For quite a few years now, Byron Bay rockers Skegss have been one of the most exciting groups going around the Aussie music scene. For most of this time, their work has been paired with the inimitable art style of Jack Irvine.
Famed for his surreal, endearing, and unique art style, Jack’s work has been in your face for quite some time now, whether it’s staring at your from the racks of your local vinyl dealer, popping up on the shirt of an Aussie music fan, or used as the backdrop to one of Skegss’ iconic live shows.
With Jack Irvine’s profile growing rapidly, he has recently hooked up with the likes of Troye Sivan and Billie Eilish, undoubtedly putting his artwork on the world stage for legions of global music fans to pore over.
Following his recent career milestones, we sat down with Jack for a brief interview, discussing his artistic origins, to how he hooked up with some big-name artists.
How did you first get interested in art?
When I was around eight, I was super into the Video Ezy colouring competitions. I think that sparked my first interest that I can remember.
What were the sort of things that inspired you when you were first starting out?
My dad and his art were a big inspiration. I would go to his house whenever I could and he would show me cool artist, music, and movies, and we would draw a lot.
It was basically my version of art school, it kind of set the base for me to find my own interest and all that.
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Your artwork is heavily associated with music these days, has music always been a strong influence on your creative process?
Yeah, music has for sure, in many ways. I think it’s the fuel to creating art, and different types of music can make me feel certain ways which subconsciously have an effect on the work I make.
How did your association with Skegss first come about?
They came and played mine and Aaron Girgis’ art gallery, which was a small old house in the centre of Cronulla called Space 44.
We used to put on gigs there and they were always crazy – I think their show was the biggest one.
We ended up all hanging there till we passed out, then in the morning got breakfast, and someone suggested I do the art. It was something like that.
What was it like seeing your artwork showing up pretty much everywhere thanks to your Skegss connection?
Really sick, but it was a little weird at first because no one knew who I was but they were wearing my drawings. I’d only really ever had my mates wearing tees I had made, or even being interested in my work, so I was pretty amazed.
Your artwork is slowly becoming an iconic piece of the Aussie music scene, how does it feel being mentioned in the same breath as iconic artists like Reg Mombassa?
I don’t know, I’ve never really thought too much about it.
How did you happen to get involved with Troye Sivan?
I did some work for his younger brother Tyde Levi that was more design-y compared to my work with Skegss. And then Troye saw that and thought it was cool, so his manager reached out to me to make some merch.
You recently designed some merchandise for Billie Eilish, how did that collaboration come about?
A good mate of mine, Robbie Russo, he lives in the US and works at a big merch company. He was in Australia at Christmas and he came to my house and saw some new art I had been working on.
When Billie or her team reached out to them to work on it, Robbie thought of me among some other artists and designers.
I sent off some work to them and then heard back that she liked the style of my art, so she sent me some monsters that she drew and asked if I could recreate them in my style.
What is it like designing something for an artist that’s basically blowing-up the world over? Did you feel any sort of pressure?
I didn’t feel any pressure really, because there was a few artists going for the job. I felt more excitement and was encouraged to even have been asked.
It was a big confidence boost, and I just went for it and tried to make something original that might stand out from the rest.
Despite your own rapidly-rising profile, your artwork always feels so surreal, yet down-to-earth and endearing at the same time, do you feel that’s part of the reason why you’ve resonated with the Aussie public?
I’m really not sure, that’s cool it feels that way. I don’t know why its connected with the people it has, it’s a weird thing and I’m just trying to be as honest as I can when I’m making my art.
Have you got any exciting new projects on the way?
I’m pretty excited to do something art-related for the hardcore fans of Skegss before their show down in Melbourne soon, also continue working on my own art works for a show.