1. Most artists have a favorite medium, what is yours? If you work in multiple media, which one is the most enjoyable for you?
I paint in acrylic more than anything because I understand it better than others, though sometimes I’ll work in watercolor. And most recently, I painted on a cake with food coloring for the first time, and now I’m thinking of the possibilities with that. In the future I don’t want to be called a painter, but a Jack-of-all-trades. I’m sitting on a pile of ideas for sculpture, music, film, and performance–some that I’ve been planning for more than a few years. I’m just waiting for the right time and connections to start firing these things off.
2. Do you have any secret shortcuts? I mean, do you use odd tools, techniques, or anything else that isn’t strictly status-quo for your medium? How did you figure out that it worked?
I use stencils and spray paint from time to time for different patterns on my acrylic works, and sometimes I’ll tape areas off to get a straight line. I wouldn’t call those unusual necessarily, but I suppose they are short cuts. I have some ideas for sculptures that I’m going to do later this year that involve no tools, and only sticks and sand. Those are going to start popping up around my town unannounced in the summer.
3. What was the first thing someone bought from you, that you made? How did it feel to sell that piece? Are there pieces you keep hidden away, or keep for yourself, and why?
Haha, well if you really want to know the first piece of art I ever sold.. in third grade I had some finger paint and a lot of rocks. I painted them all, and sold them to my classmates for a quarter a piece. I think I am an entrepreneur at heart. The first paintings I sold were some water color pieces as a teenager, and at first it was difficult selling things because of the personal meanings associated with them. Eventually I realized that I don’t make art for myself, I make it for others. Nothing I make should be for me because the meanings or concepts behind them were in my mind. The best thing I can do is to pass that onto someone else.
4. Working with people is sometimes the hardest part of art. How do you deal with people?
I’ve been very fortunate with commission requests, in that a lot of people approach me, despite that my portfolio is still relatively small. That said, a lot of people don’t consider the cost of material or the value of time, and expect that something of reasonable size is going to be cheap. Everyone I’ve actually done work for has been great. But I’ve also realized that the best thing I can do is to stop taking commissions for a while and focus on my own projects, and not worry if something looks good to someone else, but only to myself. And furthermore, I have more of a chance to network. If everything I do goes straight into someone’s home, I’ll get nowhere. So I need to do this to see how many doors I can open.
5. What jobs did you have before you started arting? You don’t have to list them all- but were any particularly awful, or interesting? Did those jobs influence the way you approach your art now?
My first job was as a waiter at a bed and breakfast. I could share many awful stories about that, but I guess it’d be slanderous. I did some growing up with that job, and had a couple “firsts” in my life with it. I’ve worked in retail a few years, and I think it’s the one thing I wish I could change most. It doesn’t inspire my art, but it motivates me to keep going so that my life doesn’t end up so fruitless by staying there.
6. How long have you been working in acrylic? Do you think there are any new ideas in that field that are worth pursuing?
I started working in acrylic regularly in 2011. I’ve done some three dimenionsional works on layers of Plexiglas that I’m probably going to experiment with more in the future. I also want to eventually edit my acrylic works digitally so that I might make them work as screen printed shirts.
7. How do you feel about using projectors, tracing, and photographs as reference for your work? Do you use these? Do you think it’s cheating if you use your own sketches or photographs to start out with? And, what do you think of camera obscuras, camera lucidas, and other optical aids like grids, for perspective and proportion?
I think it’s completely fine for artists to use aids as they see fit. I think if you’re learning and just starting out then it is cheating. I have personally never used a projector or traced (except on projects where it was expected or necessary, such as replicating the same piece and changing the designs on each). But one day, while researching how to get into creating photorealistic paintings, I discovered that the use of projectors is common. I was a bit disappointed at first, but it requires a great deal of talent to do something that realistically, and tracing in that case doesn’t put a dent in that type of artist’s reputation.
8. Have you taken any formal art classes? Have you had a mentor help you? Do you have “spirit artists” to guide you?
I majored in studio art, and learned a lot of things I couldn’t have otherwise, such as printmaking (wish I could have done more), ceramics, and dark room photography. I am a big fan of new stuff. Pat Perry and Charmaine Olivia are my two favorites right now.
9. Do you make prints or reproduce your work? How do you feel about public exposure to your work? Does it make you nervous to be in a spotlight, or do you enjoy it?
I will be making a lot of prints in the near future. I want to get about half way through the series I’m working on now, and then begin selling giclee prints, post cards, shirts, etc. I want my works to be produced in many ways as possible. Some think that cheapens the meaning behind the work, but the way I see it, some people perhaps can’t afford to have an original, and some people could care less about having something hanging on their wall. Maybe they like art better when they can wear it. But for public exposure? Man, I am so shy around new people. But when my work is at the forefront, I am careless and euphoric. I have dreams of being famous someday (for music and short films) because of how good I feel when I share my work with someone. It’s addictive.
10. If you earn your living with art, how many hours a week do you work? Counting research, sketching, cleaning up, framing, promotion, etc. Do you think you get paid a decent wage for this? Do you think it matters, as long as you’re enjoying the work?
I don’t earn my living with art yet, and I work up to 40 hours a week with my day job. So I find there are times where I can’t even work on any projects in a week, when I am preoccupied with other things (as a matter of fact, as I’m writing this, I should be packing and cleaning to move into a new home). My paintings are beginning to take longer and longer to produce as I’m starting to learn to become a perfectionist. They used to take around twenty hours, and now I’d say they probably take around thirty. This is a big reason I wanted a break from commissions—so that I would feel more comfortable asking prices that I think the works deserve, and if they’re a bit out of budget then they can just hang on the wall until the right person comes a long.
11. When you began with art, what was the hardest thing to learn?
Patience. Simple as that. If you take your time to learn, then everything will fall into place. And that goes for everything I’ve encountered in life.
12. Do you have a site where you sell your work? which site, and how do you like it?
I’m going to try etsy later in the year. I’d planned to be started up with prints in September, and then I planned a traveling adventure that fell through, where I’d be painting and selling prints while on the road. And now I’m back with my original intention, but I’m waiting until I have some current works completed.
13. When you aren’t working, what are you doing with your time? Do you have any hobbies that are totally apart from your creative work, or does your art tend to creep in to your recreation time?
I feel like a lot of my hobbies are tied to my creative plans. A couple years ago I bought a unicycle and a guitar and I was determined to learn both, but I just didn’t stay with them and they collected dust. I’ve been practicing my guitar and I’ve finally got a yard to practice my unicycle in (moving into a house from an apartment). This is my year to start everything that I’m going to do. With every moment that passes, time becomes more precious to me.
You can find Josh and his works at