Jill Slabbert, aka JILJARVIS, has a mind of mystic and magic. Using photographs and images to manipulate her imaginings into characters, scenes and animations, her photomontage art is robotic and mysterious. Her work shows colourful assortments of faces and things and many of her ‘creatures’ look as if they’ve come from a scene in Pan’s Labyrinth – a Spanish film that intertwines the real world with illusionary animation from a child’s dark and mythical world. Jill’s an illustrator, artist and animator, and “an observer of the details in this world”. We interviewed her to find out more.
Tell us about yourself and your background?
As a child I always loved story telling and the characters that tell those stories. When I began illustrating, I realised I could make those characters myself and bring them alive through animation. I have been doing that for about 12 years now. After leaving a business partnership with Inka Kendzia at MemeMotionDesign in 2008, I have been freelancing, working wherever my gypsy consciousness has taken me. At present that is on the North Beach of Durban.
What’s your creating process like?
I don’t have a preconceived idea of anything I make, I like to be the vessel through which that which needs to become physical, creates itself.
Where do you source images for your photomontages?
I am an observer of the details in this world, the images come from photographs I take of things I see around me.
Your work has a child-like innocence about it, but at the same time is dark and mechanical. Could you explain this contrast?
This reality is a balance of contrasts, there is always darkness where there is light. The mechanical world is as beautiful as the organic. I have never let the child within me become quiet. She is always in awe of what she sees everyday in this world.
In almost all your work you emphasise your illustrated characters’ faces and eyes, is there a reason for this?
The most honest form of communication is through the face and eyes.
What do you aim to convey with your art?
I just create what needs to become physical, it’s the observer of those creations that finds the meaning, be it mental, emotional or spiritual.
You were a finalist for the Baobab Children’s Illustrator Award. How does your work differ when you’re communicating to a younger audience?
I don’t really approach work aimed for children any differently than I do for adults. Children are mini adults and adults just grown up children. We are all the same source of energy.
With client work there is always a brief, that does put a filter on what comes through my creative process. But I approach the work the same way as I do my prints, and the results are usually in line with the vibration of the client.
How has your work evolved over time? Have you found that your interests have shifted?
I have become more obsessed with detail, I now like to create work that is as interesting close up as it is viewed as a whole. Worlds within worlds. With my client work I am now only really interested in working on social upliftment projects. It makes me happier.
What are you working on at the moment?
I have just finished an animation with Matchboxology for Levis on HIV education for their employees, which should be published on their site early next year. And I am attempting to illustrate my first graphic novel, about a group of beings who travel the universe, archiving knowledge from the cultures of dying planets.
I am always making new characters in-between my other projects, it feels like there is an infinite number of them that want to become real…