Jacob Everett is a freelance artist and illustrator from Lewisham, South East London. He began a foundation course in art and design at Central St Martins in 2009 before moving to Leeds to work.
For the last couple of years he has been producing large biro portraits and limited edition prints, exhibiting in London and across Yorkshire. Clients include Urban Outfitters, The Amersham Arms and Winq Magazine. His subjects vary from well known faces such as Dave Grohl, Wayne Rooney and Derek Jarman to his most recent project documenting the lives of Bradford's homeless community. He now lives and works in Brighton in the South of England.
Jacob describes his technique as follows:
I am a portrait artist working with biro on paper. I produce large-scale portraits using an intricate technique of overlapping elliptical marks, which gradually build to represent the subtle contours of the face. In common with digital images, my works, close up, appear as thousands of tiny ‘pixels’. When viewed from a distance they reveal the subtleties and nuances of individual character.
I am interested in the contrast between the minute repetitive mark-making and the highly personal image that is created. The process is similar to mass production. I work from photographs, concentrating on one section of the face at a time. Over several weeks of ‘shifts’ spent in this way, the work culminates in a finished ‘product’ which is, paradoxically, an authentic and personal portrait.
A Ragged Road
In February 2012 Jacob began a series of portraits of Bradford’s homeless. It was inspired by a fundraiser he was involved with for Inn Churches, a charity providing shelter for the homeless during the winter months. His work until then had focused on close friends and relatives and faces of those he admired from the public domain. After discovering Egon Schiele’s portraits of Austrian ‘street children’, Jacob felt inspired to document the lives of people who would otherwise be overlooked. He says: "I became aware of a whole section of society who could go through life entirely unnoticed; whose documented lives, in photographs, certificates and souvenirs had often been left behind in homes they had abandoned for a variety of reasons".
The first portrait in this series was made to commemorate Brian Lancaster, a man who died in 2011, leaving behind only a few photographs and a small circle of friends to cherish his memory. From this one portrait, the idea grew for an ambitious, large-scale series of portraits of Bradford’s homeless, to be displayed in a gallery, with all the gravitas and respect usually reserved for the great and the good. Jacob says: "I wanted the series of images to be confronting and, in a way, celebratory; because what I learned from meeting the subjects was that they were not defined by their circumstances, but were as various and complex as the rest of us". Without a doubt, for many, homelessness is ‘a ragged road to walk down’, as one of the subjects, Kirk Anton Scott, described it. Their homelessness has often come about through family breakdown, addiction, unemployment or sheer bad luck. But it is a life where character shows through.