Interview: Josh Parkin (Illustrator)
Here at Those NB’s we are always on the look out for new and interesting things that pertain to New Balance, and on our search we ran into Josh Parkin. Josh caught our eye because he showcases different New Balance sneakers in his art, incorporating them with characters and as center focal point pieces. Josh is a freelance illustrator in Leeds, UK. His illustrations show his quirky side along with his love for line work and colors. We got a chance to chop it up with him to breakdown his inspirations, artistic processes and his New Balance trainers. (Illustrations provided by Josh Parkin)
As an artist where do you get your inspiration?
I love drawing things I see everyday. I like to go on different websites, and create my own ‘Mental Shopping Basket’, then draw up my outfit in my own style. I get annoyed easily, so the best way to express how annoyed I am at certain people/ situations is to draw what I see and post it to a large audience (often tubmlr, twitter or instagram). Trainers (sneakers) are also a massive inspiration. I like to study models, draw them in different ways, and exaggerate features. I go through different phases, one week might be spent drawing trainers, and the next I might be drawing characters or weird monsters. The third week might be spent drawing monsters wearing the latest New Balance.
Can you describe your process when creating art?
I prefer to use books as reference. I collect loads of different books, from trainer studies to fashion lookbooks. I also use my own trainer collection as first hand research. Digging out pairs to draw from all sorts of different angles. When an object is in front of you, and you can touch and move it. You understand it better. It’s easier to break the object down, studying shapes, colours and measurements, rather than working image of the Internet. (colours saturated, image stretched)
What mediums do you most use? Why?
All my work is hand drawn, because, me and design programs don’t see eye to eye. I don’t have the patients to sit there watching tutorials on how to do things. It’s much easier to pick up a pen or pencil. You can brainstorm 10 pages of ideas in the time it takes to turn on your computer and open programs such as photoshop or illustrator. I have loads of sketchbooks lying around at home. Most of my artwork starts in those books. I use fine line or marker pens to bring an idea to life. Then scan it in and colour on photoshop (that’s about as far as my photoshop skills go).
What are your thoughts on the currently state of the sneaker game?
To be honest I’ve kind of chilled out a bit since moving back in with my parents. When I was at university it was crazy. Liverpool as a city is well known for its love of trainers. The people around me there influenced me. On more than one occasion I camped outside the Size? store waiting for a release. Id be lying though if I said I wasn’t interested, its just other things have to take priority (art equipment doesn’t come cheap once you account for printers, scanners, ink, papers). My trainer collection is something close to me, it holds memories and stories. I still cop a good 2 or 3 pairs a month, but when I was at uni it used to be 2 or 3 a day on some occasions. My mum would kill me if I did that now, which is one of the negative points about moving home after graduating from university.
What is your favorite New Balance sneaker?
The first NB model that made me think ‘shhhhit’ was the NB 1500. The shape was something else. All those tiny pieces of precisely cut material stitched together like a delicate patchwork quilt, sat proudly on the thickest sole ever. They looked futuristic man. The 3d ‘N’ also sold them for me. That just pops out at you.
What makes New Balance memorable to you? Why?
When I first started doing freelance illustration work, (in my final year of university), the guy I worked for had links with someone at New Balance. I don’t know who it was, or how they became friends; he was kind of a mystery character. Each time we met up, I’d be praying that he brought along a pair of NB’s for me. He did so twice, which was good, it kind of worked as an incentive. What was even better though, was knowing no one else would have the same colourway as you. That’s colour combination was exclusive to you only. That big ‘SAMPLE: NOT FOR RESALE’ stamp on the inside of each shoe was something to be proud of, something to show off.
What do you see New Balance doing differently than other brands?
Something that other brands seem to have recently started copying, Pushing the whole ’Made in Britain’ thing. The Flimby factory videos they released really appealed to me. I liked the way they introduced different members of the production team. The mini video interviews showed a work side, and a personal side to each worker. Personally, I’d rather pay extra for locally sourced materials. The ‘Visit Flimby’ website showed a family, and when you bought the New Balance shoe, the people who were benefiting was the people featuring on the video. Not only were you keeping New Balance in business, you were providing the production team with jobs.
What are your next upcoming projects we can check for?
Trainer wise, I plan to make the ‘Trainer Takeover’ project further. A limited edition set of posters, and possibly Post Cards are currently being developed. I’m a freelance illustrator trying to make a name for myself and move up the ladder, so collaborations with brands and other creative’s are always an option. I’m currently going through the process of developing new tshirts, so keep an eye out for new designs coming shortly. My blog is where I post development work and ideas adadvault.tumblr.com and my online shop can be found at joshparkyart.bigcartel.com.