JoshParkyArt x Barbour: Exclusive Interview

Fashion / April 12, 2019
by Johanna Roelich

Hi Josh,

Tell us a little bit about your history, where you’re from and how you first got into the art world scene?

I’m a freelance illustrator from Leeds, and I create my work under the name JoshParkyArt. I work from my studio in Huddersfield, which provides a great space to zone out and get creative. My story is similar to a lot of other artists. As cliché as it sounds, I have literally always drawn. My earliest memories as a kid would be coming home from school, setting up at the kitchen table and drawing until night. I’d be surrounded by a variation of pens and pencils, with tracing paper, sketchbooks and scrap papers scattered taking over the whole table. My mum always used to tell me off as I refused to use the other side of the paper, as it wasn’t perfect and you could see what was drawn on the reverse side.

How would you describe your art in three words?

Quirky, Humorous and Recognisable.

Is your art an extension of your personality?

I would say so, yes. Often I find myself sketching up responses to things I’ll see on social media. For example, I’m hugely influenced by fashion, football and the likes. So if a trainer or clothing release is announced or rumoured to release on a certain date, I’ll find myself creating characters that I could see buying into that look. It’s cool to create characters with a digital personality too! So maybe looking through my social feeds, or across different print publications, you may see the same, (or a similar character), but the facial expression or pose will be different, to suit the art direction.

When did you first realise that you had something special?

I have consistently drawn throughout my life, as a way to relax and escape – like some people would play on computer games or binge watch TV series. I guess with this in mind, my rise has been a gradual development. After studying art at school, I went to my local art college (Leeds), and then on to University in Liverpool. I didn’t want to waste that experience I had gained at University. The fear of not using my degree and what I had invested so much time and energy in to, really drove me to peruse a career in illustration. I had a belief that once I found my pocket in the creative industry, I could really start to explore that and make a living from what I love doing.

Where do you draw inspiration from?

Like mentioned before, I love to create illustrations in response to things that interest me. If I was working on a personal project, my go to area would be men’s fashion; I also find myself experimenting with women’s fashions more recently. As well as football, American sports, music and city landmarks to name a few. I also love to take inspiration from people I see on every day commutes. I like to make a mental note, and draw them up once I hit the studio. Alternatively, if I’m on a train for example, I’ll make a quick sketch to refer back to.

What’s the most exciting piece of artwork you’ve created?

I think it would have to be the connection I made with Action Bronson, all purely through my love for his music, and displaying that by illustrating him. I shared one illustration on instagram, and tagged him, (as you do). Before I could even get back to Leeds on the train, Bronson had reposted the illustration on his social pages. The likes of Hot97, Hypebeast and other pages also jumped on the illustration, with a huge outreach. Around this time, Bronson was actually touring the UK, and invited me to the Birmingham show, putting me on his guest list. I literally jumped on a train to Birmingham the next day, with a tote bag full of prints to give to him, as well as getting a few signed for myself. It was surreal that in the space of 24 hours I’d gone from uploading an illustration on Instagram, to sitting back stage with Action, Alan the Alchemist, Mayhem Lauren and the team, showing my work and chatting away.

Do you have one particular piece of work that really stands out to you and that you’re really proud of?

In 2016 I was invited to Dubai to work with adidas at the sneaker festival, Dubai DXB. This took place over the space of a weekend, in the Dubai Fashion District. For me, this was huge. The chance to travel to a country I’d never visited and to work for a brand I loved! I was commissioned by adidas to create a set of posters that would be handed out to each customer that bought a pair of adidias trainers. So whenever anyone bought a pair of Superstars, Stan Smith or ZX Flux, they were handed a JoshParkyArt print. During the 4 days that I was there, I had the chance to go to the adidas offices and listen to inspirational talks by the legends, Stan Smith and DMC. I even got the chance to draw them on one of the days, as well as a number of sneaker influencers from all over the world. It really was one of those moments where you have to take a step back and take it all in.

You’ve done a number of collaborations in the past, now you’ve teamed up with Barbour for Josh Parkin x Barbour. How did that opportunity come about?

I was able to share my work with employees at the brand and then I was invited to the HQ in South Shields to discuss ideas and take a look around the place, which was amazing. I liked that the Barbour range allowed a more playful approach, with few restrictions to my style and way of working.

What’s the inspiration behind the Josh Parkin x Barbour collection?

For the first project, I sat and worked with one of the employees, throwing back and forth ideas and ways in which we could transform Barbour from country to city. Merging two lifestyles was something that interested me, hence the reason we come up with characters like ‘The City Rambler.’ It was a challenge to bring to life every day activities like city exploring and dog walking, but one I think we tackled well. As well as activities, I wanted to look at ages, as you can see the three characters differ in age. The burst football scene shows a lad, we think around the late teens/ very early twenties. The city rambler is roughly 25-30 and the dog walker would be anything from 30 upwards.

The second project, the headshot graphic, was where I explored stereotypes with another member of the Barbour team. He had a great idea of exploring the types of people that wear the brand and the different occasions and events it may be seen. In a way, we explored stereotypes, and added a JoshParkyArt twist to things. In this design we have four completely different personalities, all wearing the same brand, and pulling it off to a tee.

Any other big collaborations coming up that you can tell us a little bit about?

There are always new things in the works. I love the way freelance life brings new opportunities day by day, and no two weeks are ever the same. The fact that I am not contracted to any one brand allows me the freedom to work across a number of projects simultaneously. In the next few weeks I have an in-store take-over planned with a major brand, and that will be taking place in Leeds City centre. It will involve me live drawing customers and transforming them in to one of my characters as they browse the store. It is something I’m hugely passionate about and love providing this service.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Thanks for the interview scotts! It’s always cool to be challenged with interesting questions, and sharing stories related to topics I genuinely love. Thank you also to Barbour, and the guys I worked with on the project. You trusted me to bring to life your ideas, and the end result truly reflects the beauty of collaboration, when done right.

Check out the collaboration collection here

Keep up to date with Josh’s work @joshparkyart,  or at joshparkyart.co.uk

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