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From shed to showcase: The artist known as Jode

From book launch to Polygon re-launch, Rachael Down discovers how local illustrator, Paul Jode stepped out of the shed and into the illustration business.

Whether it’s mixology, furnishings or underground literature, Paul Jode Designs helps to bring the local talents of Horsham to the front page. From hobby and passion to exhibitions and business, Paul’s style is both inoffensively brash and alluringly seductive.

[Pic: Mona Wick] – [Told you so.]

Meet Paul. As a Horsham local – North Heath born and bred – he works full-time for a pharmaceutical company and spends his evenings and weekends designing creatively clever masterpieces for his illustrative and graphic design commissions. Don’t get me wrong; he socialises too – he goes to the gym and even plays football. It’s just that, out of everything, art is his passion. 

And the thing is, you can see why. It really is art that works. Carefully planned and designed to please each client and their specific brief, Paul’s work is so delicately considered and layered with personality, it’s vibrancy can’t help but POP from the page. 

[Pic: The Dead Parrot Boys]

I know this because I’ve also known Paul for a long time. A childhood friend and North Heath neighbour, I’m one of the lucky spectators whose witnessed Paul’s talent ebb, flow and continuously grow over the last two decades. 

Shedfuls of creativity

Pre Dead Parrot, it’s fair to say that Paul’s talents were very much shielded from public viewing. So much so, it’s shocking and awesome to think that the most eye-catching statement art in Pirie’s place was hidden in such humble abodes. That’s right. Every creative piece from Jode’s collection began at the bottom of the garden. All from the comfort of his practical, non-showy, creativity-breeding shed. 

That is until now, of course. 

Commuter-town talents

His latest work is featured on the front cover as well as laced within the recently published Commuting: An Underground World, written by ex-Horsham resident Stephen Down. Delving deep into the bizarre happenings of tube life, CAUW is a real-life commuter’s account of underground journeys during peak times up town. 

Paul was given the creative license to create what he saw and interpreted from copies of first drafts and edits. What he’s produced both compliments and elevates Stephen’s words, tone and storytelling, so much so it’s already circulating across London’s underground world. Nabbed and promoted by TfL and Books on the Underground, CAUW and Paul’s accompanying illustrations are currently available on Amazon and Amazon Kindle. 

When asked about the book, Paul commented:

“I think the best part about working with Steve is that he trusted my interpretation. Because he’s based in London, most of our meetings and briefs were discussed over the phone, so most of the time I was left to my own devices.”

He went on to say: “I know they say that you don’t judge a book by it’s cover, but who actually believes that? That’s why I designed CAUWs front to represent the whole book in one page. Bit like a shop-front-window approach, showcasing the main attractions but not giving away the whole story.”

The Bar Formerly Known as The Dead Parrot

Spotted and commissioned first by Andrew Harrod, owner of The Bar Formerly Known as The Dead Parrot, you can admire Paul’s artwork first hand by heading to The Polygon. 

As a Horsham local, Paul admits to seeing many bars dazzle or disappointment residents over the last decade. 

Very much like his artwork that is now displayed in and outside such bars, there’s a dry twist and subtle comedic-style about him. Injecting humour-infused skill across the page, stencil, pixel, screen, wall, frame, underground and even on cushions, his illustrations, logos and cards are gaining in popularity. 

And while Poly may actually be gone, the rebirth, design lift and cocktails make this ‘new bird on the block’ Piries’ finest development. Mixology at its sharpest, The Bar Formerly Known as The Dead Parrot resurfaces wearing a clock that gives a massive hip-hop shout out to its former speak-easy vibes. And, like the many carefully selected and expertly made cocktails (not forgetting the devilish cakes), there’s a twist. 

Welcoming class without pretension, talented local illustrator, Paul Jode mixes renaissance masterpieces with a pop-culture spice inside and out. Exuding a sense of wacky familiarity, Paul’s artwork cleverly infuses figures from other local faces, bar staff and millennial icons to welcome guests of past and present. 

For art-related enquiries and commissions, visit: www.pauljode.com. 

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