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Meet The Artist: Richie Prior - The Oceanaut

by Paul Atkins August 28, 2022 7 min read

Welcome to the first instalment of our new 'Meet the Artist' journal series.  As creatives, we are constantly inspired by other designers and artists we work with, and find it a great insight to delve deeper into the passion and inspiration behind the key pieces designers create for JRH. 

In this 'Meet the Artist' edition we caught up with our great friend Richie Prior AKA The Oceanaut who created our best selling Follow The Sun design this summer.

We actually first met Richie online via Instagram as he was one of the original true supporters of the JRH brand, and he showed
 nothing but encouragement and love towards our small but mighty independent business.  

Since that time we've had many amazing conversations and beers with Richie and 
his beautiful partner Charlotte, who are both amazing humans.  They have both been paramount in keeping us positive even when we have had moments of low, they have given us clarity, and we're honoured to call them friends.  Meeting them has given us proof that you can find the best people when you least expect it.

Here we found out a little bit about the man behind the design and what makes him tick.

Go on, tell us a little bit about yourself, don't hold back!?

Wow, where to start? Whenever I meet someone and am getting to know them, I always want to know the juicy stuff, as I’m not a fan of small talk, so I always want to know what makes people tick and what their passions are. For me, that one defining passion has always been travel. Everything else I do really stems from that. I live in Kent at the moment and have a variety of day jobs which allow me to spend time doing the things I love, basically. Photography and art are another two of my great loves, and kind of go hand in hand, as they're very aesthetically focussed. It'd be an understatement to say that I'm kind of in love with nature and our planet, and the natural world serves as a great source of comfort and inspiration for me. I'm particularly a huge lover of the ocean and all things marine-life, having spent time diving some of the best dive sites in the world. Scuba diving really broadened my world perspective and made me think more deeply about the way I live, so it's something I return to whenever I can. There's lots more of course, but I think it's good to start with passions and loves when telling someone about yourself! We so often start with name, age, occupation, and that's a little boring isn't it?

What kind of interests and hobbies do you have, and do any of them influence your creative side?

I definitely think my core interest/ hobby/ passion is travel. Everything else comes from that core place of just loving the experience of travelling. So many of my hobbies have been inspired by my travels, like my photography and art. My main approach to exploring is just being open to everything: new experiences, people, places. Part of being open is being quiet and listening. And I definitely think travel influences my photography and art. When you explore a new place, you're seeing things like a child would: for the first time. It's a powerful self-development tool and really opens your eyes and influences how you see things. In terms of how travel has specifically influenced my creative side: travel has made me care about the planet so much, which in turn has influenced the kinds of media I create and produce. I care about being eco-conscious, sustainable and creating something which is thought provoking, or raises awareness about the environment crises'.

Where do you get your creative inspiration from?

Everywhere, really! Just in the world around me. Nature is one of my biggest inspirations, and I've found it really provides infinite inspiration. You'll think you know birds for example, and then you'll see one behave in a way you've never seen before and it becomes inspiring all over again. Because I take thousands of photos of things that inspire me, I always have photographs that remind me of a certain time and place, and these provide me with inspiration for many things: perhaps some artwork I want to create, or a way to say something important through storytelling. 

What was the inspiration behind the design you created for JRH and tell us a little bit about the process behind it?

Well, I'm constantly inspired by you guys at JRH and the way you've chosen to live. You had a dream, which you've put your all into. For me the 'Follow the sun' design is all about following that thing that lights up your world, going after that dream and seeing where it takes you, which is a concept that really sums up you guys to me. You're following that thing that makes you feel good, that lights up your world. I was also really inspired by the kinds of plants and vegetation that grow in Spain where you're currently based. I have close family that live in Spain and they've been cultivating lots of Cacti and other plants that thrive in humid environments, so I thought it tied in really well with the concept I was going for. 

How do you feel your ethos and values line up with JRH, and name one small change we could all implement into our lives to make a positive impact in this world?

I definitely feel in alignment with the ethos and values at JRH - I very rarely buy clothing new from a shop, with your clothing and products being the exception. I like to know where my clothing comes from and it's really important to me that I don't support fast fashion. That's the reason I love your products, because I know you only make a limited number of items and use ethical and sustainable printing methods and fabrics. Actually taking that action is so important for our planet, as our natural resources are finite. I feel like you really embody your values in everything that you do, and that's something I try to do in my life too. I guess in terms of one small change people could implement into our lives to make a positive impact into the world... I'd simply say, be kind. I know that has become kind of a cliche in many ways, with the rise of social media and trolling, you see 'Be Kind' printed on every other t-shirt. But I honestly think it's the easiest thing we can do - firstly, being kind is totally within each person's own control, so it's totally doable. Secondly, it costs nothing. You could be earning all the money in the world, or none, and be able to be a kind person. And kindness isn't just about smiling and being nice, but it's about how you treat other people, animals and the environment. Kindness is about doing the right thing, even when no-one is watching. I love how you guys at JRH have made kindness one of your central ways of doing things. Even in your infancy as a small business, you were shouting out and promoting other businesses, trying to uplift others by showing kindness. It's the one thing that everyone can do for free, that would make the biggest difference to the world - imagine if everyone made the effort to always be kind? 

We love to travel and explore new places here at JRH, what has been your favourite place to visit and why?

Wow, this is a tough one to answer. I'll start by saying although I'd consider myself well-travelled, that's also a really subjective term! My travel wish list is about a thousand lines long, so there are still so many places I'd love to go to. My absolute favourite place so far would have to be Broome in north Western Australia. It's this little town right on the edge of the Kimberley region, a sub-tropical area known for its untouched nature. Broome is both the gateway to this incredible region, as well as being a town of great significance itself. Broome is filled with awesomeness - from Matso's Brewery with their amazing fiery ginger beer; to a star-gazing group that meets just outside the town's borders to stare up in awe at the Milky Way - everything about this town just oozes cool. It's home to Cable Beach, a 22km white sand beach, cornered at one end by Gantheaume Point. And this is where we get to the crux of my favourite place in the world. Gantheaume Point is officially a promontory rock, but to describe it as such would be a grave injustice. It's this towering deep ochre cliff that stands proudly above the beach and cuts down into the ocean. The deep red of the rock is just incredible in comparison to the real azure blue water and white sand of Cable Beach. I used to come here every evening after work when I lived in Broome, and I'd bring a picnic and some beers. Every night I'd eat a meal while perched in a special hidden ledge facing the ocean and watch Humpback Whales breaching and playing, while the sunset. I hope that helps a little to explain why this is my favourite place, but I could talk about Broome - and the Kimberley for that matter - endlessly. What I've said doesn't even scratch the surface. I always call that place my soul home. 

Anything exciting lined up? We're thinking future projects and plans!

Always! Later this year I'm actually headed off on a month-long trip back to Southeast Asia, where I've spent a lot of time previously. I'll be returning to some favourite places in Thailand, while also exploring places in the region that I've never been to before, namely: Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia. A month isn't a very long time when thinking about exploring a whole region, so I'll just be visiting a few key places this time around. Culturally, SE Asia is such an intriguing and appealing place. The food, sounds, smells, climate and everything else are kind of overwhelming to the senses, which I kind of love. In terms of creative plans, I am working on a few things at the moment, all motivated by that calling to long-term travel, so whatever I end up doing, it will be with remote work in mind.

Thanks so much for having me guys - it's been great chatting and as always, I can't wait to see what's next for JRH!

We look forward to working a lot more closely with both Richie and Charlotte in the coming months here at JRH - in fact we have a super cool new design from Richie arriving very soon, and a guest journal entry from Charlotte too.

For now you can shop the 'Follow the Sun' collection here.

Definitely check out Richie's 'TheOceanaut' Instagram page, and his Etsy shop too.

The awesome photos in the journal entry were also shot by Richie Prior.

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