Over the last couple of months at Realm, we’ve been championing an exciting artistic project for our favourite charity, Forever Manchester. Forever from Manchester is an imaginative celebration of Mancunian heritage by talented illustrator James Chapman. For this month’s Realm Hotspot, we caught up with the man of the hour, James, to talk all his festive plans, his background in physics and his goals for 2017.
What’s your favourite thing about Christmas?
My favourite thing about Christmas is the food. It seems never-ending around the Chapman house, and I just can’t stop myself. Mince pies. Rose's chocolates. Cakes. Cakes. Cakes. It's really is the most wonderful time of the year.
What have you got planned for Christmas this year?
A Christmas tradition of late is I invite some friends over for some mulled wine and put on a small pub-quiz type event in my living room, so I’m doing that again this year. It’s a little tough coming up with questions but hopefully, I can come up with some soon.
Are we right in thinking that you’re a doctor?
I am indeed a doctor of physics from the University of Manchester. I worked in the Condensed Matter Physics department for 4 years, doing experiments with graphene. The department had two Nobel Prize winners, one of whom wore sandals and socks all through the rainy Manchester winter months every year.
So, how exactly did you wind up in illustration? (Do you want us to refer to what you do as ‘illustration’?)
During my time in university, I started drawing more and more as a bit of an escape. I found it wasn’t my cup of tea in terms of a workplace and I was really enjoying illustration so when my studies all came to an end I jumped at the chance to take it on as a career. I’m about one year in and it’s been going really well so far! I’ve worked for BuzzFeed, The BBC and of course, Realm and Forever Manchester
How come you’ve stuck with Manchester?
I’ve stayed in Manchester out of comfort really. Being at the university for 8 years I’ve got a good group of friends, I know where I’m going, it all seems to fit into place. There’s always a lot going on, too. I grew up in Birmingham, and the city has a similar feel I’ve found. I like being close to the action for when bands are playing, movies are showing and all that kind of fun.
Tell us about your Forever from Manchester project?
The Forever Manchester project was a lot of fun to work on. There’s a lot of cultural heritage in Manchester and it’s very proud of its famous faces. So together we worked on choosing some of these characters to put in unlikely situations set in the city as it is today. Part of living in Manchester is taking it on as part of who you are, and whether you’re born here, move here or just come to University for a brief spell, it always has an impact.
Why did you decide to get involved with Forever Manchester?
I jumped at the opportunity to work on this project as it was for such a good cause, really. But it also gave me a chance to stretch my style a bit. I’ve been working on a book for most of the last year and trying to keep the style consistent throughout can get a bit tiring, so having a project like this where I could try some new things was just what I wanted.
What have you got lined up for 2017?
In 2017, I’ll hopefully have a new book coming out about all the proverbs and words of wisdom used in different cultures. It’s the biggest single project I’ve worked on so far so hopefully, I can finish it in the New Year and move onto some new ideas.
And finally, what will be your New Year’s resolution?
My New Year’s resolution is to read more. As I don’t have a commute to work anymore I’ve stopped reading as much and it’s something I miss, so instead of watching so much TV, I’m going to try and get through at least ten of the books that have been collecting dust on my bookshelf by 2018.
The limited-edition Forever from Manchester artwork is available to purchase either as individual A3 prints or a set of postcards from Forever Manchester’s online merchandise shop, This Charming Manc. All proceeds raised will go towards funding and supporting community projects across Greater Manchester.
To see more of James’ work, check out his website, www.soundimals.com