Friday, October 07, 2011

Interview: Josh Peter

I came across Josh Peter's quite recently after liking the banner which features his artwork on the Sea Parrot blog. After that I found his Daily Stranger illustrations, which I found so adorable and inspirational- have scrolled through every single one now, and it definitely makes me want to get better about remembering to carry a notebook with me! Josh kindly agreed to answer my questions so I could feature his work here, and as an added bonus, his answer to the 'favourite artists' questions provides a great list of recommendations.

Where do you consider 'home'?
The American Midwest. More specifically, Chicago-land. I grew up in a small town 60 miles from the city. We have big forests and fields, friendly folks, hot summers, cold winters, and corn.

Are members of your family artistic?
My mother is an interior designer. I get it from her.

Are you a full time artist?
While I am a considered a full-time freelance illustrator and graphic designer, bar-tending is what really pays the bills right now.

How do you go about finding commercial work?
I find work through a combination of strategies – free online folio sites (such as Illustration Mundo), word-of-mouth, my blog, and I am also represented by Artisan Talent. I find that most work comes from someone I've met personally, so as in any business, getting out there and making good impressions is important.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?
I worked with Nike for their 2009 Chicago Marathon campaign. Seeing my illustrations on Michigan Avenue, the most popular strip in downtown Chicago, was amazing.

How do you record your ideas for new pieces?
I always have a little sketchbook in my back pocket. Right now I'm loving 3.5" x 5.5" moleskin notebooks. They're super thin, so they don't make my butt look big.

Do you have any experience with exhibiting?
I've participated in several juried exhibitions, including Ars Nova at Northern Illinois University, as well as 'Real People,' a figure drawing exhibition in Illinois.

Is there a particular gallery in the world where you would love to have your work exhibited?
I'd like my work to be in MoMA fifty years after I'm dead.

What role has the internet played in your artistic career?
Where to start? My most exciting jobs have been thanks to my blog, I have work in several online portfolios, I network on Facebook with other members of AIGA, I could go on and on. The internet has revolutionized our industry. But it's also watered it down and devalued some of what we do. Unique work, talent, and face time are as important as ever.

Do you have any special routines or habits for creating artwork?
I'm all over the place. One of my favorite things to do is devour a massive load of web content, design magazines, etc., go to bed and let my sub-conscience digest it, then get up and draw first thing in the morning. I also find I come up with some of my best ideas when I'm out-and-about. I'm always drawing in coffee shops and parks.

What artistic training do you have, and do you believe you have benefited more from formal lessons or your own experimentation in developing your style?
I loaded my schedule with art classes in high school and participated in figure drawing classes and art camps outside of school, and went on to earn a Bachelor's in Fine Arts with an emphasis in illustration from Northern Illinois University. I'm a big believer in formal training, whether you want to be a painter, illustrator, tattoo artist, photographer, whatever. Having a strong foundation of understanding in formal technique and the universal principles of design are integral to any creative success.

Do you remember the first piece of artwork that you sold?
Oh gosh. The first? I have no idea. I was always 'the artist' kid in school, always selling drawings for a few bucks. I'm sure I spent all my profits on Playstation games.

Was your Daily Strangers series drawn from life or photographs? Do any of the subjects know they have been drawn?
A combination of the two. I prefer to draw from life, but would sometimes snap a photo of someone on my phone as they walked by. On a couple of occasions, I would find somebody extremely interesting and would explain to them what I do and have them pose for a photo. For the most part, though, I prefer to be anonymous.

Who are your favourite artists?
Oh wow. Okay:
Illustration: Edel Rodriguez. He does loads of work in book covers and editorial illustration. Edel is a master of visual metaphor and has an extraordinary talent for stripping concepts down to their most basic essence.
Fine Art: Geoffrey Todd Smith, Kay Rosen. A former instructor of mine at university, GTS composes mind-numbing patterns in a variety of mediums achieving pure abstraction. There is an 'over-and-over' aspect to his work that is enthralling. Kay Rosen creates typographic explorations, usually in very clever wordplay, that appeal to the designer in me.
Architecture: Frank Lloyd Wright. FRL revolutionized American Architecture, his integration of nature into the man-made while still being strikingly modern is incredible. His unapologetic Intensity can and should be applied to any creative platform.
Design: Kenya Hara. The head designer at the Japanese company MUJI, Kenya Hara's concept of 'design as an empty vessel' resonate with me. His book Designing Design is a work of art. There's an entire chapter on white as a color. I love it.

What is your favourite medium and colour to work with?
Pen on paper with digital color, screen print. Hmm, I guess I sort of love the obnoxious colors of the 80's, but toned down. Mustard yellow, salmon pink, pleasant blue-green.

What inspires you?
Everyday people, pop-culture, American literature.

Do you have any particular goals for the next five years?
I'd like to get out and explore. I'm currently planning a move to the UK to continue my education, but I can't get into specifics because it isn't set in stone. I'd hate to jinx it.

Josh Peter website.
Josh Peter Facebook fan page.
Josh Peter Tumblr.
Josh Peter blog. [Daily Stranger archives]


Teddi said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

completely fascinating! i feel like i learn so much from other people. don't you alice? his drawings with the words are my favorite.he's very perceptive. michigan ave. in chicago is quite an achievement.

Sara said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Wow, I'm really in love with his work! Thanks so much for sharing this great find!

Lauren said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

So glad you could find Josh's work through my blog! Josh is definitely one of the most talented pals I've got, and everyone should be checking his work out!