Interview with JazzCakes

You may remember that we recently posted a ‘call for artists’ for the JazzCakes 100 postcards project. In the news piece we promised that we’d feature an interview with the lovely JazzCakes team and true to our word we caught up with the key artists behind JazzCakes, James and Sarah, for a chat about their current project as well as their relocation to Liverpool…

Cat On The Wall: JazzCakes was born in 2008 and has since spawned several projects including the very successful ‘JazzCakes100’ series. Can you tell us how and why JazzCakes came about?

JazzCakes: It all started when we students and to save money we would stencil T-shirts and give them as birthday gifts to each other and to friends. The first ‘cupcake’ T-shirt was given to our friend Dan at the beginning of 2008 and it looked so good that we decided to make more and try to sell them. That was when we assumed our moniker and began to sell at markets.

COTW: The ‘JazzCakes100’ series is now approaching its second project featuring 100 Postcards. Where did the idea for the series come from?

JC: The idea was initially a project that James was going to do as his personal practice based on the idea of a limited addition. Whereas in a traditional limited addition there would be a run of a certain number of prints and each one would be numbered we thought it would be cool to do a run of numbers that we all different. That then evolved into having 100 different artists working with a number each.

COTW: We noticed that some of the T-Shirts were missing from the final 100. How difficult was it to keep track of all the artists involved and did you learn anything from the experience of organising the first project that you’ll be bringing with you into the 100 Postcards concept?

JC: It was inevitable that we wouldn’t get all of the pieces back. Working with that many artists was a very ambitious thing to do for a first major project and it was tricky keeping track of everything. One thing we have learned is that we need to vet the artists more carefully rather than simply letting anybody take part. With the postcards we’re going through a kind of application process where we will skim of the artists we either don’t like or think will not be suitable so as to get the cream underneath.

COTW: You are now based in Liverpool but have some ties remaining in Cardiff. How are you settling in? Is the Liverpool art scene different to Cardiff? What are the best places to see local art in Liverpool and Cardiff?

JC: We’ve settled in very well in Liverpool. James has got a studio at an artist-led gallery, studio and social space called The Royal Standard and Sarah has just started her course at ALRA. There is definitely a lot more going on art-wise in Liverpool, particularly with the Biennial happening at the moment, its really exciting. As well as the big names in Liverpool such as Tate and the Walker there are loads of little independent places such as The Royal Standard and The Wolstenholme Creative Space. In Cardiff we would always go to the exhibitions at g39 and Tactile Bosch.

COTW: What would you say most impressed you about the work submitted to the 100 T-Shirts project and do you have any hopes or expectations for the 100 Postcards?

JC: The big thing that impressed us about the 100:T-shirts was the diversity, there were so many different styles and interpretations it was incredible. We had an overwhelming response to the project despite us being relative newcomers, it was quite flattering really and the turn out for the exhibition really surprised us. Hopefully the postcards will be just as diverse as the T-shirts if not more so, but we’re also looking for the project as a whole to be a little more refined. We have been advertising the call for applicants in both Cardiff and Liverpool and the response from both areas has been great again. There will be some who took part in 100:T-shirts involved again mixed in with some new faces.

COTW: Will there be any more Guerilla Tea Parties? Are there any other projects planned? What does the future hold for JazzCakes?

JC: We always have other projects in mind that we push to see if something will come of them but sometimes they never reach the surface. We definitely want to do more Guerilla Tea Parties, we’re hoping to turn them into something bigger than previous ones though. We do have plans for other smaller projects too and James will also be spending some time concentrating on his personal practice. With Sarah being pretty much fully occupied with her course at the moment she is dropping back into a more of an advisory role. So at the moment James is doing the majority of the leg work but there may be new faces joining the JazzCakes team in the not too distant future.

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