James Joyce – how the modest star of Banksy's Dismaland is quietly making a name for himself…

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Not to be confused with his novelist namesake, the artist James Joyce has made his own name with his bold graphic designs
that have graced the cover of publications including The New York TimesThe Guardian and Wallpaper*. Now, with his appearance at Banksy's 'Bemusement Park' Dismaland in Weston-super-Mare – rotating smiley face ‘Perseverance in the Face of Absurdity’ proving one of the hits of the show – we took the time to catch up with the nice man of agitprop art… 

How did your involvement with Dismaland come about? 
Did you know Banksy already?

He sent me a very complimentary email a few months before asking if I’d be interested in being part of a show he was planning in the summer. In particular he liked the collapsed yellow face paintings I’d done previously, as for him it kind of summed up the event. He couldn’t tell me much to begin with apart from the fact that it was taking place in an abandoned theme park and the theme was 'theme parks should have bigger themes'…! 

Can you explain what work you have at Dismaland? 
There’s a large video installation piece titled ‘Perseverance in the Face of Absurdity’ in the first gallery. We built a large circular screen and projected the rotating face onto it and all the elements of the face tumble around as the disc rotates. Banksy wanted to use my original image for the cover of the programme and I also did a limited edition run of signed screen prints and t-shirts that you can buy as you 'Exit Through the Gift Shop'.

How do you feel about people selling anything that's not nailed down on eBay - including your brochure cover?
As an artist you hope people are buying your work because they like it rather than to flip it on eBay the next day for 10 times its original price tag. But I suppose that’s to be expected when working with Banksy. All of my signed and editioned screen prints sold out on the first day; hopefully most of those buyers were art lovers. 

What do you think is the message that Dismaland conveys?
We’re all fucked.

The rotating smiley seems quite an apt symbol for it - was it shown elsewhere? 
Well the image was created as a large painting a while ago, but this moving image piece was made specifically for Dismaland. Originally we talked about making a physical spinning piece where all the parts of the face rolled around but when I had a test animation made to see how that might work, we agreed that it would be great to use the animation and project it onto a massive circular panel, especially as that particular space was showing other dark-dependent works. 

Have you discussed further work with him?
If I had I wouldn’t be able to tell you…

James Joyce 

Photographs by Laura Braun