Q&A with Travers Smith's CSR Art Programme artist Jake Gill

Q&A with Travers Smith's CSR Art Programme artist Jake Gill

Tell us a little about yourself

I am a fashion photographer based in London. I was born in Chippenham and completed an Art & Design Foundation before studying Photographic Arts at University. When you’re doing a foundation course, it is very intense and can become confusing as you might be unsure of what creative path you want to go in. Luckily, I found a working process that fits for me, and that was when I realised photography is what I am best at.

I’ve always been creative since I was very young- I still have an A2 sketchbook full of paintings I completed when I was about five years old! I became interested in photography when I was around 12 years old. I started taking photos on a Nokia N95- I wasn’t aware of what I was taking pictures of, but I guess it was when I began to become curious about the visual world.

Tell us more about your work?

Throughout my adolescence, I felt aggravated about the way contemporary fashion photography was, and frankly, I was bored and uninspired of the work I kept seeing. I was always fond of photographers such as Helmut Newton and Erwin Blumenfeld. I still think the most creative and exciting fashion photography was from the early to mid-20th century. 

When I started accumulating contemporary fashion photographs I was irked by how shallow, and superficial everything was; I just kept flicking through a lot of nonsense. It was at this point when I wanted to inject some meaning and depth into the fashion images that I wanted to make. During my foundation, I discovered Bauhaus Theatre and became inspired to use objects, garments and architecture as an extension of the human body. While I was at University, I wanted to be able to talk about mental health through fashion photography without being insensitive and cliché. I began to start trusting my instincts and became incredibly vigilant to my visual and audio surroundings; this is how my latest series of work 'Toeing the Line' was born. I am obsessed about how human beings communicate with each other- how an image or a sound can resonate with someone deeply.

How did it feel to be selected to take part in this year's CSR Art Programme?

I was so happy when I was selected to be a part of the programme; this has been the best work I have made to date, and I am proud of it. It means a lot to me because the message behind the work is something I genuinely care about and I am very thankful for this recognition. Everyone at Travers Smith has been so kind and respectful, which is rare to find as a young, creative graduate. 

How do you think being featured will help you in your emerging career?

I am very excited to attend the seminars and build more relationships throughout the next year. It is great to receive expert advice and skills to help me with my professional practice; this is the kind of support all artists need to help us be confident in our careers. It is also encouraging to have my work shown in this context; working full time in London can be very stressful as we live fast-paced lives. I hope my images can communicate some of those frustrations that people feel in a workplace and to encourage conversation around mental health. 

What’s next on the horizon for you?

I have recently finished a 3-month internship at PYLOT Magazine, which has been amazing! The next issue comes out this October, so I am very excited about what they have done since their last release.

Recently, I have had my work shown at the Pingyao International Photography Festival in Shanxi Province China. I have also exhibited in a virtual reality exhibition, hosted by Cura10n in Old Street- another show will take place in November. In the same month, I am further showing work at the Crane Kalman Gallery for Cream 2018 in Brighton.

Alongside this, I am still in the studio creating more work. I am always taking images and uploading them to Instagram- I treat it as a visual diary. I'm going to start reading more fashion theory and perhaps tap into astrophysics, so I guess I'll see how it translates into my next project!


Jake was one of our 2018-19 artists. Read about more of our Art Programme artists here.

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