“Quitting my full-time job was my worst mistake” – It has only been one week since Joseph King left his job running children’s (5-12-year-olds) art workshops along with his sister; the magnitude of what he has left behind has dawned on him. As we sat down in the Photographers’ Gallery’s cafe, just off the busy streets of central London, J.King reflected on the change of direction in his career. “Tutoring gives me an amazing feeling, I want to go back,” he laughs, “but the feeling to create my work and pursue my career as an artist drives me further.”
From a young age, J.King has always had an interest in cartoons and comics, from collecting The Beano comics and Pokemon cards, to watching The Simpsons religiously after school. “My artwork reflects my experiences and all the things I loved growing up.” J.King has turned his art into a full-time business, and has been featuring at various art trade shows across the United Kingdom – he explains how the comic art scene in London is largely influenced by the US and the Asian markets. This stood out to J.King because the majority of work from British-based artists don’t reflect the environment they live in.
Where is the art/animations that reflect his experience; the London experience?
“My artwork reflects different facets of who I am, and my interests. My Ronaldo/Goku vs. Vegeta/Messi piece represents my love for football and Dragon Ball Z, which compares and contrasts the rivalry between Goku and Vegeta, to Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.” Portraying his culture in his work is something J.King feels strongly about; he wants more comics, cartoons, and art that reflect British/London life.
“When I was younger, listening to Dizzee Rascal and Kano was like reading the Bible; the lyrics were gospel – No whip, out the manor linking chicks, that’s slipping, that’s slipping.”
J.King realised the music artist he listened to ignited similar feelings with the heroes in the cartoons he watched. This gave birth to ‘Hood Heroes’ animation – a cross between superheroes and British grime/rap artists.
J.King’s work explores the duality and parallels of his experiences and influences.
“Fantastic Four was the first superhero team from Marvel, and So Solid Crew were the first UK rap/garage group that I listened to, who were successful; so I drew from the two parallels to signify So Solid’s super success.” A lot of young people look up to these musicians, like superheroes, they way they look, talk, and live resonates with them. “These same people love superheroes, however, what are the chances of one becoming the next Batman or Superman?”
J.King’s social media channels are under the alias of Urbanimated, which a lot of people believe that is the name he goes by. “Urbanimated is the term I coined for my art, and other artists’ work that reflects the urban experience.” J.King believes it’s important to distinguish and document his genre of artwork; he wants to create a genre that reflects people who come from a background that does not have diverse mediums that reflect who they are.
“USA and Asian culture is popular, but I feel our culture is very unique and that is something to be proud of”.
J.King learned from working with kids that adults play an important role in children’s development, “if we don’t want our kids to use profanity we don’t use it in their environment.” The subconscious learning that takes place in a child’s environment can influence their attitudes and behaviour towards life; so creating artwork that reflects him is J.King’s way of inspiring the next generation of artists while showcasing a new world to the current anime market.
J.King’s ongoing journey has been challenging and prosperous, “I have come across quite a lot of people who don’t understand the process of my artwork.” An important thing J.King had to learn is that he’ll cross paths with people who don’t see the value of his artistry and not to take their remarks personally. “Their perception of art is relative to their experience, so some don’t understand the reason why I would charge the amount I do for my work.”
On the other hand, J.King has networked, and shared ideas with leading artists in the scene left smiles on the faces of his customers and has taken his art across UK’s illustrious art trade shows. J.King has created a market space for his much-needed art, which is widely appreciated by people of all backgrounds.
“Go full throttle and do as much work as you can; if you put in 50% you will get 50% back!”
J.King is a freelance artist who offers various art services, from animation, advertisement, graphics and commissioned work. If you would like to purchase any of his work, or want to get in contact, visit his website www.josephking.co.uk and follow him on Twitter and Instagram.