So this Saturday, we headed over to Leeds to interview the young illustrator, Josh Parkin.
GTE; So Josh, for the few that won’t have already heard of you, tell us about yourself.
JP; 23 year old freelance illustrator from Leeds, but currently working out of a studio in Huddersfield.
GTE; Tell us a bit about Josh Parkin Illustrations.
JP; Basically started Josh Parkin Illustrations from coming out of uni and ran with it whilst working part-time and finally got to the point where I had enough clients and work to take it freelance.
GTE; You were illustrating whilst working part-time? What other jobs did you have whilst doing it?
JP; Ha, worked in some pretty bad places, worked at Primark, Republic, Poundworld and just basic pot washing jobs. It made me realise that I didn’t want to do this for the rest of my life. I didn’t want to be told when I can go for my dinner or how long I’m allowed for it. I wanted to be in charge of myself and had so much of a passion for illustration that I knew I could drive myself to do it each day without having someone to tell me what to do.
GTE; So, is that one of the main reason you went freelance?
JP; Throughout uni I was constantly thinking of how I could make a transition to the real world without the comfort of tutors telling you what to do. I knew that a load of people came out with a degree but ended up in a sh*t banking job or a call centre, working 9-5 every day so I wanted to make what I invested into my time at uni worthwhile, it wasn’t until the last year that I realised “sh*t, I need to get my act together” and I felt social media helped me have a tiny bit of a presence online, which was helped in a massive way.
GTE; Why? How has social media helped?
JP; Well, without, like, Instagram and stuff like that, with me putting my work up constantly, people see it immediately. When I first finished uni, still living in Liverpool, I aimed to do ‘A Drawing A Day‘, so I setup a tumblr and just uploaded a drawing a day, tagging in the brands relevant to that drawing. Before I had an iPhone, my main source of social media was through Twitter, but I find it much harder to get a retweet whilst on Instagram, its an immediate like. For one RT in an hour, you can get 40 likes on Instagram.
GTE; With regards to art, who do you look upto?
JP; Throughout college and uni, my main influence was Pete McKee, the Sheffield artist. Ben Lamb, as well, he was the first person I saw drawing the clothes that I actually wanted to wear, which kind of made me realise I didn’t have to draw children’s illustration or be put in a certain bracket, I can draw what I like and what I want to wear.
GTE; You released some limited edition tees in 2012, do you have any more plans to bring out your own clothes?
JP; I think there’s too many people and independent brands, who I’m in contact with or friends with, who are releasing such a high quality t-shirts or jackets, I don’t feel there’s much point delving into that area. I’d rather do a collaboration with a brand than bring my own out. Nowadays, you need a huge backing financially. It’s okay me having a bit of an internet presence but I’d want to bring out high quality products that I’d be happy with rather than printing on a shirt they can only wear twice. I think whilst the cost of a quality print is still quite high it’s something I’m just going to leave to the top brands.
GTE; We saw the recent prints with Casual Connoisseur, is there anything planned for another release in the future?
JP; There’s nothing penned in at the moment, but Casual Connoisseur is the kind of brand where you can just have a brainwave for a drawing, send them it and they’d run with it, which is what I like about them. They have planned released but will also come up with a random design and run with it, they’re great.
GTE; What are your favourite brands at the moment?
JP; When I was at college and going to the football, that’s where I started looking at adidas and viewing trainers as collectables rather than just wear and tear. Past brands would be adidas, One True Saxon or just brands that Hip, in Leeds, would be storing. When they were in Thorntons Arcade, I’d go in without the wage to do it and just save every last penny to get a decent outfit for a certain game or a weekend. Current brands it’s stuff that’s made to be worn rather than purely aesthetically pleasing. There’s your more affordable brands like Carhartt or Universal Works then you get more expensive brands like Beams, but you know what you’re getting and that you can wear it for years. There’s up and coming brands like Uniform Generales, I’ve had a t-shirt for two years now and the prints still immaculate. Brands that do the research before they bring something out.
GTE; So what visions do you have for Josh Parkin Illustrations?
JP; I’ve been in the studio for about 8 weeks now and I’ve got my feet on the ground, I’ve got my routine, a lot of it is self driven. The next stage is just to expand, keep networking, I have to throw myself into it. You only really get out what you put in. If you’re not willing to go to these meetings or these exhibitions then you’ll just get pigeon holed and you’re not going to expand from there. As long as I keep on talking, putting stuff online I’m going to get more people who can put me in line with work. I’m comfortable at Huddersfield now, I’m enjoying working, I’m enjoying what I’m doing with a good set of clients at the moment. I can’t complain, I’m loving it.
GTE; You recently for a ‘regram’ from Action Bronson, let us know about that.
JP; So basically, went into the studio on I think it was a Tuesday or Wednesday and didn’t have much on so just decided to draw an Action Bronson drawing, I’ve followed him for a while but at the moment he’s become the cool rapper to draw, I’m not the first, I know that because he’s so out of the norm, he’s not your normal rapper, he’s a massive white guy with a ginger beard. I basically drew him, put it online on Instagram, tagged him in it and it wasn’t until the next day he put it on his Instagram and linked it to his Twitter then my phone just blew up, started crashing because of people following me or tweeting me. I mentioned that I wanted to send him the original illustration so I let him know and asked if he wanted me to send him it and I’m not sure he fully knew what I meant, he said he was in Bristol but obviously I couldn’t get a train to Bristol so he DM’d me on Twitter asking how he could get the illustration and that it was a beautiful piece of work, I think he mentioned. So he asked if I could get to Birmingham. The next day I got my tickets, headed to Birmingham, he didn’t really give much away, obviously with him probably having thousands of people contacting him all the time, so he said just be in Birmingham early. I just wandered around hoping he’d message me and it got to 5 o’clock and contemplated going home, thinking I’d made the wrong decision, then he messaged me on Twitter saying “I’ll see you at the gig tonight, don’t worry” but I didn’t have a ticket so he put me on guestlist. I got there and got searched by the bouncers, eager as fuck to find drugs and that, so they were searching the tubes that had my drawings in, smelling them for weed. I got in and headed through to the ticket bit and found out I was actually Action Bronson’s plus one, which was quite surreal. I was stood at the front where the barriers were when his production guy noticed me from the writing on the tubes in my hand, he said that Bronson wasn’t here yet. It got to 8.15 and I had a train at 9 when a bouncer shone a big flashlight on me and took me to meet Bronson in his backstage area, I met him and he gave me a load of praise and said how pleased he was at me turning up.
GTE; What was he like personally?
JP; Just what you’d expect him to be like, he was pretty calm, a bit smaller than expected but just a massive personality. He made me feel like I knew him for years. He actually went on stage late because he was busy signing all my prints and insisted on doing a different tag on each print, with him being a graffiti artist himself. But what I didn’t know was that his manager and driver had arranged for me to get a lift to the train station so I headed through a backdoor into this massive, blacked out people carrier and took me straight to the station, sent me off and that was it. It must have lasted about ten minutes but I was that starstruck and taken away that someone like this, who you’ve been listening to for years, is appreciating your stuff and is genuinely impressed. It was crazy.
A massive thanks to Josh for the interview and the pubs. If you don’t already, which you probably will, follow him on @joshparkyart on Instagram or @JoshParkin on Twitter.