Full-time artist and designer James Showler is originally from England but now calls Auckland home. His bold, hand-drawn style is influenced by music, urban culture and a love of type, amongst other things. Not only does he have an impressive body of commissioned and commercial work (which you can check out on his website here), he’s recently launched a range of art prints through endemicworld under the brand name W&AP (Wing and a Prayer).
Is design/art a full-time job for you now, or if not – what is your ‘day job’?
Yes it is my full time job, I have wanted to do it for a long time. I remember at school back in England, they asked me what I wanted to do for a living. I told them I wanted to do something related to art or drawing for a living.
What are you working on right now?
I have just finished a commission which has taken up a lot of my spare time recently so I am looking forward to starting on some new personal art projects. I have lots of ideas so I really want to start exploring some of them.
Can you tell us a little bit about your process – from inspiration to final piece?
I often just write things on my hand or on my phone when I see something interesting or strange, even if it is just an observation. I have notebook with lots of random thoughts written down which I often refer to. If I really like an idea I will not be able to stop thinking about it so it becomes really fun to explore it further. I reckon only about 5% of things I write down make it this far but it is immensely satisfying to see something finished and framed.
Tell us about your creative space/office – what’s in it, what things you do love to have around you as you create?
I don’t really like to sit in a specific space to work on stuff. I have tried many times to create a designated space but it always feels unnatural and I find myself just staring into space and getting easily distracted. I find it easier just to create when I am in the mood, wherever I am. As long as I have my laptop and a pen and paper I can work anywhere initially.
Beside art/illustration, what else do you love to do?
I love to go to as many different places as much as I can with unfamiliar surroundings. As long as I am close to the ocean I am pretty happy.
What would be a dream collab/project you’d love to do?
I love music, so anything links art and music is a dream project. I recently worked with an amazing band called Whistlejacket and helped create a crest for their band. They are four really creative guys so it was very satisfying to see something I had helped create, associated so closely with their music.
Another great collaboration project I was recently part of was helping create the look and feel for ‘Better Burger’ in Auckland. For me they were both great examples of how good it is to collaborate with really creative people.
NZ Band Whistlejacket; close up of the Better Burger wrapper – Better Burger’s logo and art direction was created by James
What words of advice would you give to someone wanting to make their talent into a career?
I don’t think I am really qualified to advise other people, but I do think that the sooner you stop worrying about what everyone else thinks of your work and do what you think, the sooner you can develop your own style and focus more of what you want to do.
When are you at your most creative?
It’s definitely when I’m not trying to be. I think it is important sometimes just to switch off and take things in and trust that an idea will develop naturally, without trying to force it.