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John James

Apr 20/2014
by Janis Galloway photography Tina Chang hair & makeup Nickol Walkemeyer model Kendall Shea (Mode Models)

“I’m a fourscore hell ride shredding a wave of whiskey into a bygone era where the ethical and cultural implications of standing tall atop an Everest of integrity wielding the ragged flag of authenticity wouldn’t give a raging mob cause to bring you to sacrificial slaughter.”


As the saying goes, if you looked up “artist” in the dictionary, John James’ picture would be staring back at you. She’s a natural, doer and creator, and she’d make Don Draper weak in the knees with her impressive professional portfolio of illustration, graphic design and creative direction. Originally from Edmonton, she’s got a sweet nine to five gig these days, working as Art Director at Vancouver advertising agency Noise Digital. James’ focused creativity has sat her at the table with some of the world’s most notable capitalist big boys including Nike, Absolut Vodka, Diesel and Mercedes Benz.

Off the clock and under the virile pseudonym, John James, she designs and constructs custom jewelry of theatric proportions.

“My pieces are meant to evoke the sense of a lover’s weight on your body,” she says. “As they are built to the personality and preference of the wearer, there is often interplay between comfort, discomfort, restriction and liberty.”

The John James jewelry line is substantial, militant and highly editorial with the latest collection composed of mostly heavy, industrial metal necklaces with a sinister vibe. The showstopper of the bunch is a cascading chest piece evocative high fashion armor – a shield to be adorned on a modern style soldier marching towards the trenches of fashion week’s front row.

The designer combines ambitious materials to create her warrior-like accessories – large crystals wrapped in brass rings hang among elaborate chain constructions of mostly reclaimed, pre-loved and natural materials. Think Game of Thrones meets Jean Paul Gaultier.

James could be described as a bit of a tumbleweed. Her art and wanderlust have rolled her through many a city including Calgary, Seattle, San Francisco and now Vancouver. A series of moves, she says, that have impacted her jewelry process from conception to creation.

“Over the last few years, I’ve earned a reputation as a bit of an urban nomad,” she says. “And I think that my approach to conceptualizing pieces stems from the bare bones, spontaneous, necessities-only mentality that is born from moving around. Often, an idea, emotion, or need to sustain a moment in time inspires the physical manifestation of the latter.”

Building a business on such an elaborate, made-to-order product means growth of the John James jewelry line has been slow but steady. Her work is increasingly crossing the sightlines of fashion and art directors, eventually finding its way threaded into visual stories. Her jewelry has been featured in both Flare and Plaid Magazine amongst others.

But like her artist persona, when asked about the future of the jewelry line, James’ answer is swirling in a bit of smoke.

“John James is a small entity… intimate, agile and authentic,” she explains. “I build around people and that will never change. That being said, it would be a great honour and triumph for the brand narrative to move past being solely my own, and see various communities identifying with the story of raw, assertive and confident sexuality and embracing it as their own.”

Twenty-two-year-old model and aspiring actor Derek Chadwick is on the rise. In a millennial dream moment, he was discovered through his growing popularity on Instagram. Charming and unquestionably sexy, the young New Yorker embodies the essence of the perfect 90’s hunk. We spent the day with Derek in L.A. talking about his new career and his thoughts on the industry. G—How did you get started into modelling? DC—I’ve always also been in love with fashion. I started using Instagram as a platform to showcase clothing I really liked and then it sort of just kept growing organically from there. I got spotted via Instagram and I’ve been professional modeling for only a few months. G—What was your first modeling job? DC—Urban Outfitters. They reached out saying they had a campaign I would be perfect for and gave me the freedom to pick the clothing I wanted to wear. G—How would you describe your personal style? DC—90s vintage, I love pastels and faded denim. My personal style is always evolving. 2018 will have lots of different colors and feels. G—What do you do to stay in shape? DC—I do a lot of cardio, mainly sprints because it’s a good strong workout