News & Stories

Activism through art

Josh Pringle uses his creative skills to advocate for the Tasmanian wilderness.

Courtesy of @joshpringle.
Tasmanians know Josh Pringle’s work well, even if they don’t know his name. His "Keep Tassie Wild" artwork can be seen on car bumpers, jackets, t-shirts and walls around Hobart and beyond, and his distinctive style is in demand.

Josh, who graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from UTAS 2015, was always headed for a career in illustration. “I drew constantly as a child. I have creative parents and they always encouraged me to be creative, too."

Bachelor of Fine Arts from UTAS

A DIY dynamo

“My dad is a blacksmith, so I grew up around people who make a living from making their own stuff.” In fact, Josh was selling his drawings as a ten year old. 

“I used to go down to Rektango [the popular live music event outside Salamanca Arts Centre on Fridays] to sell my comics for ten cents. As a teenager I got in to punk and the DIY aesthetic, Robert Crumb and MAD Magazine,” Josh recalls, citing several clear influences on his style.

Punk was really formative for me. It made me feel like I could do anything, that I didn’t need anyone’s help

He says it’s why he started a gallery in his parents’ garage when I was 16. “I didn’t want to make money from it; I just wanted somewhere to hang out with my mates! But from the money we did make, we gave about $800 to charity.”
Courtesy of @joshpringle.

Finding the balance

Josh said he enjoyed his time at the University of Tasmania's School of Creative Arts in Hunter Street, where he majored in Sculpture, but acknowledges that some students find it challenging.

“You’ve got to approach it in the right way.

“For me that meant a couple of gap years. I had a year off after college, and so I had a real thirst for knowledge when I started uni. The teachers pushed me in all kinds of directions, which was great for me, even though I had a pretty strong idea of where I wanted to go. I had another gap year during my studies and so I was thirsty again when I returned for my final year.”

Since graduating, Josh has pursued work as a freelance illustrator and as a gardener. 

“Having a second job is massively important to me. I don’t see it as a failure. It gets me out of the studio. I love gardening.”

Making a difference

Josh’s "Keep Tassie Wild" designs came about through his passion for bushwalking and nature.

I realised I wasn’t doing anything to save the environment. I didn’t volunteer, I didn’t donate money. I knew my work appealed to young people so I thought, I’ll make a poster.

His first image was a picture of a tent. “Then, a couple of years ago, I drew the waratah and it took off. The intention was to raise awareness and raise money.”

Since 2016, Josh has raised thousands of dollars for environmental charities through the sale of "Keep Tassie Wild" merchandise, which includes stickers, patches, pins, t-shirts and hoodies. The brand has led to commissions from the Wilderness Society and Tasmanian Land Conservancy, as well as tourism companies, which he encourages to donate to environmental causes.

Courtesy of @joshpringle.

The freelance life

Josh says Instagram has been key to his profile as an illustrator. “I use it to look up other artists, and it’s how artists and clients find me, too. I used to keep a blog. Instagram is much easier!”

But success brings its own challenges. “Learning to say no is really important – particularly when a job doesn’t pay appropriately. [But] I also like to help out friends in bands and charities I believe in. All those things contribute to burnout, and so right now I’m not taking on any new commissions.”

Instead, he’s dreaming up new ideas of his own as he sweats it out in the garden.

Going to art school can take you in unexpected directions. Find out more about the Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of Tasmania.