J.W. Affourtit is a creative double-threat, enjoying art and writing.

He makes art his full-time job, working as the art director of a Winston-Salem ad agency, while writing provides a creative outlet.

He has combined the two in his new book of poetry, “Wild Flower,” available locally at Sunnyside Mercantile, 724 N. Trade St., and Urbn Grl, 908 Burke St. The book features Affourtit’s prose with graphic elements he designed.

Published under his pen name, J.W. Matthew, the book was two years in the making.

“My first book was a little more rushed, and I didn’t take time to curate how the story should be told inside the book. For this one, I went through everything I wrote for two years and thought, ‘OK, this tells a story.’ I took my time with it,” Affourtit said.

The book covers the period after a break-up and the personal growth that followed.

Affourtit, 29, moved to Winston-Salem from Atlanta seven months ago. He has a disciplined writing practice, putting pen to paper every day.

“Even if I don’t want to,” he said. “Even if I hate whatever I wrote, at least I still do it.”

Q: How would you describe your art?

Answer: Raw and vulnerable. I figure, if I’m going to write about it, I’m going to lay it all out there.

Q: How have you evolved as an artist?

Answer: It took me a couple years to find my voice. Obviously, humans are constantly evolving and I’ve found that I’m really learning as I go. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve begun to let go of the things I think, and I am told, I should be, and I’ve allowed myself to be present and feel more.

Q: Who has influenced your art?

Answer: It’s not a who, what or where — it’s everything. I’m influenced by the color of the sun rising across 85 North at 6 a.m., interactions with strangers, music that fits the mood, being present in a moment and absorbing that feeling.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

Answer: Writing when I don’t feel inspired.

Q: What does art do for you?

Answer: Writing has always been my creative outlet. It allows me to observe the world in ways that others might overlook. Poetry is earnestly free — it doesn’t have to fit into a mold and can be as vague or detailed as the writer wants. It can contain and convey any feeling, at least that’s how I see and use it.

Q: Any advice for other artists?

Answer: Do it for yourself. Self-satisfaction will always taste sweeter and be more meaningful than any alternative.

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Lisa O’Donnell writes about artists — visual, musical, literary and more — weekly in relish. Send your story ideas to lodonnell@wsjournal.com or call 336-727-7420.

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