Behind the Scenes with James McBreen

Name:
My name is James McBreen and I run a production and design company called Overland Originals.

Where are you from and where are you based?
I’m from the UK. From a fairly small town called Hitchin in Hertfordshire – somewhere between London and Cambridge. I moved away about 10 years ago to study American Studies at Nottingham University and then spent the last six years living in Berlin. I relocated to Lisbon at the start of September.

Berlin is an incredible city and I had an unbelievable time there, but it’s a very intense place! There’s a thriving creative scene, but I think I needed to get out and have a bit of a breather. If you live in a city long enough it can almost feel like it’s part of your DNA. I decided quite impulsively that I wanted to move on and change my creative environment a bit as I edge into my thirties.

What do you do and what are your influences?
I run a very small one-man company that produces video, illustration and motion design. I’ve always been a bit of a jack-of-all-trades in an audiovisual sense. I used to worry that it was a negative thing, but I’ve come to realise how much the skills and creative process required for each medium inform the others – and push me to be a better artist and designer overall. They all allow me to tell little visual stories. I can lean towards a particular form of design or production depending on which story I’m trying to tell – or use a combination of all of them.

I honestly get inspired by anything. I’m a massive sponge. I’d say that my three biggest creative influences in my life are David Hockney, Keith Haring and Christopher Isherwood. Bold and colourful and queer, great sense of humour, and engaging storytelling with a subversive political undertone.

Can you tell us a little more about why you choose to use the format you do?
I have never been able to settle on one format. My creative process is completely random, but I think I mostly consider the response I want to provoke first and then choose the format which best takes me to that outcome. I like projections and screenings because you can have an immediate impact on the space you’re in and get a realtime response from the audience. Saying that, I also think social media can be a great format for visual storytelling. I was very very late to the Instagram party and have only been posting since the start of September, but I’m so excited by the possibilities it provides for visual art and interaction with audiences.

Is there a specific piece that you’re particularly proud or fond of? Why?
I’m very fond of the piece that I’m working on for Garden. It’s been very fun to make. It will be interesting to see how it goes down.

[Gardener’s Note: It went down extremely well, giving the Arroz backroom the spooky makeover it needed.]

What is the core concept of the exhibition you’re displaying at Garden?
I guess wanted to play around with the idea of club visuals a bit. People in Berlin take clubbing very very seriously. It’s the best place in the world for nightlife and I’m very happy that they do take it so seriously, but there’s a lot of rules, a bit of a uniform and a kind of unspoken, but also quite outspoken, code of ethics about how people should party. I think I feel a bit more freed up here – so I’ve run with that and gone for something that just makes me laugh, to be honest.

Do you have any other projects outside of what you’re displaying at Garden? What are they?
There’s quite a lot of stuff bubbling under. Everything is all very fresh and new and exciting in Lisbon for me at the moment, so I’m just kind of getting my head around the scene and starting to get some wheels in motion.

Have you got any upcoming shows that Garden Collective members should check out?
Yes! I’m co-hosting an event with the Lisboa Social Press on Saturday 14th December. We confirmed it today and I’m very excited. It’s a gorgeous printing studio right in the city centre with a really lovely atmosphere. They’ve given me free rein to put on an interactive showcase of the work that I produce through Overland Originals. There’s gonna be screenings, live performances, live printing, food, sangria and other stuff. Can’t wait. Expect your invitation in the post soon!

Anything else you want to tell us about?
Yes, please follow me on Instagram! @overlandoriginals. I’m still a bit of a social media noob so bring on the followers. There’s also an overview of some of my work on my website at www.overlandoriginals.com

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