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The Travelling Canvas – Joshua Harris

For May’s tote bag, we turned to the world of type with  letterer & graphic designer, Joshua Harris AKA The A Board Dude. His design aims to send out a message of positivity to everyone who catches a glimpse of the tote bags on their travels.

For those who don’t know you, please can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I first coined my alias The A Board Dude back in late 2012 while working for The Breakfast Club – a small chain of cosy cafes based in London. Their a-boards or more commonly known “pavement boards” needed some serious TLC at the time so I offered to draw up some corny quips for the queueing foodies to enjoy. Soon enough I was decorating each a-board in five locations all around the city and it attracted plenty of attention from tourists and type enthusiasts alike.

 

Fast forward six years and I can proudly say I’ve worked for the likes of Instagram, Google, Lululemon, Dollar Shave Club and many other independent businesses dotted around the capital. When I’m not meandering the busy streets of London, I create bespoke lettering pieces (some of which I give away for free) and sell mostly pocket-sized goods on my store.

Joshua Harris

What was the inspiration behind your design for The Travelling Canvas?

Everything you do begins with a decision. A decision to act or not – to embrace the unknown and your personal fears and trepidations. I’ve experienced and still continue to experience this almost every day, walking along the edge of my comfort zone daring to try or think something new and challenging that may hurt initially but will ultimately compound my strength and determination in life.

 

Telling yourself you can do something is the first and hardest step. You can at the very least, try. If you try and fail you do it again or undertake something else. Each time learning something new about yourself or those around you, making yourself stronger. Clearing your mind of negativity, doubt and concerns about how others perceive you is imperative, for me. Embrace the world and all its ups and downs and clear your mind of can’t.

Joshua Harris, Lettering, type, typography

We think tote bags are awesome, but why do you love totes?

What’s not to love? Utility, aesthetics and portability all play keys roles in ensuring the popularity of tote bags. For most, they’re reusable shopping bags, for others they’re part of their personal or business identity depending on the message they contain. For myself, it’s a bit of both.

Do you have any tips for anyone to keep in mind when designing their own tote bag design?

I think it’s wise, in almost any circumstance, to really understand the message of your work. Are you doing what is good or what is expedient? People often buy what they want and not what they need – coffee is a great example of this – so, does the message resonate with the customer and if not, what can you do it improve it?

 

I chose the phrase “Clear your mind of can’t” because it’s my intention to, even for just a fleeting moment, instil a sense of encouragement or positivity in the person seeing or potentially wearing my design. We’re creatures of habit and reinforcing good messages every day is essential in progressing our lives and those around us.

What is your favourite tote bag you’ve ever owned?

I bought a great tote from L’Usine while visiting Ho Chi Minh two winters ago – it had a faux-leather strap, was made of thick green-grey canvas, had a convenient zip pocket on the inside and nice screen-printed logo on the front. I think I like it more as a reminder of my holiday than for its design, as good as it is.

If you could send your tote bag to anyone in the world who would it be and why?

I can’t specify one person, really but if I had to choose I’d suggest my good friend Atticus who has just embarked on his new journey of fatherhood. He may need some extra storage for those regular visits to the baby aisles. On the other hand, I’d simply love for this tote to reach anyone who really resonates with the message and needs it in their life – knowing that I can encourage just one individual anywhere in the world to deflate negative feelings and seek to improve their well-being is all the reward I need.

What is in your bag right now?

My laptop charger. Sensodyne toothpaste. My gym locker padlock and mini towel. Chalkboard pens and a book called RETHINK Social Media. Quite a motley of crap, yeah?

Find out more information on The Travelling Canvas project here. 

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