At SOLO we love discovering artists. Throughout our 10 issues, names that we admire and others that we have discovered along the way and that now belong to our list of favorites have collaborated with us. Jay Daniel Wright has collaborated in several issues illustrating the special booklets inside the magazine. But not only that, he also designed an exclusive t-shirt for our ongoing collection Read Coffee, Drink Mags that you can purchase in our online store. For those of you who don't know Jay, he works as an illustrator / designer and maker in Berlin. His clients include the New York Times, OkCupid, Moog Synthesizers, Ace and Tate and The New Yorker to name a few. In this interview he talks to us about the language of his work and how he relates to the world through his works. Of course, he talks to us about coffee and gives us a preview of his future projects.
Jay's design for the Read Coffee, Drink Mags collection is available in our online shop
SOLO Your illustrations often resemble a pictogram. Is there an intention to use a universal and simple language behind your drawings or is it a purely personal style choice?
JAY It didn't start out like that, but shortly after I finished my studies I noticed a kind of visual world starting to form. Motifs and symbols started to repeat in my sketchbooks. A lot of the motifs like the tree, the door or window are motifs from my childhood that repeat as I revisit memories through drawing and sculpture.
SOLO You have collaborated with SOLO magazine, which talks about specialty coffee, in issue 9. What role does coffee play in your day to day?
JAY It's funny because for years I was allergic to caffeine and never drank coffee at all. But, I really love the smell and taste, and I'm surrounded by coffee drinkers, so recently I have been having the occasional sip.
SOLO You have done very diverse works, from illustrations for children's books to signage for supermarkets or the image for a dating app. Have you done any other collaboration related to the world of coffee?
JAY Unfortunately not. But, I have loved making all the work for SOLO and learning more about the world of coffee. It's nice to get a window into a world that people are REALLY passionate and nerdy about!
Some of Jay's illustrations for SOLO 7 & 9
SOLO You say that your work is partly autobiographical and that sometimes it reflects your state of mind. Taking into account the context that surrounds us, full of catastrophic news, would you say that your designs evolve with the global social and political context, or does it depend more on the assignment and your personal situation?
JAY Well, there are two parts to my work: personal and commercial. With my personal work I really try not to let the state of the world creep into my world. In a way, my own work is a sacred place where I go to escape the world. A place where I get to visualise and work through my life and past. It's a kind of therapy that is precious to me. My commercial work on the other hand is often illustrating aspects of politics and society, which can't be too much about my personal view, but does sometimes reflect how I feel about a subject or event in the world.
“I have loved making all the work for SOLO and learning more about the world of coffee. It's nice to get a window into a world that people are REALLY passionate and nerdy about!”
SOLO How do you apply your woodworking training to your designs?
JAY When I graduated from high school I went to work with my Dad as a carpenter, but during my art school studies kind of lost touch with it. It wasn't until about 6 years ago I decided to combine the visual world I had with the practical wooden skills I learned when I was younger. Because my work is quite geometric and simple, it married up really well and I have been developing wooden artworks and products since I invested in workshop machines 6 years ago. Working with wood and making 3D objects is very special to me as it makes me feel closer to my father who sadly passed away in 2021. It's important to me that I make things that physically live in people's lives and last for longer than a drawing.
“With my personal work I really try not to let the state of the world creep into my world. In a way, my own work is a sacred place where I go to escape the world.”
SOLO Any exciting projects coming up soon?
JAY I'm very excited as I will be having a solo show with wooden sculptures and paintings next August (2024) in Portland, over in America.
Thanks Jay for always being willing to collaborate with SOLO, good luck in America!