Welcome back to our first Cabinet Session of 2024. We are happy to introduce Josiah Goldsmith (Joe), a British artist and Illustrator who often uses Makers Cabinet tools alongside his trusty Rotring pens and watercolours. In celebration of Valentine’s Day, we set Joe the task of exploring depictions of love through historical and mythological sources.

Please enjoy reading this Cabinet Session to find out more about the illustrations and the illustrator himself. If you'd like to check out more of Joe's work visit his website josiahgoldsmith.com or his Instagram @thejosiahgoldmith

How do you describe your style of work? 

My work kind of fits into a few categories - art, design, and craft. Describing my work would be the same as describing me - kinda softly spoken, romantic, but with a bit of a modern edge at times? It’s a kind of contemporary arts & crafts… or a luxurious DIY maybe?

What got you into drawing and what has your journey been? 

I guess my dad - he’s a portrait painter, and that influence was always there. I also remember lying on my stomach copying drawings from comic books and children’s books. I liked Jim Lee and Chris Riddell as a kid, and I think that influence is still there today.

If you could take a tour through the sketchbooks of any artist which would it be and why?

I love Gustav Klimt’s approach to sketching. Klimt would sketch on loose paper (which is what I do, as it’s cheap) and he seemingly had very little attachment to his sketches. He’d allow his cats to play with scrumpled-up sketches, or even to pee on them!

Which illustrations or illustrators do you derive inspiration from?

Besides those I’ve previously mentioned… there are so many. Practising today, you’ve got Daria Song or Ioana Pioaru Edouard Baribeaud for sure (actually a lot of the artists working with Hermes). I’m currently really into Pierre Le Tan’s work, and Alphonse Mucha’s work is on pretty much every mood board I’ve ever pieced together.

What are your tools for the trade?

I HATE having things around I don’t have a use for. William Morris said ‘Have nothing in your house you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful’, or something like that, and I follow the same philosophy. All my supplies fit in a single Toyo toolbox, and on a daily basis I use Rotring mechanical pencils and technical pens, Schmincke and Daniel Smith watercolours, and Arches or Fabriano paper, depending on which I can get cheaper. And, of course, I use (and LOVE) Makers Cabinet’s Stria ruler and set squares.

What drew you to Makers Cabinet Tools? 

The set squares especially are a game changer for me - I rely a lot on horizontal and vertical lines in my work, which the squares are obviously perfect for. I love Makers Cabinet’s whole philosophy. As people become tired of AI and technology, I think we yearn more and more for the imperfect and handmade - the ‘human’. Obviously I work almost entirely on paper, and Makers Cabinet’s tools complement my process perfectly.

What motivates you to get up and draw? 

I just want to make cool stuff to be honest. Something beautiful. Maybe that’s vain? I don’t know. I just feel like so much of the world is so ugly, I’d rather contribute something beautiful.

What is your current practice and what would you like to do in the future? 

I’d say my work is a kind of modern Arts & Crafts movement. I use traditional art and drafting techniques (and tools) in a contemporary role - in illustration, design, branding etc. - but this all comes back to my desire to just make something beautiful.

For now, I want to make a career out of illustration and design, and I definitely see that being a part of what I do indefinitely. Long term… I used to be a carpenter… I love the idea of opening up some kind of select shop in the future - like entirely consisting of one-off pieces. Think ‘Bode meets Beata Heuman’. I really like the idea that that’s something my girlfriend and I could do together - she’s a really talented and creative person herself.

And, obviously, I’d love to get back to Korea as soon as possible, and play a part in shaping the emerging art and design landscape out there.

What is a piece of work you are most proud of? 

Oh, that’s easy. My girlfriend and I have a Christmas tradition where I make a wooden ornament for the tree each year. You can find them on my feed - so far I’ve made Gromit dressed as a robin (from Wallace and Gromit) and Snoopy on top of his house. Illustration wise? I guess I’m pretty happy with how the work with Makers Cabinet has turned out - they seem like pretty cool guys haha.

Have you ever experienced a moment of heartbreak or loss that found its expression in your work? 

Yeah, actually that’s why I got into design in the first place. But I don’t want to dwell on or give a foothold to the past - what I can say is that my work is much much much better now that I’m happy and feeling loved. If you’re reading this and you’re struggling, definitely find creative outlets, but talk to someone.

Oh, and crying is ok, by the way. I do it all the time.

Tell us about your time in Korea and how it affected your artistic practice.

Korea shaped me as a person. The beginning of my time there was ROUGH, but who I am as a person was profoundly shaped by that, and I found lifelong friends through being there and, ultimately, a place to call ‘home’. Now I’m in a different season - making friends and developing my business in the UK - but there’s little doubt in my mind that Korea is where I’m meant to be.

Have you explored the theme of love or self-love in your work, and if so, how do you approach it? 

Not in my ‘work’ (air quotes) as such, but definitely in my art. I write letters with illustrations sometimes, while my girlfriend and I are long-distance, so drawing Tove Jansson particularly resonated with me (Tove Jansson wrote hundreds of love letters over her lifetime). In fact some of my best work is stuff I’ve only ever shared with one other person, and I love that.

Check out more of Joe's work over on his website josiahgoldsmith.com or his Instagram @thejosiahgoldmith

Cover photo by Illya Sobtchak @actualorigins