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In conversation with James Bywood

The creatives behind Adventurous Ink

Several years ago I was lucky enough to be taught to screen print by an artist who's work had hung on my wall for some time: James Bywood. Since then James and I have continued to chat in various guises, particularly at print fairs in Yorkshire. Unfortunately these usually involve me coaxing two small children round a large hall filled with interest that they are totally oblivious to.

Whilst gathering the creative collective for Adventurous Ink, James and I took the excuse for a proper catch up. We headed to a local cafe where we stoically resisted the charms of their brunch menu, whilst cooking up plans of our own. It turned out that the scheme was just the thing James was looking for to push his creative boundaries, and reach new audiences without having to stand in drafty halls all weekend.

And lo, Adventurous Ink was born, with his print featuring as a free gift for all subscribers. Lets hear what he has to say about it...

Why is there such a strong outdoor element in your work?

I pretty much grew up outdoors. Right from the word go my parents took me on adventures through the Lakes and Peaks. Lessons learned as a child seem to come back and influence me in later life. I don’t think it’s too strong to say that due to the influence of my parents in my formative years, I now have an yearning to be outside, in the wild, as much as I can.  

Tell us about your style and technique 

It’s taken a while to get here, but I now think I have a recognisible style. Only through trial and error has this become the case. Like most things in life, practice makes perfect, with the mistakes made along the way helping to evolve my style to what it is today. I predominantly use screen print as the medium with which to capture images. I enjoy the restriction in the colour palate enforced by this print process. I initially explore and photograph anything that looks interesting. I then take these images and produce drawings that help me work out a good composition and colour scheme. 

Tell us a story from your best adventure ever 

I’m perhaps a little staid with my adventures in comparison to others in the Gather Outdoors family. I do however enjoy allowing myself the time to get a little lost whilst out on my walks. With a straight A to B route I find things become a little tense, route finding dictates what you do next, and there are no opportunities to bumble across something different and new. I do set out with a destination in mind, but allow myself the time to enjoy the element of chance that comes with unplanned diversions. Finding a new vantage point for a well worn view makes all the twisted ankles, scratched arms, and returning back to the car in the pitch black all that more worthwhile. 

Who do you enjoy being outside with most? 

Being a little bit introverted I prefer my own company when exploring and documenting new ideas. However, my Dad has been a great influence on my adventures so I do enjoy the opportunity to walk with him whenever possible. Like me, he is quite taciturn, so we get on quite fine together out on the fells. I do also enjoy introducing my young family, my wife-to-be and 2 year old son, to the world I love. Arthur has already scaled Castle Crag, and explored the beautiful woods around Grassington. 

Do you find the outdoors helps with the creative process? 

Without doubt. I’m not myself if I can’t get outside regularly. Whilst I stock pile images to work from – both in my head and in my sketchbook – I find the freedom needed to relax and produce my best work only comes after a good walk. 

Is there an outdoor essence you are trying to capture in your work? 

Without hopefully sounding too pretentious, I do try to capture the way I feel about a place in my work. I’m endeavoring to push this through further in my current work. I feel that it’s only through developing a confidence in my visual style that I can then start to think about the more esoteric elements. 

Without giving anything away, can you give us a hint about thoughts for your Adventurous Ink contribution?

Tim gave me an interesting and challenging brief when he invited me to be involved with the Adventurous Ink project. Luckily however, I often find through enforced restrictions that my work improves. Necessity is the mother of invention. The Castle Crag (Riso version) print I have generated for the launch of the Kickstarter campaign is the first results of this partnership.

Thanks James! Glad we could get those creative juices flowing. Look forward to working with you some more. The Riso print he created is below, and is a free gift for all our Kickstarter subscribers.

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