About — Jake Hopking

Embracing the Intersection of Art, Technology, and Social Change: A Story of Transformation

Welcome to my world, where passion intersects with creativity and the drive for social change. I'm a seasoned explorer of diverse landscapes — from the wild terrains of the world's most stunning mountains to the intricate pathways of web design and development, from the rich aroma of freshly roasted coffee beans to the transformative power of art and education. 

My journey has taken me across continents, through cultures, and deep into the heart of human potential. Here, at the crossroads of art and technology, I've found a purpose that fuels both my personal and professional life. Join me as I continue this remarkable adventure, using the tools of design, photography, and digital innovation to champion sustainability, support creative causes, and build a purpose-driven community. Together, we can make a real difference. Welcome to the journey.

A maneki-neko, or beckoning cat, at Gotokuji Temple — famouse for having thousands of these ceramic figurines adorning the grounds — Setagaya, Tokyo, Japan

My personal jouney

My story, much like everyone else's, is an ever-unfolding journey. The following provides a glimpse into my identity, the driving forces behind Elkli & Hart, and some of my core beliefs. The accompanying photographs capture the diverse moments and locations that have shaped and influenced my personal narrative.

35mm film photograph of a padlock on a wooden door — Dorset, United Kingdom

My journey began with a spark of curiosity ignited by my first SLR camera, a Nikon FM, at the young age of 12. The camera was a window to the enchanting world around me, transforming how I perceived reality.

I was fascinated with the diversity of the natural world, often finding myself lost in the mesmerising documentaries by Sir David Attenborough on the BBC — I meticulously recorded and categorised hundreds of episodes on VHS tapes.

35mm film photograph of a horse biting its leg — Stanpit March, Christchurch, Dorset, United Kingdom
35mm film photograph Sydney Opera House, with clouds above and starburst sun peeping through one of the building's arcs — Sydney, Australia

Parallel to my burgeoning interest in photography, my affinity for coffee began to percolate. At 15, I started roasting my own coffee beans in a popcorn maker, a rather unconventional but effective method. This interest was so strong that I carried a stovetop espresso machine during family holidays to Australia and New Zealand. Today, the popcorn maker has been replaced by a gourmet coffee roasting machine nestled in my shed, a testament to my enduring love for coffee.

Today, the popcorn maker has been replaced by a gourmet coffee roasting machine nestled in my shed

The vibrant thread of creativity runs deep in my family, shaping my perception of the world. My mother, a trained medical Herbalist and Waldorf sculpture teacher, exposed me to the raw beauty of artistic expression and the power of nature from an early age. My uncle, a revered ceramic artist and teacher, introduced me to the transformative power and elegant beauty of clay. My wife, who journeyed from stop-motion animation to textile design, showed me the fluidity of creativity. And my brother, a creative game engine designer, emphasised the beauty of merging creativity with technology. 

My academic path, a mosaic of varied disciplines, began with studying electronics and photography during Sixth Form. I later ventured into media and multimedia at University. After graduation, I embarked on a career as a web designer and developer at a creative agency. Here, I had the privilege of working with clients mainly from the science, education, and charitable fields.

A farmer walking along a path carrying tools and wood — Nampundwe, Zambia

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Simultaneously, my zest for adventure and exploration remained undiminished. Mountain biking became a favoured pastime, with the rugged trails of New Zealand, Europe, and the UK offering exhilarating challenges.

This passion for exploration extended beyond physical landscapes, leading me to Zambia. During my time there, I was deeply moved by the community's resilience and strength, inspiring me to fund the construction of a new school.

A class of young children during a lesson in a rural school — near Nampundwe, Zambia
A close-up of a crocodile's snout and teeth, as he hovers his head above the water on the bank of a river — Chobe National Park, Botwsana
A pile of carved stone prayer slates, which has been formed into a wall over time — Annapurna Circuit, Himalaya, Nepal

The vibrant cultures of various countries have left indelible imprints on my personal and professional life. I spent months traversing the mesmerising landscapes of India and realised a personal dream of trekking in the Himalayas, on a month-long tour of the Annapurna Circuit.

In my early 30s, my journey took me to New Zealand, where I co-founded a digital agency, Digital Sausages Limited, and worked with many well-known NZ brands. This period was a turning point in my appreciation of landscape photography, as the breathtaking landscapes of New Zealand offered endless inspiration.

A close-up of a Buddha's head, covered in a colour strokes of paint — Kathmandu, Nepal
A landscape scene of the Southern Alps and Mount Aoraki, Mt Cook. In the foreground is an array of wildflowers — South Island, New Zealand
An autumn scene of Mount Fuji framed by red leaves illuminated by the setting sun. Fuji seemingly rises up out of Lake Kawaguchi — Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan
A female horseback archer rides in Yoyogi Park as part of a archery festival — Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan

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A yearning for a fresh cultural experience then led me to Japan, where I balanced managing my NZ business remotely with full-time Japanese language school schedules. The rich culture, unique art, and the beautiful simplicity of Japanese design aesthetics deeply moved me. It was in the bustling streets of Shinjuku, Tokyo, that I met my future wife. We tied the knot in Hiroshima, her hometown, and soon moved back to London.

A night time shot of a busy road in Nishi-Shinjuku, with the bright neon illuminated lights and signs leading the eye into the cityscape beyond — Nishi-Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan

Back in the UK, I launched a digital consultancy, working with global brands such as Vodafone, Polestar, Nestlé, and Sky. Despite the success, I felt a void — something was missing. I embarked on a quest for fulfilment, which led me to various books and educational resources. I discovered the transformative insights of authors like Steven Kotler, whose 'The Art of Impossible' provided a blueprint for achieving my maximum potential. The Japanese philosophy of Ikigai shed light on the harmony of passion, mission, vocation, and profession, while Sir Ken Robinson's 'The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything' validated the profound power of art within personal and educational contexts.

The docklands cityscape taken from the Sky Garden — London, United Kingdom
A microfoam latte art fern on a flat white coffee, in a pink coloured ceramic mug with very shallow depth of field, making the wooden table below a silky blur — Tunbridge Wells, Kent, United Kingdom

This exploration fundamentally reshaped my understanding of 'intelligence.' I had mistakenly believed that intelligence was strongly tied to academia and the STEM disciplines, relegating artistic or creative intelligence to the sidelines. However, the combination of Kotler's scientific context, Robinson's emphasis on the towering importance of artistic intelligence, and the clarity of Ikigai, led to an epiphany.

This exploration fundamentally reshaped my understanding of 'intelligence.'

I realised that my 'element' was to build a business utilising my skills in design, software development, and photography. This venture provides a platform to generate sustainable income, which empowers me to dedicate more resources to my core mission: illuminating the transformative power of art, education, social responsibility, and technological innovation. The prosperity of the business is intrinsically tied to this mission, thus every print sold is a stepping stone towards achieving these broader goals.

My ultimate mission is to revolutionise our modern educational system, a system still tethered to an old-world industrialisation model. I, along with many pioneering educators, believe that every child possesses a unique gamut of creative and traditional STEM-based intelligence. We need a balanced and interconnected teaching framework to nurture these skills, producing individuals capable of tackling the challenges of our modern society. I highly recommend watching the late Sir Ken Robinsons’ TED lecture: Do schools kill creativity? — it’s full of passion and articulates all I’m trying to say in a clear and compelling way.

The journey towards initiating this change is in its infancy and I wholeheartedly extend an invitation for everyone to partake in this dialogue. Our stance is rooted firmly in the solidity of science, evidence-based research, and consistent data, as this forms the bedrock of our credibility and integrity. The message we send forth must not be mere conjecture or opinion; it must be underpinned and anchored in verifiable, quantifiable truth.

Two cornerstones of my personal philosophy are personal growth and self-education. I believe in measuring one's own growth, often reflecting back on who I was one, two, and five years ago. If I feel too comfortable with the person I was in the past, it's a signal that I'm not growing enough, not acquiring new skills nor developing my mind effectively.

I'm an ardent advocate of not comparing oneself to others. We are all unique, with our own strengths and weaknesses, and it's crucial to chart our own path rather than emulate someone else's. The line between being inspired and comparing oneself to others is thin, but I believe it's worth making the conscious effort to distinguish between them.

A woman walks alone in a modern outdoor shopping area, which is bathed in the intense natural light making the scene feel white-washed — Miami, Florida, USA

My journey is an ongoing one, filled with continuous growth, self-education, and, above all, a commitment to affect meaningful change. Thank you for joining me on this journey. Together, let's make a difference.

— Jake Hopking

Jake Hopking standing on a clifftop looking out of the Tasman Sea in New Zealand

My Guiding Principles

Just as our company's core values are diverse and continuously evolving, so too are my personal guiding principles. While they encompass a broad range of tenets, the following are the cornerstones that inform the majority of my life's decisions.

Two black-eared kites over a turquoise and aquamarine ocean — Shimane Prefecture, Japan

Embrace Holistic Intelligence

Champion the harmonious blending of creative and STEM-based intelligence. Understand that intelligence is not confined to traditional academia but expands to include artistic and creative talents. Every individual has a unique blend of these intelligences that should be nurtured and celebrated.

Pursue Continuous Growth and Self-Education

Foster a lifelong commitment to learning and personal development. Regularly reflect on past selves to measure growth and set goals for future development. Encourage this mindset in others, promoting self-improvement, mindfulness, and the broadening of skills and abilities.

Advocate for Sustainable Innovation

Support sustainable practices in business and personal life, recognising the importance of preserving our natural world. Push for innovative solutions that are both environmentally friendly and economically viable, upholding our responsibility to future generations.

Build Meaningful Connections

Strive to foster a community of like-minded individuals who value art, education, and social innovation. Actively cultivate relationships that are not based on competition, but on mutual growth and shared aspirations. Understand the power of collaboration in affecting change, and make openness, accountability, and inclusivity the cornerstones of all community interactions.

My journey is an ongoing one, filled with continuous growth, self-education, and, above all, a commitment to affect meaningful change.

Jake Hopking