James Kerr’s animations are entertaining, sometimes irreverent and always relevant. He started posting his work on instagram as @scorpiondagger and before he knew it he had a client list including the likes of adult swim and gucci. Read more to learn how he came to be the artist he is now and don’t forget to turn up the volume when you click on his work.
Where are you based? What is your work space like? Is it noisy? Is it quiet?
I’m based in Montreal, Canada. I rent a little corner in an old, industrial loft from a friend who has a small clothing/pin/patch brand (Stay Home Club). Interestingly enough, I am the only non-employee in here. Everyone who works here is pretty great and it’s generally quiet as we mostly all wear headphones. There is tons of sunlight and it is close to my favourite bar so I have zero complaints.
When did you start designing/animating? You obviously went to some major schooling for this right?
I started experimenting with animation in 2011 - there was zero schooling for this. A friend of mine showed me a few things on Photoshop and that was about it. I studied Political Science and History in university, but was always around the art school kids. Somehow, I ended up in an art collective and fell in love with collage. In a sense, I see my animation an extension of that.
The work you post often includes music - what song did you listen to last?
Well, right now it’s Her Psychology Today by Guided by Voices. Today, I have my favourited tracks on Deezer set to random. It’s pretty all over the place… Breathless by Nick Cave just came on.
You seem to like to mix the old and the new...classic faces mixed with hover boards and EDM. Is this conscious or just inherently part of your being?
Definitely part of my being. When I started Scorpion Dagger, the goal was to make an animation a day for a year. At some point during that process I found the best way to get inspiration/motivation was to make it a sort of journal of my stream of conscious through the lens of the works of the Early and Northern Renaissance. I loved the paintings so much that I started playing with the idea of taking the characters off the canvas and into a world that I created for them.
I see you have done stuff for adult swim. What other clients do you have?
It’s a pretty random list. I’ve done work for the New York Times, Gucci, a Dutch brewery, a local punk bar, a few different bands, a couple of skate companies, an Iggy and the Stooges doc by Jim Jarmsuch, etc… A lot of it has been pretty mind blowing. I Never would’ve thought a silly little GIF project would’ve brought me any of these experiences.
How has instagram affected your process or your work or your popularity?
Instagram has brought me a lot of work, which, unfortunately for my Instagram, keeps me from posting animations as much as often as I’d like. It’s a good problem to have though, so I’m really not complaining. I do really miss posting more regularly, and interacting with people. I’ve made so many incredible connections through posting on there. I’m hoping to get to place where I can do it more often again. Maybe not everyday, but definitely a few times a week.
What is your fashion sense like? Are you trendy? What kind of shoes do you wear?
Haha, right now my fashion sense is pretty seasonal. I was out in the woods with a couple of friends over the weekend. The temperature really dropped Saturday night and we woke up with snow on our tents. I guess I loved it so much that I decided to stay in the spirit by rocking the lumberjack look — an old plaid wool jacket, jeans and a toque. Pretty fucking Canadian, tbh. But, I’m back in the city now, so I dropped the boots for a pair of Vans, because they’re way easier to bike in.
courtesy JAMES KERR
interview ASHLEY MUNNS
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