The acclaimed cartoonist Jack Sachs (London, 30 years old) had almost finished his Illustration career and his artistic style totally defined when, one night, at a party, a wine glass stabbed into his hand. “The doctors told me that he would most likely never draw again,” he recalls now, in Barcelona. “I wasn’t even drunk, I had just arrived with a friend and we started fooling around, like a joke fight, I fell and leaned on the glass of wine. That was it. Days before starting the last course of the race. I was left very sad, ”he intones with English impassiveness.
That day Sachs made a series of decisions: first, to finish the course despite everything (“how expensive it had been!”). Second, continue to consider himself an illustrator, someone who would make a living from his drawings. Third, learn to draw in another way, if not with a pen and freehand as before, then with a computer. “He had never even opened Adobe Illustrator, but he had a huge cast on his right arm. I began to try, a little blind from painkillers, to design very basic things with my left hand”. Eight years later, Sachs is one of the most demanded illustrators by thousands of his followers but also by brands. He has collaborated with The New YorkerSpotify and, more especially, for the capsule collection he has designed for Pull & Bear and Primavera Sound 2022.
The explosion between the ideas that he had always expressed by hand and the technical discipline imposed by a computer changed his life. His style had always been expressly naïf and abstract –a Phillip Guston formed on Tumblr– but when he collided with the concretion of the machine and 3D it did not fall apart, but rather expanded: 3D animations first coexisted with his usual drawings and then they ended up shaping them. “It has never seemed to me that I draw very well, I do it as a game, to give free rein to certain ideas that I have inside and experiment a lot. But to do something in 3D you do have to learn technical drawings, processes, programs… And every time you learn a new technique to create a new three-dimensional shape, it inspires you to do something different with drawing. And that something different also changes the way you understand 3D. One thing inspires the other continuously. I’m still looking for ways to mix you up.”
He also discovered a new thing called color, today one of his hallmarks. “Everything he did by hand was black or white. Rather, blue pen and black pen. With the computer you have the whole palette there, for free. You can sit down and try combinations and that encouraged me to try more colors”. His drawings are today directly fluorine like a raves English from the eighties. They also have cartoon eyes. “I am a lot of test how far I can deform a face and still look like a face: my conclusion is that if it has eyes and a mouth, the rest does not matter. It is a face”.
Sachs belongs to the generation raised not by pop culture like older millennials but by the chaos of the early days of the internet. His first references were the blogs he visited between 2007 and 2009. “I spent the whole day connected… That aesthetic, those ideas, that new medium full of promises… The first thing I noticed was how people created their own images, it was impossible not to be influenced by that. Then I went to visit some friends in Germany and people there were doing something even better: more cool, more local, more personal, rarer than what you saw on the internet. I absorbed all of that.” Sachs, in case his platinum hair and his piercings they didn’t give him away, now he lives in Berlin.
After the internet and Friedericshein, his next biggest influence was 1980s video art. like Gretchen Bender or Pipilotti Rist: “When the computer was still being experimented with, there were extremely strange things. You couldn’t do much with it because it was so basic that they had to invent what to do”, he marvels.
This month, Sachs has seen the biggest play of her career. First, literally. The bear he designed for Pull & Bear became a 13-meter inflatable balloon in Primavera Sound. Second, because of the number of designs that she has created for the Pull & Bear capsule collection. “So many drawings, so many variations, so many shirts. It was a long process: it had to fit the festival and the brand, everything had to be done in a very specific way. The client wants salable things, not the abstract ideas that come out of normal. There are drawings of mine that you would not even recognize as a character. But this bear had to be liked by everyone.”
It’s all part of the same thing, of that decision he made in the hospital, with a broken arm and his future not too far away, to continue illustrating. “I had to finish the course,” she insists. “I had started it, I had to finish it. And as soon as I saw that I could translate my inner world into 3D, I knew I would have a life as an illustrator after him.”
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