How did you get into illustration/design and when did it become a career for you?
I managed to blag a job as a junior designer for a software company with no experience whatsoever while quite young. Dull work but friendly people and great for learning the software skills needed to progress. The more creative stuff came through music and being in and around bands, making posters for gigs and events and whatnot.

How would you describe your style and how did it develop?
Pretty bold, abstract, colourful. I like super sharp clean design and typography but just as happy to mess things up a little. It’s developed purely through experience and doing it every day. Things are more hands-on these days, choosing pen, paint or pencil and paper over staring at screens for hours.

What was the idea behind your cover design?

The Brutalist architecture of the old Yorkshire Building Society building has always fascinated me. A towering chunk of empty unused concrete at the top of town. Nestled between pubs and pound shops, people going about their daily business with it looming over them, pretty stark. It’s a crying shame it’s unused, sadly a common story in town – beautiful abandoned buildings going to rack and ruin.

Some of the client design stuff I do can be quite restrictive and regimented so it’s good to let loose, break the rules and play with texture and colour. Using Highpoint’s brutal aesthetic with Risograph, graphic elements and paint gives it some love and attention, just for fun really.

Is there a project or piece of work you’re particularly proud of?

Loads of gig posters and projects over the years, but I’ve really enjoyed working on a project in York called Vespertine for the past few years. It’s a series of art events at twilight in interesting spaces. Having pretty much free creative rein each month to design something new I would spend a year sending off artwork to the printers and rarely seeing any of it, so when the little parcel of goodies arrives you get to see what’s been achieved and just how much, in one go, that’s pretty cool.

I have a current obsession with Risograph printing and started a new project using the process. Managed to acquire a machine and the kind folks at South Square Centre in Thornton have let me use some space, it’s a lovely warm and friendly growing community and great to be a part of. I love the aesthetic of Riso and the whole process. Being able to go from concept, design and print independently DIY style is really fun and satisfying. Although it’s restrictive, with its quirks, I think that pushes creativity .. steering an old machine and using it creatively with fresh and interesting results compared to the high end glossy commercial print we see every day is rewarding, and if it facilitates the local arts community with a splash of colour it’s all good.

What’s your relationship with Bradford?
Born and bred mate. I’ve always been involved in the music and art scene in some way and love the people. There’s some amazing folk in this town that inspire you to want to grow and be better and just do ace stuff together, generally with an ale in hand along the way for encouragement .. long may it continue!

www.bjthebear.com
Instagram: @bjthebear
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