“I do what I enjoy and what I feel”: Joshua Thelwell on his detailed and vibrant 2D artworks

digital, photography and graphic design, Joshua Thelwell is a kind of creative polymath. Especially in his 2D works he recreates people, models or musicians with the utmost accuracy and precision – from FKA Twigs to lesser known ones. “My style of photography and illustration is very similar,” he tells us, “so my favorite reaction is when people can’t tell the difference between the two.”

Originally from Stoke-on-Trent, Joshua moved to Brighton after school, followed by Manchester when he attended university to study graphic design. There he began to play with the medium 2D for the first time. After graduating, he landed a job at JD Sports “pretty much immediately” for about six months, where he worked as a retoucher. He then worked as a photographer for PrettyLittleThing for four years. Recently, Joshua moved to London last year and started working at Jaded London as Head Photographer and Graphic Designer. On the side and in the evenings he worked on his 2D projects.



© Joshua Thelwell

© Joshua Thelwell



© Joshua Thelwell

© Joshua Thelwell



© Joshua Thelwell

In addition to the more experimental digital creations, Joshua works as a fashion photographer – a kind of antithesis to what we see today. Yet they are more closely related than you might think, especially when it comes to the process. “As a fashion photographer, I’m always looking for ideas for photoshoots,” he explains, “and my drawings usually come from a shoot that I have in mind. I would love to work with a lot of artists and models and brands I would love to work with them, so they inspire my work too. Or it could be someone I scroll past on Instagram who has an interesting look.”

Otherwise, Joshua takes inspiration from black women as well: “I was raised by black women and I’ve always found a lot of beauty and versatility in black women.” He also grew up in the ’90s and 2000s area, so the tropes and essence flow Incorporates those two defining creative moments into his work: “that ’90s supermodel vibe of Naomi Campbell.”

© Joshua Thelwell



© Joshua Thelwell

© Joshua Thelwell



© Joshua Thelwell

© Joshua Thelwell



© Joshua Thelwell

When Joshua makes one of his creations, he begins with an intuitive iteration of whatever is on his mind — he draws whatever comes up before “trying to make it beautiful,” he notes. “I’ve been trying to tell more of a story recently, and I’ve made a conscious choice to focus my artwork on black people. Unfortunately, I can’t work with as many color models as I’d like. My art kind of compensates for that for me.”

Joshua’s passion for his craft and ethos as a designer is paramount throughout his portfolio. From the detailed expressions, finer details and attention paid to color palettes and depiction, each piece is vibrant and accurate in the depiction of its subjects. “I try not to think too much about people’s reactions to my work and just do what I enjoy and what I feel,” he concludes. “There’s less pressure that way, and if other people love it too, that’s just a bonus.”

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