The Jack Hamilton Interview
All photos by Rich West
I first became aware of Jack ‘Hammy’ Hamilton’s artwork via an exhibition of work he displayed at Hackney Road’s much missed Parlour Skate Store – a standardly boozy evening, aesthetically enhanced by Jack’s finely detailed freak show of perfectly captured grotesques and had me quickly searching out more of his work.
I already knew Jack as the guy smacking his liens to tail really fucking hard at skateparks across London, or filming his crew on whatever they stumbled across with their boards, but it’s always rad to peel back the onion and find out about the non-skateboard pastimes of the various rippers you come across in the extended family of skateboarders which criss-crosses the globe.
Thus, fast forward a couple of years and when I was working out plans for who I wanted to interview this spring, Jack was at the top of the list. We caught up on a rare sunny February day in London, after a session breathing in traffic fumes at Greenwich’s venerable hip spot, to talk his artistic beginnings, Robert Crumb, his future video plans and much more – all of which you can read about below, alongside some of his illustration work and a bevy of photos by Rich West…
So to start things off, what came first – drawing or skateboarding?
I’ve always drawn – everyone draws at school I guess, so drawing came first. Then I started skating about ten years ago now, through the Tony Hawk games. I used to play football and then got Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 – me and my mate were well into games – I told him about that one and he had a board from years ago so we played around on that Then I bought a crappy No Fear board and have never stopped. I remember when I first got it, my Nan said “You won’t be on that thing for five minutes”, but here we are.
You obviously have a penchant for humorously grotesque characters, where do you draw your influence from?
I always wondered that; why am I drawn to these ugly goblin monsters and weird shit like that? I think it’s outsider art in a way. Maybe there’s something in that? One person who really blew my mind was Robert Crumb, he is just brilliant – a big inspiration and influence. I read The Beano as well when I was a kid – Leo Baxendale, Tom Paterson and Ken Reid are all sick, their work has definitely seeped into me from when I used to read them as a kid.
I remember in secondary school, when I first got really into drawing I was hyped on people who skated and drew as well. At the time I was more into skating than drawing so seeing people like Kyle Platts, Paul Parker, Sam Taylor, French and all those guys inspired me – obviously I liked there work as well haha.
One of my favourite cartoonists is Jim Woodring and his work is sometimes grotesque and cartoony. He says one thing he likes in artwork is the contrast between the two, and that scary/funny thing is something that I try to get in my work as well.