Artist Proof: Josh Richteris an Illinois based illustrator & painter who also has a B.A in Photography from Columbia College in Chicago. He pushes the boundries of convential practices when it comes to his artwork, by blurring the barriers between the mediums he uses, incorporating elements of his photography to compliment his illstrations and paintings.
Artsprojekt: What inspires your art?
Josh: My art is heavily inspired by, first and foremost, my own perception of reality. I like to think, and most people would say this about themselves I’m sure, that I look at the world differently than the general populace. As far back as I can remember, I have been lost in my own little world. I have always been imagining and creating new, abstract concepts and experiences in my head. I am most interested in the concept of identity, however. The idea that anyone or anything can be “identified” by certain characteristics (i.e. their experiences, environments, physical appearance, behaviors, etc.) has always fascinated me. Because in my mind, nothing is a constant. The world around us is forever changing; forever evolving. So with new experiences bombarding us daily, we are forced to make decisions millions of times a day. And every decision we make then defines us in some way. this process, in my opinion, leaves us completely without identity. How can one be defined or maintain an identity, if it is constantly changing? If one’s identity is defined through their mind, and their mind changes based upon a hundred new experiences they are confronted with every day, how can that identity be maintained? This concept has always been a vehicle for my artwork. I strive to portray these ideas and my personal answers to these questions in my art. My art is also heavily influenced by music. I listen to all kinds of music. And every time i listen to a song, i envision a scene, or see an event transpiring. These creative visions, more often than not, become the subject of my artwork. The inspiration from music and my perception of reality have always been building blocks for ym art, but in the end i always try to relate my art back to a message. I am forever asking myself “what can i say to my audience?”
AP: What is the relationship between your technique and content in your work?
Josh: My technique varies with each craft I pursue. With my photography, I am usually very precise about how i set up a scene or an image. I know who I want to photograph, what time of day I want, the location, the clothing, the body position down to how many inches apart someone’s fingers are from each other, etc. And this usually has a direct relationship with the content or message of the piece. If i want to portray a certain mood, I keep that in the forefront of my every decision. Now, when it comes to my sketches, paintings, illustrations, and digital collages, I am very chaotic. There are usually lot’s of splatters, stains, heavy lines, rough edges, etc. I am very aggressive with my images. However, in either case, whether it be photography or something else, I am always directly relating my technique with the content of my work. Usually, my work consists of something very abstract, surreal, or unnatural. I often portray a situation or subject that could never exist in the real world, but these subjects are always metaphors for something that my audience can relate to (i.e. a broken relationship, a mental breakdown, a strong bond between friends, a bad dream, etc.). The manner in which I choose to create these works of art always directly relates to the message I wish to convey. Take my piece “Synonym” for example. The subject of the work is a pair of twin sisters, with their brains connected on the outside of their bodies. The brains are representative of tentacles and tumors. I am always shocked at how much control one person can have over someone else’s thoughts. The amount of influence we push onto each other as humans is staggering. So i chose to represent that connection of thought by illustrating a physical, and somewhat disgusting, connection between the two girls.
AP: Describe your first experience making art and how it affected your life’s journey.
Josh: I’m not sure I remember my first experience making art. I’ve been interested in art and creating art since I could hold a crayon. I can remember the first painting I ever made that had some sort of meaning behind it. I was a sophomore in high school. It was the first time I had ever used acrylic paints, and I had a blank 16×20” canvas board to paint anything I wanted on. So I decided to paint a huge raven ascending out of a tidal wave and flying towards the moon. It was a piece that captured everything I was feeling at the time. I was never a part of any real clique in high school. I wasn’t athletic, I wasn’t a math or computer nerd, I wasn’t a drama geek. I wasn’t interested in writing too much then, nor was I a rebel. I only had like 3 close friends and we all were outcasts. I didn’t really have much a fierce independence either. I was very bland. so i felt like I was being swept away by this huge tidal wave of life and I didn’t have much a say in where I was going, and I just wanted to fly out of the wave and reach some goal that nobody else was reaching for. So I painted my feelings. And after that I continued to place a deeper message in my artwork, and I continued to strive for independence and to stand out from those around me. I have since gone on to and graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a degree in Photography, I have sold several pieces, I have started a band and have my own solo musical project running steady with an album on the way, I have won several awards for my work, produced album and poster designs for several musicians, and I am about to be published for the first time. So technically speaking, I turned being an outcast into a profession.
AP: Describe your most recent experience of making art.
Josh: I just finished these two paintings that are supposed to be promotional images for my upcoming musical album. My stage name for my music is Pixel Parade. The album I am working on is called Echoes In Color. It’s due out late January or Early February 2010. So I decided to create some paintings reflecting the stories portrayed in the album. I’m hopefully going to have prints available for sale shortly after the album is released. One of the paintings is of a little boy sitting alone in a foggy void. he has just cut off his arm with a saw blade, and a tree sapling is sprouting from the wound. The other painting is a companion piece to the first painting, and is of a red, two-headed jackal sitting a similar void. One head is growling and the other is missing it’s bottom jaw. Both paintings are mixed media (acrylic paint and india ink), but they have a very watercolor feel to them.
AP: Take us on a guide tour through a day in your life as an artist.
Josh: Well, I most likely will wake up about 9:00 or 10:00. Haha. Then I spend some time just listening to music. I get really motivated to work on art by listening to music. Most often I crank up Circa Survive or Boards of Canada to get my creative wheels turning. Then I’ll sketch for a while, or I’ll go out and do some photographing. Once I’ve had some time to warm up my mind and get all the junk out of my head, I sit down and begin to work more specifically on one or two refined ideas. I spend most of my time sitting at my computer. This includes either editing photographs, or working with my wacom tablet to illustrate what’s in my head. I am on a constant diet of caffeine. I always have a cup of coffee, or an energy drink or soda in my hand. I’ll end up working on one piece for 6 to 10 hours a day sometimes. Others, I can crank out four or five pieces in a few hours. It usually depends on the complexity of the piece or how well I am able to work that day. Avery artist has their off days. And I have more than my fair share. But a successful day usually means only 3-4 hours of sleep, little to no food, and several new pieces finished.