Nexus: With such a distinct style of illustration, do you find it hard to establish footing as a brand?
Josh: I think it’s actually the opposite – having a style that’s distinct allows me to stand out from other illustrators. I definitely have been passed up on gigs or have had to work in other styles for freelance stuff, but it’s not super common. I’ve found if I just make work that looks like what I want to be doing, I generally get people wanting to work with me because they like my stuff, rather than just working with me because they need an illustrator.
Nexus: What is your favourite project to date?
Josh: I think most of my favourite stuff doesn’t make it out of my sketchbook. There’s something about a sketch, when you’re really in the zone, that feels ‘right’. Often, whatever was good about it gets smushed out of it in the process of cleaning it up for people to look at. I’ve been super lucky to work on a lot of cool projects though, from animation to board games to the branding for a dope fried chicken restaurant (Comes First Chicken Diner). I can’t really complain too much.
Nexus: You do a lot of work for the Green Party, how did this come about?
Josh: I moved to Auckland after I finished studying, and basically didn’t know anybody. Chlöe Swarbrick and a bunch of sick people were running a ‘Two Ticks’ campaign for Auckland Central, and me and my fiancé ended up volunteering a bit. From there it’s just a bit of mates helping out mates, and wanting to make dope stuff for things you give a shit about. I think one of the coolest things you can do as a creative and someone with a platform is to give opportunities to people whose work you like.
Nexus: What’s something you want to work on and create in the future?
Josh: I definitely want to do more work in animation or make a show that looks like I drew it would be so sick. Doing more collaborative stuff would also be great – I’ve been throwing around the idea of doing an anthology comic or something with a bunch of different artists, so that would be sick. There’s way too much that I want to do and I think it’s pretty easy to get choice paralysis – just gotta get out there and start doing it.
Nexus: Is there a piece you’re exceptionally proud of?
Josh: Proud is not really a feeling I think I associate with my work. I never really finish it and think, “Damn, that’s really good!”
It’s usually more a case of hoping that whoever I need to hand it to doesn’t think it’s shit. Something that I’m glad I finished and got through was my first background design job.
I got the opportunity right before the first lockdown, and couldn’t really pass it up. I was still working full time in a design agency to pay the bills, and was working on the bus on the way to work, during my lunch break, on the way home and then through most of the night to hit deadlines. I’m stoked that I managed to finish it, but it wasn’t great for my mental health. Overall it was a really exciting experience and I learned heaps from it.
Nexus: Is there a method to your madness? Is there a particular way you approach your work?
Josh: Not really, I just redraw it again and again until time runs out. I usually start with a brief if it’s paid work, or an idea from a sketchbook that I liked. From there it’s just iteration after iteration, constantly questioning what I’m doing and whether it’s right – then eventually I have to hand it in. That’s usually when it’s done, sometimes I’ll come back to it and redraw it for myself.