Design Knowledge Intermediary
Futuristic Washington DC for Minority Report
Reactor for the film Galaxy Quest
Fly By done for the film Minority Report
James Clyne
(By Ali Vatansever)

Currently, I'm a Conceptual Illustrator for the film industry, but once in a while I tend to deviate into industrial design and fine art. After studying Fine Art and painting at the University of California at Santa Barbara, I went on to study Industrial Design at Art Center College of Design, where I focused on transportation design, product design and entertainment design.

After graduating in 1996, I began my professional career designing environments and developing characters for Sega, Activision, and Pulse Entertainment. Eager to stretch into other creative fields I found myself on a short stint on Terry Gilliam's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas conceptualizing props and sets. Since then I've had the opportunity to work with companies such as ILM, Warner Brothers, Universal, 20th Century Fox, Sony, and Dreamworks Studios. Check out the "projects" page for an in depth look at my work along with explanations and project breakdown."

With a few words, who is James Clyne?

I am a California native working in the Los Angeles entertainment industry which includes film, industrial design, commercial, and game design. Currently live in Los Angeles with my wife and cats.

While studying, with your words, you tend to deviate to Industrial Design and Fine Arts. What leads you to cinema industry?

Mostly the freedom of exploration leads the design that the film industry allows. For example, one month I can be researching and designing sets for an ancient Greek city, and the next month creating designs for a non-existent futuristic city in Washington D.C.

Having an industrial design background and designing for cinema industry. Learning to design for real world and then designing dream worlds? Do you notice some differences between them?

Yes of course, "real world" designing must take into account the inner structure, the functionality and market for that product. In film, the set or prop remains a facade or an allusion, with no marketability other than helping tell a story. Both I find a challenge and fun to explore.

What is your point of view to design and cinema?

Always challenge the consumer or audience to open up to new ideas.

What do you expect from your designs?

Personally, I just hope that I am constantly challenging myself in my work and always staying fresh and innovative.

What is expected from your designs? Does somebody limit your work?

When working on a project there is always going to be someone looking over your shoulder? That someone has a preconceived idea of what they want. My job is to best represent that idea and hopefully add as many of my own ideas to the mix. When working for someone else, there is always going to be limits.

What are the influences of your designs to your life and your life to designs?

I think the products I buy, the car I drive, or the furniture I have in my house influence my work.

How do you feed your designer core?

I try to read as much as possible, travel, museums, looking at current trends in fashion, product design, automotive design, technology, and architecture.

What is design to you?

Any object that evokes an emotion, that emotion even can be a negative or positive one. As long as you spend moment thinking about that object, I think its successful design.

What is the role of computer in your designs?

Today, the role of the computer is very important, but should never be substituted for drawing skills alone. One should always have a deep understanding in the Arts (drawing, painting, sculpture...) as well.

Art and design? Do they really support each other?

Most certainly, I believe they go hand in hand. In fact, most often I find it hard to separate the two. I think it's important to have both in mind when doing anything creative.

As a designer in cinema industry, you always have to think about and realize the future. Could you please describe your future concept?

That's a pretty big question. The future is whatever we make it. No one can obviously predict what life will be like 100 years from now. As a designer, all I can do is guess, and take into account current trends and technologies. For film, it's about convincing the audience that this is what the future could be.

In your opinion, how will cinema look like in the future?

The digital revolution will have a strong influence on the future of film. Digital cameras, characters, actors, set, and so on.

What are your future plans?

Keeping expand my education in design. I am beginning work with a large architectural firm, finished a book of concept design with six other fellow designers, and will be doing more film work in the next month.



The culture you appreciate;
Just got back from doing some work in London. Wonderful city, especially for design.

The country you want to live in;

The cuisine you enjoy;
Tai or Indian food

The drink you prefer;
Jack Daniels on the rocks.

The painter who influences you;
J.W. Waterhouse

The author you like;
Frank Herbert

The book genre you prefer;

The movie you like;
Blade Runner, Molholland Drive, Dune, the Shinning

The film director you like;

The music you listen;
From techno to blues.

The design you like;
Audi TT

The designer you respect;
Raymond Loewy


This interview was made in 2003. Designophy © 

- www.jamesclyne.com