Joe Kessler - Cartoonist

Joe Kessler graduated from Camberwell's BA Illustration course in 2010 and now creates his own comics as well as working for illustration publishers Nobrow.

Why did you choose to study BA Illustration at Camberwell?

I thought the work being produced represented the most diverse and interesting illustration course in the country. I still think this is the case.

I also liked the environment. It's one of the only proper art schools in London; proper, because there's no one at undergraduate level who isn't making art.

And there's no fashion course. 

What was the first job you took after graduation?

I work at Nobrow, a publishers who specialise in comics and illustration. I began working there full-time at the beginning of 2011. I still work there at least two days a week but am able to devote more time to drawing.

Can you tell us briefly what you’ve been up to since you graduated?

Apart from working at Nobrow, I've been drawing comics and recently had my first book published. Windowpane came out through Breakdown Press last November and I had an accompanying solo show at East London's 18 Hewett Street gallery. 

Since graduating I've drawn comics for several other publications as well as having work I produced while at Camberwell reprinted by Nobrow. 

I also teach a comics course to second year BA Illustration students at Camberwell College of Arts. 

What are you working on at the moment?

I'm just finishing a small book for Vermont's Space Face Books, which I will send off in the next couple of days. After that I will start work on a piece for Weird, published by Baltimore's Closed Caption Comics. This piece will also be in an exhibition in Baltimore called The Tortured Page. 

These projects have been running alongside work for my next book from Breakdown Press, which is due later this year. There is also the real - i.e. paid - work at Nobrow and teaching and anything else I can weasel.

How did your time at Camberwell inform your work?

It's difficult to be specific. My work leaving Camberwell was completely different from when I arrived. To me, my current work is again completely different to when I left the course. Artistic development does not begin at art school and it doesn't seem to slow down on leaving. 

However, the opportunity to devote myself solely to art for three years was a luxury that helped me understand what I wanted to do and moved me towards finding a way of making that achievable. Something that might not have been possible and certainly wouldn't have been so pleasant had I not gone to art college.

Best advice you were given while at Camberwell?

"Maybe you should redraw or rethink that". Can't remember if I was ever given this advice directly, but it was implied many times. Very rarely a bad idea.

What tips would you give to a student starting out at Camberwell?

Be honest. Try to establish a balance between self criticism and the self belief required to make art.

And never think that you're working hard because you aren't. Even when you're working really hard you're not really working hard. You're making pictures or objects or something and it's fun.