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  • INJECTION Magazine

Personality and Panache: James Junk and the Power of Design

Meet Filipinx, queer creative Andrei Dominiq (aka James Junk) who seeks to leverage his unparalleled design skills to initiate important conversations that drive social change and break down stigmas.

Submitted by James Junk, Los Angeles

So, picture this: it was 2019, and I was knee-deep in my marketing studies and had grown listless—I hardly cared about crunching numbers and hardly cared to make myself care. I was always wondering if there was something more exciting out there. I knew something needed to change, but I didn’t know what.

One fateful day as I sat there, munching on snacks and lost in the depths of YouTube, serendipity struck. I stumbled upon the closing frame of a vlog by one of my favourite YouTubers, Maddie Bragg. It showcased a whimsical illustration featuring flowers, pasta noodles, strawberries, and palm trees—symbols of her unique lifestyle.

At that moment, something stirred within me. It was as if a dormant spark had been reignited. "I want to create something like that," I said. Something that is creative, inspired, a little off-beat and definitely something with personality and panache. Little did I know that this seemingly simple illustration would become the catalyst for my decision to embark on a creative journey. When it was time to enrol in classes for the following semester, I signed up for Graphic Design 001.

Was it crazy to bid farewell to the quarters I had invested in marketing? Yes. But I told myself: “Wouldn't it be crazier not to go for it? Would it be such hell if you tried something and liked it?”

Initially, finding a sense of connection in the industry proved challenging. Hailing from a family entrenched in the medical field, I had zero connections in the creative realm. In school, competition often overshadowed community, leaving me disenchanted by the politics that permeated the creative landscape. I couldn't understand why we couldn't simply be creative together. "Why compete when we can collaborate?" I wondered. "My creativity doesn't diminish yours, and vice versa. In fact, we can be even more creative together."

Fast forward almost four years, and here I am, still standing. (Well, more like sitting at my desk most of the time, but you catch my drift.) I’ve definitely been through some peaks and valleys in my creative journey, but I’m—and this will sound rather corny—still head over hills when it comes to creating.

I believe that art has the power to initiate conversations and drive change, and my designs serve as visual catalysts for these important dialogues. In my work, I focus on themes of mental health, creative expression, and self-development as a queer person of colour. These topics hold a special place in my heart because growing up, I rarely saw individuals like me openly discussing their experiences in the design industry as a queer Filipino. The lack of representation in graphic design for queer Filipinos became a driving force for me. While I don't feel it's solely my responsibility to fill that void, I can't help but remember my younger self who yearned for someone to look up to. That memory continues to fuel my motivation.

My work, my style—it's all about breaking the rules, doing things my way, and enjoying the fuck out of it. As long as it brings me joy and I'm having a blast, that's all that matters.

I feel so lucky to have a microsphere of creatives around me both IRL and online. I created James Junk as an outlet to post my design makings, and what started as a silly little Instagram account has grown into a soro-fraternity of people I truly consider my friends—people I’ve hung out with, I’ve gone to events with, on trips with, celebrated Pride Weekend with. People who support me and people I support, sans any politics or the exhausting need for maniacal reciprocity. It's a reminder that the power of genuine connections can transform a seemingly ordinary endeavour into an extraordinary journey filled with camaraderie, growth, and endless possibilities.

Find James on Instagram , check out his website and subscribe to his monthly newsletter 'chaos theory.' You can also find his amazing work frequently on Impact Media and their sister platform, Environment.


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