A teacher and student of the art, James Astle, said he was influenced by his family, friends, and the Los Angeles culture in discovering his passion for art in all of its forms. He said he believes art is how people interact with the world. His wife, Princess Donato, said, “Throw him anything and he’ll make something beautiful about it.”
The value of art
Astle said, “I honestly could not live without art. It gives me purpose and a sense of fulfillment. I am a creator and nothing brings me more peace, joy, purpose, and meaning than being a creator of art. It makes life even better and it gives people a chance to express your life.”
He said he genuinely wishes people would value art more, especially in schools when children are young. If more art was taught at a young age, he said there would be more art produced in the world.
“I wish everyone was more serious about art. Every form of art is an expression of your mind. Art is how you give and take from the world around you,” said Astle.
Making a profession out of passion
Astle said his talents in videography and graphic design have given him the opportunity to travel to several places. Some of these places include Guatemala, London, Costa Rica, Mexico, Tonga, the Philippines and throughout South America.
Donato, a BYUH alumna, said she has gone with Astle on his travels. She said, “James is the type of person who sees art in everything. The other day, we were driving by this big dumpster and he said, ‘I wish I could spend some time in the trash.’
“I was confused because he said he wanted to spend time in the trash and then he was trying to tell me you can create anything anywhere, even in trash.”
Astle said, “I love traveling for companies and making documentaries for them because when you are making a film, you have this idea in your head and then when you edit the piece, other things that you did not expect stick out to you. With videography, you are telling a story and you never know what you are going to run into.”
“I’m actually going to be in Cambodia and the Philippines next month creating a documentary video for the company I’m involved in, Rice-Up,” said Astle.
Rice-Up is a non-profit that Astle is a partner in, which began in 2016. The purpose of Rice-Up is to help farmers in the Philippines better understand entrepreneurship. Astle said he will be making a documentary on the farmers in the Philippines and showing the face of the farmers and what their lives are like.
Astle said he started off doing wedding videography for a couple of years but decided to move away from doing it. “I felt I wasn’t progressing and all of the videos I made were the same. I’m more into telling stories and creating content for companies.
Sarah Hardy, a senior from the Philippines double majoring in business management and hospitality and tourism, and her husband, Elliot Hardy, said they were clients of Astle when he was still creating wedding videos.
Elliot Hardy added, “James is very good at what he does and it is both impressive and inspiring.”
Along with teaching a video marketing class and doing freelance work across all art mediums, Astle said he also has a passion for designing clothing. He currently designs shoes and jeans.
For his shoes, Astle said he designs athletic and casual shoe wear. He began by starting with baby shoes, then he said had the inspiration to make shoes for himself. He began by looking in downtown Los Angeles for fabric and creating a pattern for his own feet. It took about four-to-five pairs of shoes to finally get the construction and designing right.
After figuring this out, Astle said he developed his own method for shoe design and learned how to make them fairly quick. Astle got his own method of designing shoes down within a matter of weeks.
“I have always been inspired by indigenous cultures ever since I was a kid,” he said. “I try and pull from what I feel and see in indigenous art from different cultures to get inspired to create my own style. I have always wanted to feature an indigenous culture’s art form or tradition and then somehow give back to them to provide means of preservation of their culture or art through profits of the shoes sold.”
Astle also designs jeans and uses his passion for heart and clothing design to piece together what he thinks works best and looks best. Astle said, “I would describe the jeans as super comfortable, light weight raw denim with stretch. One of the great things about having raw denim is that the movement of your legs tell their own story over time and the way the jeans move creates distress and fade in ways that are entirely original. The jeans are also designed in the likeness and to be worn like board shorts to maximize comfort. “
Astle said, “Clothing design is always fun. I wish Hawaii had more access to better machines to make it easier for me to design clothes, but either way, it is still possible.”
A part of his life
Astle works in the BYUH Business Department teaching a class twice a week on video marketing and he has been teaching for almost a year.
Along with teaching, Astle does freelance work in videography, graphic design and video marketing for both large and small companies. Astle said he also creates and designs his own shoes in his free time.
Some of the companies he has made videos for include DoTerra, Doritos, Better Business Bureau, Crayola, and several other smaller companies and brands.
Astle said he remembers art always being a part of his life. His grandfather was a sculptor and even now in his late 90s, his grandfather continues to sculpt. Astle said his mother is also artistic and his older brother is an industrial designer.
Astle said his true passion is art and spent his free time in his youth doing art. He said, “My friends and I would create stickers and plaster them in Chinatown in L.A. We would graffiti and paint and create art for fun. In high school, I also took classes at a community college and took fashion and screen printing.”
When Astle arrived at BYUH, he was originally studying business but then decided to switch to graphic design because he said he would rather study something he is passionate about and enjoys.
What do you do in your video marketing class?
Astle said his video marketing class focuses on how individuals can use videos and images in marketing tactics. He said in class, he uses a step-by-step guide that helps people gain the skills to create videos.
“The class is basically a blend of making a video look good but also figuring out how to market the video in a way that will make companies want to hire you. It is not just a videography class and it is not just a marketing class, but rather a hybrid of the two,” said Astle.
Having been in Astle’s video marketing class, Sarah Hardy said, “When you watch James’ videos, you can really tell his passion is reflected in the art he is creating.”
The video marketing course taught by Astle focuses on creating content and involves understanding the emotions of people, he said, and it differs from the digital marketing course offered at BYUH.
What are your ultimate goals?
Astle said, “I want to make my artistic talents go towards a business - maybe a video production firm or a marketing firm. I know I love media and I definitely want to help market in all types of media. I am currently making an animation series for a company so I want to do both graphic design as well as video production.”
He said his ultimate career goal is to always create unique and creative content. He wants to have every project he does have its own creative direction and he said he wants clients to be excited about his work. He wants to show clients his work and his ideas he said rather than having it be the opposite and being told what to do and what to create.
“I want to show people the importance of art whether it be writing, photography, videography, graphics, or whatever you choose to be artistic about,” said Astle.
Writer: Mackenzie Beaver