Illustrator Joshua Winston Scurville's inspirations vary from Japanese graphic design to jazz
With a refreshingly open approach, the Camberwell illustration graduate’s work bursts with innovative joy.
- Lucy Bourton
- 7 September 2020
- Reading Time
- 3 minute read
When illustrator and animator Joshua Winston Scurville was younger he found himself at a fork in the road, career wise. Stuck between studying a creative subject and pursuing his love for drawing, or heading off in a completely different direction and studying marine biology, luckily for us, he chose the former. Born and raised in West London, Joshua then headed south to Camberwell for his art foundation, sticking around at its campus for a BA in illustration, and is now about to embark on an MA in screen printing there too.
Flitting between illustration, animation and printing throughout his practice, you can always tell a Joshua Winston Scurville piece by his ability to portray movement with just pen and paper, and his vibrant colour palette. Discussing whether he has a signature visual language, Joshua explains it’s something other people tend to comment on rather than himself: “With my work I’m always trying to just play around and explore different styles, depending on the project I’m working on,” he tells It’s Nice That. Multiple inspirations and influences inspire this approach too, basing a lot of his practice “around music culture, especially hip hop, funk and jazz”.
It’s here that sprawls of references are mentioned by Joshua. At the moment it’s Cuban film posters that are spurring on his creativity – “They’re always mad colourful and playful, and I think it reminds me of my own work a lot,” he adds – but also Swiss graphic designers like Niklaus Troxler pop up in conversation, as well as 80s Japanese graphic design to the spreads in 90s hip hop magazines, and contemporary illustrators like Nicholas Burrows and Gaurab Thakali. Although not directly obvious in his approach, in opening himself up to a vast buffet of creative options, “it just gets me riding on the wave of inspiration.”
Being refreshingly open to creative possibilities is also how Joshua’s managed to develop such an impressive practice so early in his creative career. Recalling this growth now, he explains that at first during his foundation “all my drawings were always quite technical,” whereas on his BA, “I started loosening up.” In second year Joshua’s class was encouraged to try their collective hand at animation, and, “at this point I had no idea where to even begin,” says the illustrator. Inspired by a piece by the always wildly colourful Jim the Illustrator, “at first I tried making a mad colourful animation, but found it too time consuming” when it came to colouring each and every frame. Settling on an approach where colour was used minimally but boldly, in a way that also suited the speed of a university brief, Joshua settled on an approach to animation that utilises drops of colour with maximum character.
A further example of this approach is Hey Mr DJ, an animated short by Joshua of looping characters dancing. Made at the height of London’s lockdown earlier this year, “when the seasons were changing from spring to summer,” it was partly inspired by what the illustrator would have been up to, if things were a little more normal. Utilising the endlessly long stretch of time, Joshua’s aim was to “create an animation which resembles a music video of a party, with that summer feel to it,” he explains, also continuously referring to “90s and early 2000s RnB music videos,” too.
Colour is used far more boldly in his still works, an attribute driven by Joshua’s love for screen printing. One piece of his, Animals, nods to this approach and is also a piece Joshua notes as being a proud favourite. A piece full of animals housed in illustrated squares, it was the first time he’d attempted to screen print with a wide range of colours but now “Screen printing is probably my favourite way of producing work,” he tells us.
It’s this realisation that led Joshua to decide to embark on an MA in the medium. After morphing his illustrations to animations, bringing pieces “to life by screen printing” has affirmed itself as the most rewarding process for Joshua so far. But, still always open to options whether it’s a drawing of a parrot or a jazz record’s sleeve, who knows where Joshua might be finding creative joy next.
GalleryAll images by Joshua Winston Scurville
GalleryAll images by Joshua Winston Scurville
Joshua Winston Scurville: Guy Smoking (Copyright © Joshua Winston Scurville, 2020)
About the Author
Lucy joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in July 2016 after graduating from Chelsea College of Art. In October 2016 she became a staff writer on the editorial team and in January 2019 was made It’s Nice That’s deputy editor. Feel free to get in contact with Lucy about new and upcoming creative projects or editorial ideas for the site.