UK-based artist Jez Kemp has been charming us with his HWF (horned-warrior friends) and cheeky designs for years. Give your imagination a holiday and check out Jez’s brave unicorns, fierce narwhals, and pirate-y dinosaurs.
"I would love to have had the confidence to focus on my own characters earlier than I did. It took me a while to believe that people would enjoy them. Pick an angle and develop it – there are people out there who’ll love it and who’ll find it."
Where is home?
Isle of Dogs, London. There aren’t many dogs, but we have parakeets and a city farm with llamas.
What is your creative weapon of choice?
Vectors in Photoshop. It’s very crude, but it’s how I work. The images keep their quality no matter how big they get, and I use automation to create the same design in different sizes/formats for different Redbubble products.
Please describe your work in 7 words or less
Glittery dinosaurs and unicorns save the world
"You don’t need expensive gear or equipment at all. Okay, for some things you do... But some of the most popular, inventive artwork is really lo-fi and simple."
What did you want to be when you grew up?
Author, rock star, designer… But I still haven’t grown up, and still, hope not to.
What is your dream project?
Some kind of public art installation. I love big environments you can walk through, mini-worlds that make people think and feel.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given as an artist?
You don’t need expensive gear or equipment at all. Okay, for some things you do… But some of the most popular, inventive artwork is really lo-fi and simple.
Please share the story behind your favorite artwork on Redbubble.
Probably Epic Mythical Creatures Chart – I spent a week of very late nights looking up mythical creatures and legends, including lots I’d never heard of, and putting the design together. Then I re-worked it as a metro/subway map! At some point, I’d like to develop it into something more detailed and intricate, but I like its minimalist infographic style.
A close second is Unicorn Riding Triceratops. It brings together my characters, my silliness, and my love of dinosaurs and unicorns, and guarantees a laugh out of most people.
What role do you feel artists have in society?
To tell truths with fiction. We need art and artists more than ever.
What’s been the hardest lesson you’ve learned while creating a successful art career? What advice would you love to have told yourself five or ten years ago?
I would love to have had the confidence to focus on my own characters earlier than I did. It took me a while to believe that people would enjoy them. Pick an angle and develop it – there are people out there who’ll love it and who’ll find it.
I’d also have joined new social media platforms sooner. There are communities out there for everyone and all types of art.
If you weren’t making art, what do you think you would you be doing now?
My “daytime” career is in digital communications, so that’s my backup for a Sensible Life Choice. But really, do I look sensible?
What artwork are you excited to work on next?
I’m planning more Horned Warrior Friends comics, working towards a book eventually. They are like my silly ridiculous children and I love them.
Living in London has made me want to re-design the tube map for different purposes – I have a few ideas kicking around.
Is there anything you’d like to share with us that I didn’t ask?
Nearly finished reading Kraken by China Mieville which is brilliantly imaginative – highly recommend this and Perdido Street Station for fantasy/adventure fans.
I lived in wonderful windy Wellington in Aotearoa New Zealand for 4 years (currently plotting a trip back). It’s the most amazing little city. Arohanui buddies!
I make music, and yes, there’s a very catchy song about dinosaurs.