Illustrator and skateboarder Henry Jones grew up in Downingtown, a small town in Pennsylvania. Aged 20, he moved to West Chester – Bam Margera's hometown and the site of much of the Jackass and CKY footage – and got a job at a skate shop called Fairman's. There, listening to the stories skaters told on the shop floor, he was inspired to create his-now signature satirical skate sketches.
Henry is the newest member of The No Comply Network, so to celebrate we had a chat about art, satire and why he thinks simple gestures illustrate the funniest jokes
VICE: When did you first start drawing?
Henry Jones: Both of my parents are pretty talented artists, and as far as I can remember I've always had a marker, crayon, pen or pencil in my hand. I used to draw a lot of airplanes and little monster character things, and knights and dragons and shit – I still do – and of course I had my dark grade school days, drawing all sorts of unmentionable things to make my friends laugh.
What are your thoughts on the relationship between skateboarding and creativity?
I think the nice thing about skating and art is the lack of pressure that's involved. I can do them both at my own pace, take my own time and approach things however many times in however many ways, until I'm satisfied with a result. Even if I'm not necessarily producing or learning anything new, I’m always thinking about one or the other, watching other people and learning small things here and there that I can use to build upon my own techniques.
You work is full of sarcasm. What inspired that?
Working at Fairman's for five years provided endless material. With all the different people that came in, I could sit there with my drawing pad out and it would pretty much just play out in front of me. It was just my duty to put it on paper.
How did you settle on your distinctive scrawling style?
I think I really started figuring out the style most people are familiar with from me while taking some art classes in college, particularly figure drawing classes. I really like the simplicity of gesture drawings and how much form can be described by just a few lines.
You’ve been commissioned to collaborate with a bunch of skate brands already, but who would you most like to make a graphic for?
I think childhood me would be the most stoked on doing a Wes Kremer graphic.
What skate brands and skater-made art inspire you most?
I've always really liked Krooked and some early Real graphics with Mark Gonzales's art. Anything that Sean Cliver or Mark McKee have been involved in, as I've always been a fan of both of them. As far as skate brands go, it will always be their artists that inspire me, if anything. I like a lot of sci-fi movies and animated films, too, and I think I draw some ideas here and there from that.
You're a big Hayao Miyazaki fan, right? What's your favourite thing about his work?
Everything. The character design, the worlds he creates, how personal he can make a film feel for the viewer. It’s tough to pick a favourite; it would be either Castle in the Sky or Princess Mononoke. Castle in the Sky I like because of the setting, Princess Mononoke because of the action and Billy Bob Thornton voice acts in it.
You're a fan of Ralph Steadman too, who famously did a lot of work with Hunter S Thompson. What do you like about his art?
I like how loose and chaotic it is, with his bold line work seemingly holding everything together – and his caricatures are my favourite.
Are there any other artists, musicians or filmmakers out there who stoke you out?
My mom, Marie Wolfington Jones, is a phenomenal fine artist and has really given me a lot of tools, support and advice to pursue the path I'm on. I’ve also been really into the illustration of Chris Faccone lately. Recently I saw that new Spider-man: Enter the Spider-verse movie, which had character design by Shiyoon Kim, who I'm also a big fan of.
You and Karl Watson made a children's book, My First Skateboard, together. What's the reaction been like to that?
The reaction to the book has been great. I don’t think either Karl or I could have anticipated the reception it has gotten so far. Karl mentioned to me once that he heard someone was bummed that the characters wear helmets, but that's about the only negative feedback I've heard about.
What was it like working with Karl to make the book come to life?
Karl is a great dude and I was stoked how passionate he was about this project when he came to me. It was definitely a learning experience for the both of us, because neither of us had ever written a children's book, and I had never illustrated a children's book. So it took a little trial and error and us figuring stuff out along the way, but we persevered and triumphed. Karl does a top rate job of promoting the book, as well as figuring out new outlets for it. I just recently finished rewriting the text for the Spanish and French version, too, which wouldn’t be possible without his dedication to and management of the project.
Nice. What else do you have coming up?
I've got an art show at No Comply ATX skate shop in Austin, Texas on the 6th of April, and another at Escapist in Kansas City with Michael Sieben on the 3rd of May. I also have a few collaborations in the works, and as always put out shirts and other new products as often as possible.
Before I let you go, do you have any tips for artists who are just honing their skills?
Take a figure drawing class.