Josh Nelson on being a people-watcher and designing his own board game
Josh Nelson doesn't own a car. Because of this, he regularly takes public transport around his home of Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland), watching fellow Kiwis interact on bus and rail.
"It usually gets me pumped to draw some weird interaction I see, or somehow incorporate it into a larger drawing," the young creative 'fesses up.
The work Josh creates is full of people and faces funny expressions, big round eyes, and a buzzing atmosphere going on in his busy scenes. The atmosphere is probably what a Simpsons/Beano crossover would look like.
"My style is definitely inspired by cartoons I watched growing up, as well as illustrators like Kyle Platts and Nick Edwards. Mostly the thing that inspires me the most is making myself laugh, though. Most of my illustrations are just a series of terrible jokes crammed together until it looks like something."
Interestingly, Josh has actually worked in animation, designing backgrounds for The Vloggingtons, a short-form cartoon broadcast on New Zealand channel TVNZ.
"I feel like I've learned so much since starting working on the show, both from a drawing perspective and a time management one. It has been so cool to see it all coming together, and it's made me so much more aware of all of the different moving parts in this scale of production."
"I would love to keep working more in animation, and actually figure out how to animate my own drawings — I've had a crack at doing bits here and there, but nothing major."
Josh usually works with a limited palette which he arbitrarily decided upon once while working on an assignment, not letting go since. "I think it helps with taking some of the extra stress out of the way, but I should probably work on expanding it a bit more in the future."
The artist's most recent assignment was working on a poster illustration for the organisation Bike Waikato, which runs events to get people out and on their bike in the region of Waikato.
"I had a super fun time working on it, but definitely underestimated the time it would take, and ended up with some pretty long nights to get it done. I haven't had much of a chance to do illustration work recently, so it was good to get back at it and remember how much fun I have with it."
The New Zealander also designed a board game with Game Kings last year called The Girls Just Want To Get Drunk, the visuals in which he had complete creative control over.
"Seeing it all in person at the end of it was so sick: being able to pick it up and actually play the game was really exciting. Getting the job was an odd process; I was really keen on the idea of making a game, and my now-fiancé convinced me to cold-email them. Surprisingly they got back to me and were super keen to work together — from there it was smooth as!"
For 2021, Josh would like to fulfil his long-held dream of drawing a large-scale illustration of Tāmaki Makaurau as he did with Kirikiriroa (Hamilton) when living there.
"Even though my Kirikiriroa piece looks pretty dated compared to my other stuff, I think it was super informative in finding my sweet spot for illustration, and figuring out where I wanted to take my career. Maybe I'll redraw that one at some point anyway."
You should definitely follow Josh Nelson on Instagram @joshprobably.