Who the hell is JJ Adams?

After a week of what can only be described as ‘retail mayhem’ we take a look at the artist in question.

Mr JJ Adams: a quiet unassuming provocateur of the contemporary art form. Before we take a look at a body of work based predominantly on 80’s film and TV culture that was released this week, let’s speculate as to why JJ Adams is taking the art world by storm. One might suggest his ideas are current and mainstream and thus are reticent within British subcultures, however I believe the work has a much deeper underlying agenda. Pausing for thought, each signed limited edition crafted with intent, showcases JJ’s ability to fill with content. Attention to detail and subtle imagery add a narrative to each piece. JJ builds upon these images with an enthusiastic colour contrast and at times a controversial story unravels whether it be linked to intricate tattoo designs, pop art or pulp and movie culture.

For example the piece ‘Game Paused’. Such a clever work of art. JJ has included many elements to this piece, notably characters of various video games but take your time to notice intricate detail such as the score. Quote ‘World 91 – 1’ or 9/11 if you will. JJ’s ability to make something appear simple when actually is thought provoking, compounds the fact as to why his popularity has exploded.

Game Paused - 20x30

Game Paused : Signed limited edition of just 95 copies. Price £495.

Now it’s fair to say I’m a fan of this artist, but let’s look at the maths. After all the facts don’t lie. JJ released his new collection at midday Saturday 28th March and was met with hysteria! I don’t think anyone was expecting what was about to happen as people gathered outside galleries, braving the cold weather, trying to be one of the first to witness this new collection. As soon as the gallery doors opened we realised the entire collection was completely sold out via Wishbone Publishing, purchased by affiliation galleries. Retail sales amounted to a staggering £1.2 million within the hour with originals flying off the walls at an average price of £15,000. Complete editions of prints such as ‘Time Traveller’ and ‘Droids Playing Poker’ sold within seconds of release leaving galleries to deal with the aftermath. Somewhat akin to one of JJ’s pieces there was certainly a lot of hype and excitement surrounding this collection. A notion that has developed not from marketing or gallery salesmanship but that of word of mouth. Probably the most powerful marketing tool but also one that declares JJ as the artist to invest in!

So what makes JJ so special? Evidentially his style has gripped the nation, but what I find fascinating is that as he continues to immerse himself within the art, his popularity grows and grows. This is certainly the mark of a fine artist. In the same vein as street artist Banksy, he shunned the lime light and where other street artists embraced their patrons Banksy remained anonymous. It was down to Banksy’s sheer artistic ability that hit the headlines. The old saying of letting the art do the talking is obviously paramount here and echoes forth with regards to the simply staggering affect JJ has had upon the art market this week.

Twiggy II Tattoo 24x30

Full Metal Twiggy : Signed limited edition, £495 (No deposit, 10 equal monthly instalments of £49.50)

Unhappy Meal 24x30

Warmongers : Signed limited edition silkscreen, £495 (No deposit, 10 equal monthly instalments of £49.50)

Come and visit the gallery or view the work on line – 12A Flying Horse Walk, Nottingham, NG1 2HN – Tel: 01159 243 555

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What makes the artist JJ Adams so popular?

          Twiggy Tattoo Large 24x30 - Copy          Summer Lovin T Bird Version 24x30 - Copy

JJ Adams…

This exciting young artist is touted as being the Next Big Thing on the British art scene. With his challenge to the heart of British cultural values – members of the Royal family displayed with full sleeve tattoos, iconic buildings such as Buckingham Palace or the Palace of Westminster depicted defaced by graffiti, Adams strikes at the heart of our cultural consciousness with his work.

Rule Brittania - St Pauls Cathedral 20x30

“Rule Brittania – St Pauls”

In the same way that Banksy became the art world’s darling, filling the vacuum left by the end of the love affair with the YBAs, Adams is making a name for himself, aided by Wishbone Publishing, with his phenomenal output. Born in Plymouth, Adams was raised in South Africa, remaining there until the end of the apartheid era when he returned to these shores with the aim of becoming a tattoo artist. Little wonder then that his obsession with body art spills over into his work, evidenced in his ‘Tattoo Series’ where icons of royalty, music and the silver screen are depicted with awesome full sleeve and knuckle tattoos. The ubiquity of the tattoo in mainstream culture must play a part in his appeal to the mainstream art audience, but there is more to his art than purely capitalising on a social trend. His interest in printing and in graphic design – honed when working in the South West as a printer whilst experimenting with art in his spare time – are evident in the stylised way much of his work is presented. Combining media such as printing, collage, spray paint, screen prints and hand painted acrylics, his work has attracted attention from Christie’s, Rolls Royce, Vogue and GQ magazines with its rawness, energy and passion, but also with its accessibility and broad subject appeal.

But, like Banksy, Adams is certainly not a mainstream fine artist, and similarly, much of his work remains true to the roots of his style and influences. Where Banksy’s popularity came from the street through recognition of his graffiti and its subsequent elevation to ‘art’, Adams work is equally accessible and most importantly recognisable in its representation of things ‘normal’ that have been given Adams’ treatment which, in challenging their orthodoxy, cause the audience to consider their own response to these significant cultural icons. However, being able to picture Buckingham Palace with graffitied gate posts somehow appeals to the British sense of humour and perhaps more importantly makes the audience question why the imagery is such a visual shock. To have the artistic vision to produce works that speaks on such an accessible level to the man in the street and yet which so cleverly strikes at the heart of our culture is evidence of Adams’ skill and gives a big clue as to why his work is generating such excitement in the art – and wider – community. Fundamentally this is what makes JJ Adams so popular and undeniably an artist to invest in!

Love-Gun web file

“Love Gun”

Signed limited edition print on paper. Framed just £435.

(Own Art available, spread the payment over 10 months interest free)