Tell us a little about yourself and what you do.
I’m Jeffrey Bowman, an illustrator, designer, photographer and huge outdoor enthusiast! I’ve also edited a book called The Outsiders: New Outdoor Creativity. At the moment I’m based in Marsden at the top of the Peak District having returned from 15 months in the Norwegian mountains. I love to climb, hike, camp, bike and snowboard.
Can you tell us what The Outsiders is about and what the ‘outsiders ethos’ means to you?
The book is a cross-section of contemporary outdoor culture today. There has been a huge influx over the last 5 years of brands, designers, photographers and creatives who are inspiring a younger generation to get outdoors. The Outsiders showcases these people and invites the audience to go out and experience nature and adventure in whatever way they can, which is what I think underpins the outsider ethos really – get out there, back into nature.
As an editor, pulling together all the stories, brands and people must have been great. Tell us about the process.
It was a really great process of discovery, I was aware of a lot of the people already, but as the research went on I discovered so much more. The culture is richer and deeper than the ‘hipster’ stigma it gets. There is such a diverse mixture of people featured in the book, from normal people undertaking epic adventures to established brands like Patagonia, it was interesting finding a balance. As the content and research evolved there was a natural kind of selection and categorisation within the book that lead to the structure and chaptering. The hardest part was not having enough pages to show each and every project, brand and adventure out there, but that is part of the editorial process I guess.
There’s so much great content in the book. What’s your favourite thing in there?
It has to be all the photography. The products and the people tell their story in an engaging way, but when I flick through the book, I stop, and imagine myself in some of the situations you see captured by the photographers like David Boyson Cooper, Anki Grothe and Killian Schonberger. The photography takes you somewhere else.
The book is all about the link between outdoor living and creativity. What does outdoors creativity mean to you?
It’s the opportunity to experience a new way of life, a chance to disconnect from the urbanised life that we live and take fresh inspiration away from the screen, phones and emails that dominate our lives. It allows us to reconnect to a much simpler lifestyle and then use that positively.
Why do you think that creativity is thriving in the outdoors industry?
Personally I think it’s giving creatives a platform to express themselves in different ways. It feels like a lot of people are on their own adventure in the industry, exploring and expressing themselves through the outdoors. There is freedom and ownership that is visible in the output and a real sense of craft in the brands, designs, illustrations and adventures people are having.
Historically, an affinity with outdoors living and nature has gone hand in hand with a more creative outlook. Who are your outdoor creative heroes and why?
I think my grandad is the biggest inspiration for my pursuit of an outdoor lifestyle and creativity. He dedicated his life to hiking and documented this through some of his photography. When I was younger I never saw the value in being dragged on hikes, it wasn’t until much later that what he did made sense to me. Modern day heroes I would say are people like Geoff McFetridge, whose work is alive with the outdoors – he is also in the book and has some wonderful insights into creativity and nature.
I’m also hugely inspired by Andrew Groves and his woodcarving workshops. Andrew is an illustrator but with a passion for woodcarving. He runs workshops in West Sussex where he’s teaching people a real craft that connects right back to nature in its purest form. I think what he’s doing is showing that nature and the outdoors has a real place in contemporary creative culture.
What are your favourite sources of outdoor inspiration and why?
I hate to say it but Instagram. It has opened up a whole world of outdoor inspiration to a lot of people. You can follow other people’s adventures, trips, hikes, challenges and feel connected to their view through a simple square image. But in all honesty the most inspiring source is being out in the mountains itself, nothing can take away the humbling experience that it provides each and every time.
We find the book incredibly inspiring. What do you think people can take away from the book and it’s refreshing take on outdoor living and experience?
That it isn’t that hard to get outdoors and be part of this amazing movement. An adventure is what you make of it and the outdoors is there for everybody, no matter how you would like to experience it.
The Outsiders is available to buy from Lifedge. Pick up your copy here.
To learn more about Jeffrey and his work check out his website.