Jimmy Johns is a self-taught artist. At his studio, he turns humble pots into colourful works of art
Jimmy Johns wore a pair of orange pants seven years ago, which upset the fashion sensibilities of quite a few people in downtown Kochi, especially his parents. “Today you see guys wearing crazy coloured pants and suddenly, it is cool,” he says. Dressed in a tight-fitting white T-shirt and black jeans, gelled hair combed down, thick moustache in place, style, for Jimmy, is the most important thing — the kind of thing that defines a personality. In fact, his engagement with style has a lot to do with his line of work.
Jimmy is a self-made pop-artist, who began painting on a series of pots a year-and-a-half ago. In the porch of his house at Edappally, which doubles as his studio, ‘Creative Fingers’, occupying pride of place is a huge Will Smith pot. The Hollywood star’s face lies spread out on a fat white pot. Caricaturing is Jimmy’s forte, one finds out, as American President Barack Obama emerges on another pot. There is a Rajnikant lookalike and Sylvester Stallone, too. Celebrity faces find an interesting representation in Jimmy’s works. He picks his personalities after regarding them carefully. “I have to feel the depth of their eyes, you know.” When he does pick a subject, his or her eyes, ears and cheeks are the defining factors. “The overall expressiveness of the face, too,” Jimmy explains. Jim Carrey is the next face he has chosen. “His face makes me think of a triangle. The pot will be triangular.”
Jimmy draws his inspiration from a mix of pop-culture influences. He is an ad filmmaker, who runs a company called Ad Minister, and a graphic artist, who briefly considered becoming a fashion designer. He is currently pursuing a course in interior designing and visual merchandising. He is an amateur photographer, too. “I would like to believe that I picked up a bit from everything,” he says. The pots on display at the studio showcase a variety of random images ranging from a light bulb to penguins, motifs inspired by playing-cards, scenery and models showing off designer clothes and make-up. “Fashion is such an intriguing subject; you can keep on drawing from it.” He simulates the proportions of the pots and the images on the computer before he begins work on them.
“Pots are not just for sticking flowers into. They can contribute to the interiors a great deal,” he says. His pots cost between Rs. 1,000 and Rs. 8,000.
He gets his pots custom-made in Nilambur, Malappuram district. They come in unique sizes; the tallest one being about 3-ft.
Pot-making is a long procedure. They are left out to dry for about 20 days and then for another 10 days, they are left inside the kiln.
The pots are then treated intensively before being painted upon. The paintings, Jimmy stresses, done in acrylic, do not fade and are not affected by vagaries of the weather. During the initial stages, he even left some out in the sun and the rain to test their durability.
While most of his works are on clay pots, Jimmy has been working on wood too. His current preoccupation is with clocks. He has designed a few of them on printed synthetic sheets, in different themes.