Jake Francis

I notice humour is a constant theme with your work. I feel like there is this big wave of humour-art recently, would you agree?

Grayson Perry once said (although I’m paraphrasing) that ‘the joke was the greatest driving force of art in the 20th century’, and I am certainly not being ‘original’ in stating that it’s potency has continued with great ferocity. You only have to look back 100 years to see the murmurings of conceptualised humour within art, specifically in how it is presented and its relationship with its native contexts. Duchamp and Dada are perhaps at the forefront of this pained dialogue, claiming the subsequent disregard from art’s stuffier and incestuous audience. If true art is critical, and a joke is an ‘epigram on the death of a feeling’, then humour’s place within visual culture is one of permanence. Anyone who thinks otherwise must be joking.


What inspired you to make art that would go against the grain of more traditional techniques?

I would say that, if anything, I stick too firmly to the traditional techniques of art making. Both uninspired and unwilling to innovate or to antiquate in fear of failure or to trivialise without self-control, I flounder in the odd puddle of conceptual art. Unflattering to the laymen and derivative to the insider, my practice is both a half glass (empty) to all who view it. My drive to pursue the techniques and materials that I do is not out of passion, but necessity. Ill-equipped in most forms of ‘making’, I have found the perfect companion in conceptual art to excuse my abilities (or lack thereof) whilst simultaneously borrowing / stealing from the semiotics of our everyday material lives.


You describe your relationship with art in an intereting way 'playground bully[to the grirl he] has a soft spot for', has it always been this way?

Not initially. Like most naive art students, I entered it’s education with both ambition and dreams of social change/inspiration (think Shepard Fairey with wonkier teeth). As I took part in more and more critiques and exhibitions however, I realised how absurd the seriousness of it all was; wondering how people could stand next to a sculpture made of soiled bras and expanding foam with straight faces and snide pomposity. This, coupled with meagre earnings as a graduate, has subsequently tainted my relationship with art to the point where my position on its importance switches constantly ; celebrating its merits one minute, and wishing to become an accountant the next. It is within this endless barrage of failures (or perceived failures) that art has clawed back its interest - a flouting relationship with good days and bad days.