We’re so excited to launch Josh’s new collection which celebrates the great outdoors. Find out more about the inspiration behind Josh’s designs and watch for his inspiration.
What trends inspired you?
With Covid related lockdowns now a thing of the past, I found myself desperately trying to reconnect with nature. My Chapter 2 craft designs were inspired by the ‘back to the wild’ trend we are seeing from makers worldwide.
Nature and travel are my passions in life and after our time in lockdown, I thought others like me would be bursting to connect with the outdoors again. I brought the outdoors into my craft studio by theming all my Sizzix die designs around nature and the outdoors so now, even a rainy afternoon in a cosy craft room can take us to the outdoors.
Where did you draw inspiration from?
In 2016, I hiked thousands of miles between the Mexican and Canadian borders along the Pacific Crest Trail on the west coast of North America. This remains one of the most inspiring and challenging things I have ever done. No matter the weather, the mountains are my happy place so I took my inspiration from all I have seen on various hikes, whether that be wild animals, stunning views or rustic signposts to tell you when you’re on the right track. I enjoy looking back at the photos I took and thinking about how that scenery could work as a craft die or embossing folder to create papercrafts or cards for a travel lover like me.
Tell us about your creative process
I always begin by hand sketching some ideas with pencil and paper. I know… get with the times eh?... But for me, this means getting the rough ideas in my head somewhere safe where they won’t be forgotten. From there I take to sites such as Pinterest where I gain further inspiration from the fantastic designers out there who share their work online, I love to see how crafters are using their craft dies and what materials they are diecutting. Then, I draw up some final designs and hand them over to our fantastic Product Design team who make sure they are properly formatted for production.
What are your favourite designs from CH2 and why?
My favourite design of my own from Chapter 2 has to be my Twilight Animals 666226. For years, I have loved seeing the animal dies and stamps in each chapter so the chance to design my own was exciting to me. I am an illustrator at heart and being able to release a stamp set with my own drawings into the crafting community is exciting! I can’t wait to see what people do with it. I'm hoping to see lots of cards, scrapbooks, wall hangings and loads more that have been created by the craft community. I'll be creating some craft projects of my own too so look out for my craft vlog on Youtube.
How do you envision creating with this design?
This set can be used in different ways because it is a die & stamp set. This means you can choose to use just the dies, just the stamps or combine them together. My favourite way to use this dies set is by stamping onto smooth white card or watercolour paper and using distress inks or watercolour paint with a paintbrush to colour. I like the idea of making children’s book style, hand-painted illustrations using the stamps with a stamped sentiment below. They’re also perfect for stencilling as the dies are silhouettes. I can't wait to see the cardmaking designs or cute Nursery wall decorations.
Do you have any projects planned with these designs?
I certainly have. I have actually already began creating with my designs already. This has been a lovely experience as I had many of the projects in mind while I was researching and designing the dies. I can't wait to create some how to video tutorials to give the crafters out their some inspiration.
What do you consider when creating die designs?
When designing dies, I always consider how they can be used by crafters with a range of different styles and making type preferences. I like to think about how crafters might use my craft die designs for handmade cards or home decor for their DIY projects.
I think about whether my designs could be used as stencils as well as die-cut elements? or if the stamps from the stamp/stencil set work on their own? If the dies theme will work throughout the year and be a favourite of the customers for years to come?
I also concentrate on all of the other dies coming out within that chapter and ask myself if they work together cohesively with many of them. For me, this gives added value to my designs.
In what unlikely places do you find new ideas?
Great question! Inspiration for designs can be found anywhere. I remember travelling to a show in the States where I noticed some graffiti on the side of a large dumpster. The typography was so beautiful that I took a picture to remind me to start some research on the style for a future stamp set. I don’t want to support criminal activity like graffiti but…. hats off to whoever did it. At least they know their craft! Inspiration can pop up from anywhere are really make your creativity burst with new craft ideas.
How does the creative community influence and encourage you?
The crafting community we have built on social media is what I live for! The kind words we receive about the designs we create and the content we put out giving inspiration for how to use them are what keep me trying to be a better designer every day. I see crafters from all over the world giving each other inspiration and spurring each other on to keep creating and I just hope our community grows and grows. What a lovely bunch of people!
Tell us about the excitement you feel when seeing makers create with your designs
I have poured my heart and soul into these craft designs, so I am incredibly excited to see what people make with them. I know our crafting community will come up with some projects that will blow my mind and I cannot wait to see them. Designing something and releasing it into the crafting world is scary and exciting at the same time. I feel anxious and almost vulnerable to see how they are received. When you have worked so hard on something so personal to you, I guess there will always be some nerves mixed in with the excitement.
How is art and craft a creative escape for you?
I have always found art and craft to be a fantastic escape. It’s incredible how an hour focusing on creating something beautiful can reset your mind and help you remember what life is really about. When I’m in my craft room, whether I’m making on my own or with friends, I make an event of it. No phone, no emails, just a world of creative possibilities. I focus on the craft project in front of me and spend time testing out compositions until I am happy with how it looks. I love to test out messy mixed media techniques using our Effectz range. Some will go in the trash but those few where I unlock a new technique become another string to my creative bow. I could really talk about this for hours!
How can art and craft be empowering?
I feel empowered as a crafter, but it has taken some time to realise my worth. Being able to design something that other people find beautiful is a rare talent and all creatives should be proud of that. I don’t believe creative people get enough respect in our fast-paced society. Wherever I look I see things designed by creative people whether that is the branding in a stylish café, a classic car on the road or a painting in a gallery. All these things need creative people to spark ideas and create something special. Sometimes even skilled creatives fail to recognise their own importance because they forget it has taken years of work to develop their abilities. Spaces to share your creativity are really important for empowering individuals and building communities too, like craft blogs, Youtube and other social media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest.
What do you enjoy most as a Sizzix Designer?
I am incredibly proud to be a Sizzix designer, it is my dream job and as a long-time fan of the brand I consider myself very lucky to be part of the team here. Working alongside designers like Jess Slack, Pete Hughes (and Alexis and Debbie over at our US office) every day gives me so much inspiration. We challenge ourselves and each other to create content that can inspire crafters year after year.
Sizzix provide me with everything I could ever need to be the best crafter I can be. Their extensive range of product keeps me feeling creative and able to try new things whether that is using Effectz products for trying out new mixed media techniques or adding the perfect embellishment from their wide variety of options.
On-top of this they are always developing new and exciting tools and accessories which enhance my creative abilities. I can’t wait to share what we have coming out soon. Exciting times!