Jody Thomas: Digital Fire

"I want a massive head carved out of polystyrene."

26th May 2018

Jody is an art director and graffiti artist. He started painting at the Barton Hill Youth Club with Banksy, Inkie & Cheo in the late 80’s and now exhibits around the world with See No Evil Gallery and the Affordable Art Fair. You may have seen his work dotted around Bristol, on magazine covers, or at Upfest.

We spoke to him about why he made the move to Filwood.

jody thomas artist filwood green business park

Nice to meet you Jody, can you tell us how you ended up at Filwood?

I came here three years ago when it first opened. I lived nearby and was always driving past it, then someone told me about the workshops.

My studio at the time was in a 17th century barn up in Chew Valley on my friend’s farm. It was lovely in the summer but absolutely freezing in the winter. I would get there and I had to traipse though his orchard, which was often muddy. I converted the barn so I had place to do my artwork and I transformed my loft at home into an office, but I knew I had to move.

I drove into Filwood and it still had that new smell. I had a look around and then Sarah on reception showed me this workshop. She said it was £312 per month, with three month’s rent up front, no contract, free wifi, tea and coffee on tap, use of the facilities, parking, showers and kitchens. I’d be stupid not to have taken it.

What was the most important thing to you about a work place?

The environment is fantastic here and they have air conditioning!

I said; “Look, I am an artist, I am going to be painting in here” and she told me it shouldn’t be a problem, but you have to state your case because they are looking for businesses with an eco leaning. My main client at the time was, and still is, Westonbirt Arboretum which obviously carries a lot of ‘green’ weight.

Before I knew it, I moved in.

What do you like most about Filwood?

It feels like an extension of my home. I can bring my kids here, we watch films together on the projector, and after 5 o’clock all the gates are locked so they can go out and play in the car park; it’s very safe.

Has your businesses expanded since being here?

Yes, I’ve had work from other people here. A guy two doors down asked me if I was the artist and then gave me his number and said “I want two portraits of my daughters”. I get a certain amount of exposure just from being here.

And finally, do you feel a sense of community here?

Being so close together, it’s natural.

North West Media Centre is over the courtyard, so if I have something really intricate like a stencil to cut then they’ll do it for me. Tom from North West came in here yesterday and said “could you just paint this to see how it would come out?”. I’ve had all my bikes serviced by Temple Cycles, and all my graphics done by Think Image. I’m looking to commission the 3D printing guys soon because I want a massive head carved out of polystyrene.

So yes, there is definitely a community here at Filwood.

jody thomas artist filwood green business park
Inhabitant: Issue 01