Looking at Photography in a Different Way with Jim Phillips – A Man of Many Images

Meet Jim Phillips, the man behind Green Earth Artworks’ J!M.

Jim Phillips – J!M – Cartoonist, Graphic Artist 

Drawing and Creating Art

Jim has design and graphic art running through his veins. Drawing and sketching has always come naturally to Jim; so much so that, at 15, when other kids were delivering newspapers, Jim was drawing editorial cartoons for some of those same newspapers.

Jim’s awards for his editorial cartoons have been many, but the greatest accolade is probably having the originals of his Toronto Sun SUNtoon cartoons housed in the National Library Archives in Ottawa – preserved as part of “… the documentary heritage of Canada for the benefit of present and future generations.”

He has never stopped drawing. During his college years he was contributing three cartoons a week for an Ontario thrice-weekly newspaper. Following his twenty plus years as an art and creative director for iconic Canadian brands like Loblaws’ President’s Choice flyers, Lowe’s Canada and Bell Canada, Jim is now creating art in digital formats. 

His career in retail marketing and brand promotion is what Jim is known for as well as his prolific career in editorial cartooning.

We chatted to the incurable creator of images to find out more about J!M’s work on the Green Earth Artworks site.


GEA:        When did you become involved in photography?

J!M:        I took photography in College back when it involved a chemical soup. Mostly black and white stuff. I wasn’t good at it.


GEA:        Do you use photography in your professional life?

J!M:        Yes. As an Art Director I spent a lot of time standing behind the photographer standing behind the camera shooting scenes, people and products. Composition was my concern as well as the content. 


GEA:        You are a nationally renowned cartoonist with your SUNtoon portfolio housed in the Canadian National Library Archives.  Do you have similar aspirations for your photography? 

J!M:        I really don’t take photographs. I use tiny bits and push them around and make them into something else. If I have aspirations they haven’t occurred to me yet. I just enjoy dabbling in PhotoShop and making colourful compositions out of the ether. 

The “Other-worldliness” of J!M’s Computer Generated Art


GEA:        Although you start off with a sliver from a photograph, you are ending up with a totally new image. Do you begin with a goal in mind or do you follow where the image leads you to colours, textures? 

J!M:        I just let it go where it goes. I sometimes go back to something later and change it completely. Creating texture with filters is a big part. I experiment with filters and settings a lot before I get an effect or texture that I like. It’s all about shape, colour and texture.


GEA:        The original photographs you use, are they random pictures or do you shoot especially for you photo-art?

J!M:        Many are mine and some are snippets taken from online. I never keep the photo, or remember which ones of my own I used, so I couldn’t tell you where they came from. And because they end up so far from what they were (unrecognizable) with changed shapes and colours, they are essentially completely new works of art.


GEA:        What reaction are you looking to invoke in the viewer?

J!M:        Getting a reaction would be great but I’m more interested in getting their attention because the work grabs them. If they spontaneously like what they see then I’m happy to have had that attention. If they don’t like it, at least they looked and considered it and we had a “moment”. 


GEA:        Looking at your Green Earth Artworks collection as a whole, there’s a sense of a “beginning of creation” – almost as if a lightning strike would bring all sorts of things into existence, like the alligator waiting in the “Organic Composition” piece. All of them are like looking through an electron microscope.

J!M:        I like that. Yes, some primordial effects but that would be a happy accident not intention. Perhaps there is some emotion in these artworks that I’m not aware of as I’m creating them. I would like to think that’s the case. 


A Sense of Something Lurking? – J!M’s piece “Organic Composition”


GEA:        What reactions and comments have you had from other people?

J!M:        I haven’t really had a lot of reaction. Because I’m primarily a cartoonist it's sort of a well-kept secret of sorts. I don’t even sign them. Maybe I should! 


Peaceful Images out of the Ether. J!M’s Wired #Two


Take a Dive into the Surreal – Visit J!M’s Portfolio

There are more intriguing and evocative images from the man who seems to create images with whatever he touches. Go to J!M’s Green Earth Artworks page.

Take your time, open the files, enlarge them and lose yourself in another world.

It’s a form of meditation; which, after all, is the essence of WallArt.

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