Fresh Ideas | Free Thinking #12

In this edition of Fresh Ideas Free Thinking, we caught up with our very own Jack Atkins to find out what he is reading, who is inspiring him and how an earthworm ended up in his beard...
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08.07.17
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What do you do?

I am a freelance journalist, copywriter, social media buffoon; Jack of all trades, master of none. My parents were very apt when they named me.

Where do you do it? 

I currently work in Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle, but I have spent the past couple of years in Toronto where I ate my bodyweight in poutine on a regular basis.

Who do you do it for?

Various! My premier obligations are to Ethos magazine and Wordscapes, but being freelance I mainly work for me.

What has been your favourite project of the past year that you’ve been involved in?

My first piece for Ethos about B-Corporations for issue two was a lot of fun. The best part was when I went back to Toronto to gather photographs for the article, without permission, and spent a lot of time running up and down stairwells pretending that I was Serpico.

Also a few months ago I ended up with an earthworm in my beard for a promotional video for a co-working space in Birkenhead. The things you do to help friends eh, still need to get that favour repaid…

What is the most innovative, ethically-minded business that you’d love to collaborate with?

I’m a sucker for clothing and sneakers in particular (pardon the American vernacular, but I ‘sneak’ a lot more than I ‘train’) so would love to do something with Patagonia, or further explore the work Adidas have done with Parley for the Oceans.

What ethical business leaders inspire you?

No-one person in particular, more that I’m a big proponent for the little guy. Not in a ‘stick-it-to-the-man’ kind of way, rather I love seeing people take chances with ideas that benefit communities and that help propagate ideas over profits. It’s very inspiring to see something grow from the grass-roots up.

What are the five most interesting things that you have come across or read recently?

Well did you know that bungee jumping was invented in Bristol? Shocked me that one. Everything I do for Ethos is an eye-opener, as my past writing was in my ‘comfort zone’ and involved a lot of pining for the glory days of Japanese street-wear and asking Mike Patton what he thought of the Super Mario Brothers movie.

The minutiae of life and irreverent stuff is what interests me, so if I’m not anally trawling for indoor gardening tips, I’m lost in a cyclone of articles covering everything from the last confirmed kill in War with a bow and arrow (‘Mad’ Jack Churchill) to reasons why Marco van Basten is pound-for-pound the best striker of his generation (look at his games to goals ratio – breathtaking)

Tragically I think this is because my attention span has decreased dramatically with the advent of modern technological conveniences. I am so obsessed with Twitter and breaking news that I may only give certain subjects a paragraph or two before I decide whether to continue or not. I really need to break my bad habits and start again fresh.

What’s the book, books or author that most shaped your thinking for the work that you do?

As a teenager it was Hunter Thompson, I loved the lens through which he saw and portrayed counter-culture and I was enthralled by the legend and the mystique that surrounded him, mainly thanks to a friend who was obsessed with Fear and Loving in Las Vegas and in her more inspired times believed she was him. My love of writing in general came out of a combo of wanting to express myself and to try and write short films and sketches to make with friends (the same friends who put worms in my beard).

More-so though, I’m a bit of a stand-up comedy nerd. I love the fine-tuning and honing that comes with the territory of the true greats; George Carlin, Lenny Bruce etc., but Richard Pryor is the one above all for me. Pryor’s honesty and the tragedy that underpinned his life and upbringing was very raw and made him Hollywood’s answer to the classic tragic clown, hidden behind a facade of self-destruction and crudeness. Stewart Lee is another amazing stand-up. I like getting a feel for a writer or a performer’s personality, and my love of comedy has shaped how I approach writing and reading alike.