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“We pick work that has a life after we have made a print. Can we sell that print? Will people like it enough to buy it? It has to have a visual satisfaction.”

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 Jealous Gallery, Crouch End

Jealous Gallery, Crouch End

Jealous Studio Visit: An Interview with Dario Illari - Director

Interview by - Holly Simpson

This week The London Illustration visited Jealous Studio for an impromptu nose and chat with Jealous’ Director Dario Illari about their plans for the LIF. Having just finished a four-day stint exhibiting at Moniker Art Fair and currently in the middle of their weekend at the Affordable Art Fair, Jealous were generous enough to open their doors and allow us to experience first hand the creative energy and expertise behind one of the UK’s most prestigious fine art studios.

LIF: How myself and the Directors of the London Illustration Fair view ourselves is very much as an artists fair. We are here to sell work but most importantly we are here to promote artists and illustration itself. We want artists and visitors to meet one another in a creative and interactive environment. As a high quality studio you are at the higher end of the spectrum but I feel that your expertise, quality and live screenprinting that you do during art fairs is a perfect way to start a conversation about print and illustration. Can you explain how the live printing process works? Can a member of the public come over to you and say, I want this, and you print it live and then they collect it at the end?

 Jealous at LIF2013

Jealous at LIF2013

Dario: No. You cannot just print one and stop. With screenprinting so much of the work is in the preparation, from making sure the artwork is suitable for printing, colour separating, exposing the screens correctly, the meticulous colour mixing, the proofing, spotting the screens and so on. It is a craft.For live printing all this behind-the -scenes work is carried out in the studio so we are ready for the ‘performance‘ shall we say. I really like printing live because it really does demystify the process. As you can see we are a working studio so it’s good to take it out there, let people have a go, talk it through, to make affordable prints and to have fun.

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LIF: Do you have a format for art fairs?

Dario: Yes, for Moniker Art Fair we do. We always print affordable editions that are published by ourselves. We always go thirds with the artist, ourselves and Moniker.For the Royal Academy Original Print Fair PV we always print live with the guests which is fun. We even had Prince Harry and the royal entourage printing our Hell Is Other People print this year.

LIF: How do you find your artists and how do you choose the work you exhibit?

Dario: We do two things, we have paid work from galleries, museums and artists and then in between the paid jobs we publish. We work with MA graduates and we work with artists that we like. When we invest our time and money into making prints, they have to fit into the ‘Jealous’ aesthetic. We sell to galleries and people trust our taste and decision making. As such we spend a lot of time talking artists and College directors, museums and galleries, making sure that we pick work that has a life after we have made a print. Can we sell that print? Will people like it enough to buy it? It has to have a visual satisfaction.

“If it’s good it’s good.”

LIF: Can anyone call you up and ask you to print their work?

Dario: Yes, we are a commercial Fine Art Silkscreen studio. We will give you a quote for producing an edition and talk through the best way to go about this. We are known for very high quality work and a hands on collaborative approach to making editions. We are not a sausage factory that ‘knocks out’ an edition. It may sound a bit twee but we care intensely about what we do. We will argue endlessly over papers, inks, presentation, and how to get the best out of the work. Is that a bit sad?We want the artist or gallery to love what we’ve done. We want the work to sell.People don’t come to use for a bargain. (Pointing to a stack of Caroline Bergvall prints that are sat next to us) This is part of a Tate show at the moment. Caroline came to us because she wanted a very delicate silkscreen print with a hand finished gold leaf. We are a very ‘can do’ experimental studio and people come to us because they know they are going to get what they want.

LIF: You work very closely with graduates on your annual The Jealous Prize and ongoing project Jealous Needs You. Can you tell me a little more about these? Where do you find these graduates?

Dario: The Jealous Prize has been going for five years now. We give a studio residency to one MA student from each of the 8 London art schools. The edition made with us is then launched at Art 14. Today is actually a very important day for Jealous, a milestone I would say. We have just had a meeting with the head of Prints and Works on Paper from the V & A here in the studio to look at the Jealous Prize editions and they have decided to take our Graduate Jealous Prize prints as part of their permanent collection. Yippee.This now means that the V&A will now have all our editions from the start of the Prize and in continuance in the museum for all to see. We are a small and young studio and for us to have this acknowledgement makes us very happy for our artists and gives us a validation that we are on the right path. Jealous Needs You is also very important for us to keep abreast of all the new illustrators and artists that are making their mark. We publish small two colour editions which we then go 50/50 with the artists. This is a continuing project headed by Jess Wilson in the studio and showing at new fresh fairs like The London Illustration Fair is so important to see what is going on and we love the energy that you get from new work.

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LIF: Great news about the V & A! What a fantastic opportunity for artists to have their work shown by an internationally renowned art and design museum. By looking at the artists that you work with I do not wish to tie you to the word ‘illustration’ because you’re not strictly speaking an illustration studio, are you? I can defiantly see a strong fine art influence. What is your selection criterion?

Dario: Yes, exactly. We are a fine art studio in quality and ethos but we apply this approach with everyone we work with. We work with design companies such as GTF, Why Not Ass. and Pentagram and produce editions for many illustrators. The art world now is a different place. It is a time of flux. Damien Hirst and Murakami are designing for Louis Vuitton, Ben Eine doing stuff for museum shows. Designers like Kai and Sunny are having big LA art shows with Shepard Fairey. People are becoming more knowledgeable about art and recognising what is real and valid. When we are publishing we have to like the work and get to know the artist, we have to understand each other. 

LIF: Do you like that art is becoming more interdisciplinary?

Dario: I think art is becoming more of a product. A lot more people are buying art and buying ‘into art’. People buy art for different reasons. To go with a room’s décor, to show off, to make money and my favourite reason, because it moves you in a way that you cannot always explain or rationalise. I don’t really mind why, if it’s good, it’s good. Designers, illustrators and artists work within different parameters. Designers and illustrators love a brief and are good at working to that, where as fine art people view their work from a different position. One is not ‘better’ than the other. Jealous is that cross roads of what art is now. When you make an edition it is about selling. When we work with the MA graduates, we explain to them that they can have integrity about what they do and where they work, and still produce something that people want to buy. It’s about treading a line, juggling commerce and being an artist and having both. You have to feed the eye first, you have to be able to look at something and love it.

LIF: Do you like that art is becoming more interdisciplinary?

Dario: I think art is becoming more of a product. A lot more people are buying art and buying ‘into art’. People buy art for different reasons. To go with a room’s décor, to show off, to make money and my favourite reason, because it moves you in a way that you cannot always explain or rationalise. I don’t really mind why, if it’s good, it’s good. Designers, illustrators and artists work within different parameters. Designers and illustrators love a brief and are good at working to that, where as fine art people view their work from a different position. One is not ‘better’ than the other. Jealous is that cross roads of what art is now. When you make an edition it is about selling. When we work with the MA graduates, we explain to them that they can have integrity about what they do and where they work, and still produce something that people want to buy. It’s about treading a line, juggling commerce and being an artist and having both. You have to feed the eye first, you have to be able to look at something and love it.

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LIF: What happens to the students once you have launched their work at The Jealous Prize. I know you don’t represent artists but do you keep them on your books?

Dario: Absolutely. Every year we launch our prizewinners, previously we have launched these at Christies and then last year we launched then at Art 13 and then this year we will be launch them at Art 14. Everyone who has printed with us stays on our special graduates area of our website. And now we have the added weight that they will be going to the permanent V & A collection. Did I mention that already?

Haha, yes you definitely did. Do you have your own in-house designers and not just print other people’s artwork?

(Background laughter from studio staff). Well yes but by default really. As I was saying Danny is doing his MA and the Royal College of Art in Print Making and Adam is from there too. They are trained artists.Jealous is a gang. Matthew is the heart of Jealous and it’s his printing expertise that has been pivotal to how far we’ve come. Adam is a successful artist in his own right and as the studio Manager has been soimportant in developing the Graduate Prize and along with Nick his assistant has made the studio an efficient and viable concern. Jess is a tremendous illustrator and printer and has really helped in opening up the studio to a new generation of illustrators and designers.Will is a very good artist and meticulous printer. Danny is working part time whilst he’s finishing his MA and hopefully will join the gangfull-time next year as we expand.Joss is the latest gang member. He started as an intern and we have now taken him on. He will become a very good printer. We can tell. Only people who care belong with Jealous. When people ask us what Jealous is about I always say the same thing. World Domination. And I’m not joking.