Words by – Isami Kiyooka
Jesse Robinson Williams (JRW) is a local artist/designer from North Vancouver, BC. If you’ve ever walked into a snowboard shop in the past couple of years, chances are you’ve come across one of JRW’s graphics. Having done work with Nitro Snowboards, DC Snowboards, L1 Premium goods, Dinosaurs will die, Salmon Arms, and even in our own SBC mags just to name a few. It’s hard to come across a new season’s binding, board, mitt or piece of outerwear that isn’t designed by him. He’s personally one of my favourite creatives in the industry right now; he and his work has definitely been inspiring me for a long time.
Starting out this interview, How long have you been designing professionally for?
JRW – 12 years!
Starting out as an artist, what was your first big “client” that you did work for, and how did that go?
JRW – I guess my first big break was when Jeff Keenan from Dinosaurs Will Die asked me to do a graphic for the KWON board back in 2012. I think that was my first real opportunity to break into the industry and gave me a jump off point to start sharing my illustration and design style with a larger audience. Thankfully that first graphic was well received and I’ve been lucky to work with Jeff on his board graphic every year since.
Ten Years of JRW x DWD
So far, what has been your favourite project to work on and why?
JRW – It’s difficult to pick one project as a favourite. I’ve been really lucky to collaborate on some really amazing projects alongside some very talented athletes and fellow designers over the years. It’s always a trip to see athletes that I look up too, riding my artwork in all the corners of the globe.
What age were you, and what was the moment you realized you wanted to pursue this path?
JRW – When I was in my teens and early 20’s I worked in a few snowboard shops in North Van and rode at Mt.Seymour all the time. I was really drawn to the snowboard culture and knew from a pretty young age that the scene was really something special that I wanted to be a part of. I’ve always been into art, I think it just took a few years for the two to blend together and for me to see that there was a path to follow.
You’ve got such a cool graphic on your website with the Rabbit and arrows, care to explain the backstory/meaning of it?
JRW – Thanks! That little graphic was something that didn’t make the cut for a client so I just kept it for myself. The art is open for interpretation but for me it symbolizes moving forward and dodging any negativity along the way. I try my best to keep projects fun and as stress free as possible, I feel that’s when the best work is done.
Now you’re working with Nitro and L1, how long is your history with the companies, and how has that been?
JRW – I’ve been working with Nitro and L1 Full Time for 7 years now. Nitro has so much history within our sport, Honestly when I got the job with them that’s when I felt like… “ Ok, my design dream is coming true”. It’s been amazing working with the whole international design and marketing crew. The core of the company is built of a super tight group of very talented people with a pretty flat hierarchy, which really allows us to act quickly and implement new ideas with a super fast turn around. I’m honoured to be a part of the crew.
2022 Nitro Optimism – Designed by JRW
Best piece of advice that’s helped you throughout your career?
JRW – Don’t get too hung up on criticism, you can’t please all of the people all of the time.Try not to take things too seriously, have fun with it.
And bouncing off the last question, what would be a piece of advice you would wanna give to people trying to do what you do?
JRW – Find a lane that feels like a good fit for your specific design style and just keep working at it. These days with social media it’s easier than ever to showcase your work. Don’t be afraid to reach out and share your work with brands that you would like to work with one day, you never know who will hit you back.
What’s next for JRW?
JRW – Well my wife and I just had our first kid 4 months ago, so we are both keeping busy with the little dude. I’m already looking forward to next winter when we will get him out on snow for the first time
Jen and Oscar. Andi, Tommy, Florian, Dominik, Basti, Knut, Paul, Rene, Jon, Ryan and the whole Nitro crew. Jeff and Sean at DWD, Nic at SalmonArms, Mike at Cariboo, and everyone who I have had the pleasure of working with over the past decade. Cheers to the future.
Just some of Jesse’s work :
JRW X Salmon Arms – “Spawn Overmitt”
JRW X Salmon Arms – “Heneghan Mitt”
JRW X Nitro – 2022 “Team Pro OG” Binding
JRW X Nitro – 2022 “Mercy” Snowboard
JRW X SBC – Issue 29.2, “What you sayin with Joel Loverin” artwork
JRW X SBC – Issue 29.1, “Masterclass with Brad Heppner” artwork