked to see people having my work tattooed on them and while I’m completely fine with it, I noticed some other artists doing these tokens that are basically a paid licence to have a tattoo of their artwork done. I don’t require people to buy them – it’s completely optional for me but I thought it was a great way for people to support artists for their ideas and gain their blessing to have it tattooed.
What has been the best part about making art for a living so far?
Probably the freedom. I’m not constrained by the normal structures of a workplace. I get to hang with my kids whenever I want. If I’m stuck for ideas, I can go skate or drink a beer on a wednesday morning if I like. I still have deadlines to meet but the time up to that point is mine to balance. Also, I just have fun drawing this stuff.