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courtesy @jamesspencerx

Enter the illustrative world of bleached beau James Spencer


TextViolet Conroy

The illustrator talks about dabbling in drag, drawing his heart out and working with Tim Walker

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James Spencer feels most beautiful right after he’s bleached his eyebrows. Once done they match his mop of white hair, giving him a signature ethereal look which has seen him walk the runway for the Glaswegian bad boy of fashion Charles Jeffrey on multiple occasions.

James is first and foremost an illustrator, his drawings Klimt-esque in their anguished yet delicate depictions of contorted faces and human bodies on the page. Originally hailing from Lancashire, a place which remains very dear to his heart despite living in London, the 24-year-old frequently models and collaborates with British legend Tim Walker on shoots. Their creative union is a match made in heaven - see him transformed into an array of otherworldly figures, framed by unforgiving natural landscapes of snowy hills or suburban villages in the North West of England.

With his illustrations for Charles Jeffrey’s Pride Collection collaboration sold in Topshop and Topman and a potential solo exhibition in the works, James shows no sign of holding up anytime soon. He’s positive about the future too, even if it’s just for today.

What is it you do?
I'm a fashion illustrator and occasionally I'll don a white wig and a bit of lippy.

How did you get into it?
It’s a horrible cliché, but I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember. I have both dyslexia and dyscalculia, so I guess you could say I was pretty "done for" academically. Drawing was the only thing I was half decent at. The drag aspect creeped in after I moved to London - it was just a further form of self-expression.

What’s your career highlight?
My illustrations being sold in Topshop and Topman was pretty lovely. I also love all the wonderful shoots I've done with Tim Walker, especially the one shot in my hometown, which I did the creative direction for.

What is the future of beauty?
Mio?

When do you feel most beautiful?
I'll be frank - right after I've bleached my eyebrows.

Are you optimistic about the future?
Yes, I believe I am. Well, at least today I am.

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