Baggins Blog (BB): Hey Joshua! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself - How did you get your start in painting? Any random facts we should know about you?

Joshua Harms (JH):

How I got into painting is actually kind of a weird story. As a kid I was very introverted, I hated going to school because it made me feel so out of place. When I was in elementary school I got into trading cards as a way to distract from where I was, and because they always had such interesting art. I would spend my spare time at recess trading for cards that had artwork I loved, I didn't even know how to play any of the games. Eventually, I turned away from them and focused more on just creating my own art, creating my own characters and stories. I was always making artwork though, my mom is an artist and she inspired me to use my creative outlets.

Later in high school, I started painting on Magic: The Gathering cards mostly on a whim, I just seemed like a good idea to combine my art and the art I loved growing up. I loved the landscapes on the cards, so I would add to the card by taking tiny brushes and extending the art to cover the whole card. That was the first time I really sat down with acrylic paints, and It was really informative. Learning to colour-match perfectly and match someone else's art style on a canvas the size of a playing card was difficult, but the skills I picked up were invaluable.

BB: Can you tell us a little about how you found your signature style?

JH: I spent a lot of time worshipping other artists growing up. I was drawn into the growing community of artists on Instagram and tried my best to copy other peoples art styles rather than developing my own. About this same time I was falling in love with music, exploring different sounds and styles. I was really fascinated with the playing of Stevie Ray Vaughan, so I started researching how he got his iconic sound. What a pit to fall into, there are endless forums devoted to dissecting that topic. Eventually, I found a comment that basically said “You can't get Stevie’s sound because you don't have his hands, Stevie could get his sound on anything he could play with his hands”, that really hit me hard. After that, I stopped trying to copy other people's styles and purely did work that I found inspiring. I’ll still use reference, but I don't try to be something I’m not. After all, I only have my own hands.


BB: What is your favourite thing about being an artist?

JH: To start, I believe that art is a language. Being able to speak a language that is communicated as a visual, and received as a feeling to the viewer is so powerful to me. My work aims to very clearly convey emotion, and that process of turning my own emotions into a physical thing that others can observe never ceases to amaze me.


BB: Can you talk us through your Artist Collaboration with Baggins?

JH: A while back I got a commission to paint the clouds of Jupiter on a pair of Vans Classic Slip-Ons, I guess people liked them so much that I kept getting approached to design and paint custom shoes. I knew Baggins did these sweet custom printed shoes, so after a certain point it just felt right to reach out and show them what I was all about. A couple pleasant emails later and here I am, thanks so much you guys! 

I’ve really felt the need to prioritize nature in my artwork recently. Now more than ever it’s important that we all do our part to fight against climate change. If I can add to the conversation through my artwork then that's absolutely what I’ll do. The piece “Morning Mist” is a snapshot of the environment I grew up in, cedar groves in the cool morning light, clouds passing through a dew-soaked canopy. I wanted to capture the sense of size, the powerful feeling of a moment alone in an ancient forest.


BB: Why Converse? Any self-defining moments made in these kicks? – or – Can you tell us about your first pair?

JH: My first pair of Converse was a beat-up pair of Kurt Cobain Chuck Taylors that I found in a used clothes shop. They were mostly white, so inspired by the drawings already on the shoes I drew a West Coast seaside scene wrapping all around them. The first pair of Vans I had I couldn't help but customize. Looking back on that now it seems very fitting.

BB: What is your favourite thing to do in your city?

JH: I can't get over the beauty of nature in and around Victoria. My favourite thing to do would have to be tied between watching the incredible sunsets down by the water, or spending time hiking the West Coast trails.


BB: Who  have you been listening to recently?

JH: Iron and Wine - The Shepherd's Dog, Khruangbin - Live on Pitchfork, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard - Infest the Rat’s Nest, and at this particular moment, Duke Ellington & Coleman Hawkins - Limbo Jazz. 


BB: What are you currently watching on Netflix?

JH: I just recently finished The Dark Crystal; Age of Resistance, which was quite good. If you haven't seen the movie I would recommend watching that first.


BB: Can you tell us about the space where you create?

JH: It's kind of a split because I wear a few hats. For my artwork I work from my home studio, but I also design and build custom electric guitars through Harms Guitars, so I also spend time getting dusty in a shop setting.



BB: What are the circumstances where you feel most inspired?

JH: Anywhere I can be alone with my thoughts really. I’m lucky enough to be able to turn the creative faucet on at will, but not always lucky enough to turn it off. Being in nature always helps though, it makes it easier for me to clear my thoughts and get into that creative space.


BB: Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?

JH: Music, really good music.



BB: What inspires you? How do you stay inspired?

JH: Honestly that’s a tough question for me. I find inspiration everywhere because, for me, inspiration and mindfulness go hand in hand. I stay inspired simply by embracing the quiet moments in life, listening to my thoughts, and letting details in my environment inform my creations. Whether that’s the texture in tree bark, or the way someone's face catches the light walking down the street, for me it’s just about allowing those moments in, and being open to them.


BB: If you were a crayon, what colour would you be?

JH: Forest green, no question.


BB: What was the best concert you’ve ever attended?

JH: I saw Gregory Porter perform at the Royal Theatre here in Victoria. His music shook me to my roots. I really need to see him perform again.


BB: What advice would you want to tell artists  breaking into the “scene”? Tips for emerging/existing creatives?

JH: Allow yourself to get out of your own way. There’s this fear that threatens to keep you from pursuing your dreams, allow it to pass and don't hold yourself back.


BB: What do you want to be remembered for? 

JH: Is it weird that I don't mind if I’m not remembered for anything? I’m just happy creating, and being present in the moment.


BB: Any book/movie/podcast/etc recommendations?

JH: A podcast I can't get enough of is My Brother My Brother and Me. It’s a comedy podcast where these three brothers answer Yahoo answers questions. It’s such a blast, definitely show them some love. Book recommendations would be; Frank Herbert’s Dune, Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind, and The Toll of Everdoor by Rae Harrow. That last one is cheating a bit because It currently isn't out yet. I had the pleasure of being on the beta reading team for it, and it’s definitely worth waiting for.


BB: If you're stuck on a deserted island, what 3 things are you bringing?

JH: My acoustic guitar, my sketching supplies, and my Leatherman multi-tool. It’s important to know your priorities.


BB: Do you have a favourite piece of artwork? A favourite quote?

JH: Will St John’s “Sol” is one of my favourite pieces of art. My current favourite quote is “The mystery of life isn't a problem to solve, but a reality to experience.” Frank Herbert - Dune, 1965

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And that's that! Some useful advice for budding creatives, some insight on the inspiration behind those gorgeous hi-tops, and some top-notch podcast recos. If you need us, we'll be over here trying our best to be as centred and lovely as our friend Joshua. Follow him on Instagram!

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