Joe Magee

Joe Magee

(He/Him) • Stroud, England, UK

Biography Interview

Originally from Liverpool, England, Joe studied Graphic Design at London College of communication. He loves to mix up media, especially using photography to create bold and simple compositions using a limited number of colours. His style of work can adapt to, and is driven by, ideas. Joe loves being challenged with difficult briefs, aiming to distill complex concepts or stories down to a simple iconic image. He has tended to specialise in editorial work - often political stories or opinion pieces for current affairs magazines - and also loves working with science-related content and working with select clients for marketing work. Joe has a well developed moving image practice: He makes animations, live actions films and loves experimenting with this work - creating sequences that cross over into, and are influenced by, illustration and design.

Selected clients

Time Magazine, The Guardian, University of Liverpool, BBC, Johns Hopkins University, Wall Street Journal, Royal Anthropological Institute, Quercus Publishing, NHS, Pentagram, Courrier International, Financial Times, The Reader, Meredith Corps, Chronicle of Philanthropy, Metal, NBC Universal, Glassbox Productions, University of Bristol, Condenast, Nature Magazine, Saatchi & Saatchi, Watershed, Harvard Business Review, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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All sectors but specialized in editorial.

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  • 2 x D&AD Awards
  • 1 x UK Film Council Award

Joe Magee in the Spotlight

Joe Magee

Your pronouns

How do you define your identity? Do you identify with (or advocate for) any marginal-ized communities?
I’m generally happy for my identity to define itself by my words and actions. I respect the wishes of all people to choose to identify in the way they want, and am always glad to support those people in that regard. As an artist I can advocate for marginal-ised communities through my work: The images that people see in their daily lives have a big impact on the way in which the world views itself and artists can help lead the way by pushing for inclusivity in their images.

Where is home?
Stroud, England

Describe your illustration style in one sentence
I like bold, simple ideas to dictate the style, which often deviates.

What lights your soul on fire?
My family

What themes do you enjoy exploring in your illustrations?
Cultural communication

What techniques do you use?
Photographic mash ups with graphic elements.

How much of yourself and your own story can we see in your work?
I guess I am embedded in my own work. Maybe ask an art psychologist to look at my work. Then again, please don’t!

Is there an unmistakable thread in your creative work?
People say my work is very recognisable. I’m not sure I want to break that down. I think it’s important to have ‘an agenda’ active in my work at all times, no matter what the superficial subject is.

What do you want to be known for?
Being a good human being.

Which projects excite you most?
I’m currently doing a great animation project in the archive of legendary British writer and performer Spike Milligan. I have to say that this ticks lots of excitement boxes!

What is your dream gig?
The next one.

Where, when and how do you best create?
My creative mind seems to fire on all cylinders first thing in the morning, fuelled by tea and coffee. I work from home.

How has your style evolved since you started?
My style is less messy now.

What do you find most challenging in your practice or in the illustration industry?
I need to feel challenged, so the absence of a challenge is a problem!

How has being an illustrator changed your life?
It has giving me a living for 30 years and I love it.

Name a tool you can’t live without!
A pencil.

Tell us about a project you worked on that was meaningful to you as an artist.
I created a really large image for a gallery wall that was made up of smaller squares. People bought a square and removed it immediately so the image began to break down. A hundred percent of the money was donated to Sightsavers, a charity for helping people with eyesight problems in developing countries. So as the image in the gallery degraded, hopefully an image was improving for someone else, some-where else.

What influences or inspires your art?
Stories, texts, people, conversations, memories, anything.

What would you tell your younger self?
Cherish your friends.

Why do you think art speaks louder than words?
Art has no rules and can show the indescribable.

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