Hey Frens, Joe (whatthefurr) here. As the artist behind The Possessed I wanted to give you an idea of who I am and show you some of the things that have inspired me over the years. Tom (the other 50% of The Possessed team) wrote about why we felt it was important to be doxxed in his profile, you can read it here.
Rather than regurgitate my LinkedIn bio I wanted to give you the story behind the things that formed who I am as an illustrator, what led me to building a successful design studio and some details on the origins of The Possessed.
Without getting too pretentious, I believe there are two kinds of inspiration:
Subconscious inspiration - things you’ve naturally absorbed over your life that have left an impression
Conscious inspiration - things you’ve actively searched out for with the goal of being inspired.
Early influences are the subconscious ones - you have little control over them, they just hit you like a runaway train. 🚂 Fresh Prince of Bel-Air 🚂 Super Mario Bros 🚂 Space Jam 🚂 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. These things were seared into my brain as a kid and will always have an imprint on my art.
As you get older you form a clearer understanding of what you like, what feels fun and daring. You’re no longer just hit with content, you start to search it out and actively discover new things. Visual inspirations were always my focus - music had never really done it for me. That was until I found Hiphop, and it was a game changer. I became hooked on the The Black album, College Dropout, Illmatic and Ready to Die.
Music is a different type of inspiration, its energy and attitude can influence everything. Even now, if I need to be ultra productive I’ll engage beast mode by putting on the most intense rap songs I can find. Over time music gave more direct artistic references: Kanye’s Murakami bear, Pharrell’s Billioinaire Boys Club characters and the Gorillaz clan.
At 18 I knew I wanted to pursue something creative with my life and decided to try and get my hands dirty rather than go to university. I managed to nab a junior designer role at a local design studio and after faking-it-to-make for 2 years I got pretty good and was on my way to the big smoke.
If hiphop was a big influence, it was nothing compared to my new home in East London. Working and living in Shoreditch exposed me to a whole new world or people, fashion, art, cuisine and music.
It’s impossible to live in East London and not be influenced by the street art. Beautiful works that spring up over night and disappear by the following morning. A constantly revolving urban gallery. It was food for the creative mind, and it was this time that I really began to focus on my illustrations.
Alongside working as a designer I started a side project called ‘a doodle a day’. The idea was to start drawing and not stop until the page was full. The first ones weren’t amazing, but they got better each time. Eventually I began creating larger pieces and was featured in a couple of galleries in London. The next stage of evolution was to merge my digital design skillset and my illustration to introduce animation to the characters, like this dancing 2 Chainz…
My doodles were always detailed and full of many characters. Always more conceptual than realistic. I enjoyed drawing unusual creatures more than a perfectly formed human. I often personified inanimate objects like Axes and Speakers. For me it was about creating something full of personality and full of detail. I cared just as much about the tiny details of a characters eyeball as I did about how the entire piece looked from a distance. I loved the idea that you could see something new every time you looked at one of my illustrations - and that’s something we’ve tried to do with The Possessed too.
Fast forward a few years to where I met Tom. In a dark basement office in London Bridge whilst we started-up our own businesses. We became mates. We shared beers. He beat me at tennis. And squash. And table tennis… come to think of it I’m not sure why I still hang out with him. In my defence it’s hard to beat a 6’6” wing span!
Anyway… whilst he was building Hubble, I founded Point.Studio with my partner Anneka (who deserves much more than this fleeting mention). Point is a brand and digital design studio working with some of the worlds most exciting startups and scale-ups. We work with companies across Europe, North America and Asia who are doing things differently and are striving to have a positive impact on the world.
We’ve worked with businesses who are doing remarkable things: from building the A.I. infrastructure for the world, and giving individuals control of their health, to a sustainable cycle brand and even a new, natural alternative to cremation and burial (the latter being a very fun and unusual design challenge!).
Over the last few years we worked with some amazing people, grew a team, went remote, evolved our design practice and had a ball creating brands and digital experiences that have helped our clients grow to become multi-million dollar businesses.
Working with startups, accelerators and VCs keeps you on your toes. You’re always at the forefront of new technologies and that’s where my interest in crypto began. Bitcoin first hit my radar back when Tom and I were in that basement in London Bridge, but it wasn’t until a few years later that I really took notice. Bitcoin introduced me to crypto, and in 2021 ETH introduced me to NFTs.
Tom and I had always wanted to do a collab, but it wasn’t until we’d fallen for the NFT space that it felt like we had the perfect combination of right time, right skill set, right medium. After a few weeks of sharing concepts we had something we loved. A new kind of pfp collection - animated, generative and driven by a unique concept. I shared my first character prototype with Tom on 01.01.2022… and The Possessed was born.
We’re looking forward to sharing more about our plans for The Possessed as a brand and the long term future vision of the project. Be sure to follow the journey on Twitter with @tmw_builds, @whatthefurr and @ThePossessedNFT to hear about it first.