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A
Z
Q&A with our student modelmakers: James Picot
Current
2020
list Article list

Q&A with our student modelmakers: James Picot

Posted 15.06.2020
By Make modelshop

We like to nurture emerging talent at Make and offer extended work placements for modelmaking students who show a passion and aptitude for architectural work. During their placement, each student is tasked with building a large showcase model of one of our projects. The modelshop team is right by their side to train and guide them, helping them hone their already-promising modelmaking skills. Plus, they get a taste of working life here in our London studio.

In this Q&A series, we speak to recent graduates about what got them into modelmaking, their experience at Make, and the key to being a successful modelmaker.

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About James

Name James Picot
University Arts University Bournemouth
Course BA (Hons) Modelmaking
Years on course 2017–2020
Instagram @jamespicotmodelmaker
Website www.jamespicot.com

How did you get into modelmaking?

I have always enjoyed making things, and my father’s background is in carpentry so there were always materials and tools available for me to experiment with. I grew up playing with Lego, so I was always building things and making up stories for the things I built and acting them out.

What made you want to pursue it at university / as a career?

Modelmaking wasn’t my initial choice at university. I spent a year doing a degree in Illustration as I wanted to pursue a career in concept art, but I ended up changing courses to modelmaking at the end of my first year after seeing the opportunities available to develop the kind of work I wanted to produce.

What sort of models do you make in your spare time?

I like to explore the more conceptual side of architecture in my models. I like experimenting with materials, forms and concepts that may not be seen as much in commercial modelmaking. I think a lot of my personal work is more ‘crafty’ – for lack of a better word – and I enjoy using techniques and materials that aren’t as common in the industry. Although architecture is my speciality, I do many types of craft and making, and I like to make sure I am always learning new things.

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Lebbeus Woods’ Meta Institute by James Picot
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Shipshape by James Picot

If you could make a model of any building, what would it be and why?

There are a few buildings I love that I would like to make models of; whether or not I ever get around to making them is another question. At the moment, the one I keep coming back to is Tadao Ando’s Church of the Light. I experimented with concrete casting and etching during my last project at university, and I think it would be nice to try and replicate all the subtle details of the building in a model. I enjoy playing with light and space in my models, and the Church of the Light ticks all those boxes for me. Something a bit more complex would maybe be the Yale Beinecke Library in Connecticut, or maybe the New Acropolis Museum in Athens. They are both really interesting buildings.

Do you listen to any particular music while you’re working?

I’m nearly always listening to music while I work, and if I’m not it’s probably because I’m listening to an audiobook instead. My taste in music is quite varied; I like music that is a bit conceptual or has very clear inspiration from outside sources that aren’t just other musicians. I’ve been listening to Moses Sumney, James Blake and Kanye West a lot over the past few months, and more recently I’ve added FKA Twigs, Bon Iver and Perfume Genius to my rotation, to name a few.

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The Husk by James Picot

What do you think are the key skills or personal attributes of a successful modelmaker?

First and foremost is patience. A lot of the making process takes time, and especially when you’re working on small details, you need to be able to focus for long amounts of time to get things perfect. Placing and gluing hundreds of chairs and tables in a model isn’t the most exciting job, but if you can stay focused the end result is always satisfying. Equally I would say having an interest in ‘things’ is important. Technology and techniques change and evolve so much that you need to be willing to always be learning new things. Similarly I think being interested in learning and being inspired by other forms of making and art is the key to designing and making things that really stand out.

Any tips for keeping your concentration and your hands steady?

I think most modelmakers would answer this question differently each time you asked it, and it’s the kind of knowledge that comes with practice. What works best for me to stay focused is to listen to music, have a coffee, and get stuck in. The more outside distractions there are, the harder I find it to focus all my attention on to the task at hand.

 

This post forms part of our #futuremodelmakers campaign, celebrating the work of the 2020 student modelmaking graduates. Tag your work on Instagram to take part.