James Jarvis: An A–Z of James Jarvis

James Jarvis is one of a kind.



Trained as an illustrator he designs toys but also coca cola cans for its 150th anniversary. His heart belongs to drawing – so it happens that he draws a comic strip every day. He decide not to present a conventional talk but surprised us with a live hand drawn A to Z of his own life. To draw an idea on a piece of paper is his purest form communication.

The live illustration performance today started with A for ANGST and finished with ZZZ… (a cartoon sphere that falls asleep). In the meantime we learn about his life and his thoughts that also influence his drawings. For example, he likes the idea of the cartoon characters having real feelings. Drawing is the fundamental thing he does, he thinks about and questions it.

R for reality was an interesting one: It reflects how he creates reality by starting to draw. He summarises his drawing session with the statement that for him cartoon is the highest form of art.

Not much can be added to that. To understand the artist, you need to have a look at his work.


James Jarvis

His iconic toy figure 'Martin', unwittingly helped to start the 'designer' toy phenomenon in 1998. Born in London in 1970 and raised on a diet of Richard Scarry, Hergé, Judge Dredd and Albert Camus, Jarvis studied Illustration at the University of Brighton and the Royal College of Art, graduating in 1995. Since then he worked hard on establishing himself as a graphic artist of international repute. Together with Russell Waterman, Jarvis established his toy company Amos in 2002 and has Amos has since released nearly 100 character toys including the unique King Ken and the mysterious and existential YOD. In 2006 Amos published Jarvis and Waterman's comic-book adventure story Vortigern's Machine and the Great Sage of Wisdom, in 2007 a collection, James Jarvis Selected Drawings. In 2012 Amos celebrated 10 years in business by releasing a final toy, the Generic Character, along with a book and exhibition in Japan. Besides Jarvis directed an animated short movie, Onwards, in collaboration with Richard Kenworthy. In 2011 Jarvis published a graphic novel, De Profundis. Jarvis is currently drawing a daily cartoon strip, Spheric Dialogues. He lives and works in London with his partner and two children. Although they are not cuddly in a classic sense, Jarvis‘ figures got to heart. At TYPO London he will demonstrate, how he assembles his touching portfolio.

By: Sandra and Julia / Graphic Birdwatching