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April 30, 2014

3:54 PM

Mike Spear
  • Mike Spear

Contributor Profile - Josh Powers of Cake and Kingdom

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This month we're taking you to a land where illustration reigns supreme. Whether it's an imaginative commercial poster, an off-the-cuff get well card, or even an expertly rendered chalkboard, the artwork of Josh Powers (aka Cake & Kingdom) takes us to more eye-catching world--a place where beautiful things are crafted, cut up, painted, and pasted into place. Here's what he had to say about his work:


What sparks your inspiration?

It's hard to pin down what exactly sparks my inspiration from day to day. It could be something I saw while taking a walk or a dream that I had last week or an old poster on a light post I noticed in my way to work. Inspiration comes in very subtle ways, you just have to be ready and take it when it comes.


How would you describe your style?

My style tends to be on the whimsical side. I guess I use my illustrations as a way to escape from the hustle and bustle of the real world, so there's no sobering commentary or poignant messages I'm trying to convey with my work. I just try to make stuff that might be fun to look at.


What's been the biggest singular influence on your work?

Just as it's difficult to corral certain things that spark my inspiration, it's an equally fuzzy proposition trying to point to a singular influence on my work. I think it's a million different things that I have seen since the time I started understanding what my eyes were looking at. It could be the countless Saturday morning cartoons I watched as a kid, fireworks, hand puppets, an old classmate from third grade, the back of a cereal box, magazines that my grandma used to have on her coffee table... like everyone else, I have sponged up all the sights and sounds that have been my experiences in life and what comes out are my illustrations.


Which project has given you the most satisfaction so far?

I used to be a chalkboard artist for Whole Foods Market and I still do freelance chalkboards from time to time. Out of all the design and illustration projects that I've been lucky enough to work on, I still really get a lot of satisfaction working on chalkboards. Maybe it's the tactile quality of the chalks or the idea that the chalkboard artwork is temporary and won't last forever, so I savor it a little more for a shorter time and then it's gone.


What do you do to keep your ideas fresh?

I try and draw or doodle every day. No matter how nonsensical or basic the sketch might be, there's always a little morsel of an idea that can be used as a springboard to something bigger. I have stacks and stacks of scrap paper full of doodles that I have yet to get to.


What compels you to design?

I've always liked the notion of using design and illustration as a way to convey a message or idea, whether it's an ad for coffee or a poster for a local band. It's fun trying to create something compelling enough for someone to want to look at, which has become more challenging in this age of ever shortening attention spans.


What computer programs and hardware do you use?

I primarily use Adobe Illustrator and some Photoshop on the computer side. I might also use tons of scratch paper, paints, pens, pencils, chalks, rulers and X-acto knives, depending on the project.

 Josh Powers illustration

Along with working for Corbis, what else do you do?

Besides working at Corbis I try to keep busy with freelance work. I also make paper goods that I sell online and at various stationery and gift stores around town. Besides my creative stuff, I'm lucky to have a tightknit network of family and friends close by to hang out with, including a dog named Ollie and a cat named Poops, who keep me busy and covered in animal hair.


One random tidbit about you that only someone close knows.

I'm fairly superstitious and have been known to carry around different objects that I have deemed "lucky" in my front pocket wherever I go. A flattened nickel run over by a train, a plastic Smurf figurine and a vintage bird pin are some of the "lucky" trinkets I have carried around since I was a kid.


 See Josh's work on Veer



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