I recently discovered an artist that I just had to share with you guys! Who else has heard of Josh Young? I fell in love with his classical portraits that are interrupted by an abrupt brush stroke across the subject’s eyes. I reached out to see if he’d chat and do an interview for my blog series, Artist Spotlight, and lucky for us- it’s one of the best yet. Click through to see which portrait I selected for my home, read a really good interview, and get some artistic inspiration…
You guys know I enjoy mixing feminine and masculine decor, and when browsing Josh’s portrait collection, I immediately fell in love with Paulo. I don’t know if it’s the hat, printed collar, beard, or perfect posture… but it was definitely a portrait that stood out to me. He doesn’t have a permanent placement in my house quite yet, but after trying him in the master bedroom and living room, I’m confident he belongs somewhere in the living room.
The palette is really perfect paired alongside our green fireplace and marble surround, but I’d rather display Paulo on the wall (maybe with a gallery light?) as opposed to leaning him on the hearth. My plan is to wait until the kitchen is finished (and the dust subsides), then install him in a permanent position somewhere in the living room.
Anywho… enough about my house. Let’s dive right into the interview- it’s a good one! I’m excited to introduce you to my new friend, Josh…
S: How did your artistic career begin / what influenced you to pursue painting? Are you formally trained?
J: I’ve been painting ever since I was 7 years old. Self taught 100%. Europe and classic European art have always fascinated me and I remember growing up and going to The Met and being completely enamored with classic portrait paintings. While others were lined up in long queues to see a Van Gough or a Warhol (which both are incredibly amazing, don’t get me wrong), I was that weird kid staring up at these enormous portraits that were so lifelike they felt as if I were looking at a photograph into the past. They had such a presence and absolutely commanded the rooms they were in. It was love at first site for me. When I was 19, I moved to Milan, Italy and spent 7 years studying, living and working in the fashion capital where I feel my overall aesthetic and artistic style grew from. I started experimenting with appropriation art and using old portraits that I had photographed and began painting on top of them to create a juxtaposition of old world elements with modern-day techniques. When viewing a portrait, you’re typically drawn to their eyes as the first main focal point. I started painting blunt, avant-garde slashes across their eyes to abruptly change this focal point which ultimately changes the entire mood and composition of the painting, but also then allows your eyes to appreciate other elements of the portrait such as their wardrobe and facial expressions. I’ve always been an artist, but the creation of these portraits would ultimately be the beginning of my artistic career.
S: What motivates you to push your creative boundaries? Where do you seek inspiration?
J: I’m always trying to evolve and expand my creative capabilities. Whether it’s new techniques I’m trying to incorporate into my work or a new approach to a specific medium, I’m always mindful of my work remaining relevant and current while still insuring that whatever I create remains classic and pays homage to the past. I don’t know. It’s very hard to describe, but it’s a very delicate dance I’m always mindful of. While the future does excite me and I am the kind of person that is always in the mindset of, “what’s next?”, I am extremely inspired by the past and so is my work. Where I find harmony and personal creative achievement is by marrying the two. My portrait art as well as my Rétrograde and Bibliothèque collections are perfect examples of this inspiration. Rétrograde was inspired by numerous cities from various eras and incorporates prominent color palettes that were prevalent in those cities as that time. Bibliothèque is a collection where I painted and drew modern pieces onto the pages of antique books and documents from the late 1800’s – early 1900’s and breathed new life onto the pages of forgotten text. So the past is certainly my main source of inspiration and it inspires me all the time. I live in downtown Chicago’s historic Gold Coast neighborhood and I’m continuously inspired by the pre-war architecture here and find myself going for walks whenever I feel I need inspiration when developing a new collection or creating a new piece. Inspiration is everywhere and I’ve made sure I’m surrounded by it in all aspects of my life. As an artist, that is so incredibly important.
S: How would you describe your artistic style or aesthetic?
J: I’ve always called myself a minimalist-maximalist. I’ve never been just one or the other. As an artist, I’ve always found that balance, harmony and cohesion have always been equally as important as juxtaposition. It’s in absolutely everything I do. I love walking into a beautiful ornate room with vintage crown and framed moldings, opulent fireplaces and intricate parquet flooring and finding only a modular mid-century sofa, a Jean Prouvé chair and a George Nakashima coffee table inside. And that’s it. It’s what I’m all about. The environment has absolutely nothing to do with the elements that live amongst it, yet work so harmoniously and beautifully together. That to me is everything and I try to embody that into my work.
S: What is your ideal color palette?
J: I have always been a huge fan of neutral tones, but I’m certainly not afraid of color when done right. Neutrals to me just embody a rich yet relaxed mood that just remains classic yet so transitional. Autumn is my favorite season and it’s colors heavily influence not only my artwork but also my home. My ideal color palette would go a little something like this: Ecru, Ivory, White and Black with Saffron and Rust accents.
S: What is your proudest moment as an artist?
J: Honestly? I’ve been so extremely fortunate to have my work featured in various well known publications and have collaborated with some of the top interior designers in the industry. That has all been amazing and wonderful, but at the end of the day, when one of my customers sends me a DM or tags me in a picture on Instagram showing my work in their home and saying how much they love it, that to me is everything. I’m so appreciative of them and actually handwrite thank you notes to each and every one of my customers, regardless of the amount they purchase. There is so much artwork out there and the fact that someone choses one of my pieces to add to their home!? Wow. I mean, as an artist, what more can I ask for? To know that my vision is now a part of someones home is such an honor and privilege. Things like this make me proud of what I do and create.
S: What is your dream commission / collaboration or piece you’d someday like to tackle?
J: I would LOVE to work and be commissioned for a piece by Alyssa Kapito, Thomas O’Brien and/or Nate Berkus. These are all interior design gods of mine and I literally study every single thing they create and do. Again, they all appreciate and implement great use of balance and harmony while curating beautiful juxtapositions in their environments. To have one of my pieces be a part of their designs would be an absolute dream come true.
G I V E A W A Y
(*CLOSED… congrats to Craig for winning this one!) Enter to win your own Paulo print (8×10 print, with an 11×14 mat in a display sleeve). Here’s how to enter:
- Follow Josh on Instagram.
- Follow Room for Tuesday on Instagram (if you aren’t already).
- Comment below!
I hope you guys loved this interview and feature as much as I did! I’m really inspired by Josh and am so excited to finally install a piece of his work in my home. Sending a giant thank you to him for taking the time to chat and answer my questions. Be sure to follow him on Instagram and check out his shop for even more!
images: Josh Young Design House (excluding the first 3)