Joshua Winston: Visual Artist
TSM: Joshua, thanks so much for taking time out of your schedule to do an interview for the magazine. It’s great to have you in TSM.
JW: My pleasure! I’ve been looking forward to sharing my work and personal views with you and your viewers.
TSM: When did you first get into art? And what inspired you to become an artist?
JW: I never imagined I would be and artist. Never occurred to me. As a child, I dreamt of being a Rockstar musician. Perhaps being an artist was the next best thing. Art happened to me around 2013 at the age of 25. Growing up I had always been creative but lacked life experience and was ignorant to the power and magic that art possessed. It took years of poor decisions, addiction and self-imposed crisis to discover its value and impact on the human heart and soul. Once I found it, I somehow knew that it would be a part of my life for years to come.
In my experience, it brought about a sense of purpose. This is what kept me around. Ever elusive, my purpose in the world always seemed to be somewhat of a mystery. I always felt I would do or be something different than your typical 8-5er. But what? Certainly, there is something beyond shitting, shaving and sitting in traffic. Creating art was the first thing that provided any inkling that I was headed in the right direction. Though, my chances of a successful art career seemed low to moderate, I latched on to the concept and leapt from the cliffs on uncertainty into the waters of possibility.
TSM: What is your process for creating a piece of work?
JW: The creative process depends on who the piece is for. Creating commissioned work tends to feel very mechanical, an obligation that I wish away from my proverbial plate. Not due to picky clients or lack of passion, but mainly because I have already spent their 50% deposit, and now feel enormous pressure to deliver perfection in a timely manner.
Commissions aside, when working on new pieces to evolve my work, it is a tedious but enjoyable process. After twenty minutes of Spotify crate digging, I put on some music and begin dropping eggs on the floor. These days I primarily work with Emu and Ostrich eggs. Dropping eggs on a hard floor from about 6 ft. provides plenty of multi-sized fragments as I need large, medium and small pieces to complete a typical work. I then tack each piece on the canvas by hand using a multitude of various glues and adhesives.
Within each work, there is usually between 10-15 large shell fragments that provide the desired flow and character of the sculpture. It’s not uncommon for me to spend 20 or 30 minutes trying to locate the perfect spot to glue one piece of eggshell. It’s quite meticulous. So, when I realize I have just glued one of those perfect pieces, I get up, stand back and soak in the progress of the work. This goes on and on. And on… Once the raw sculpture is complete, I apply numerous coats of resin that hardens and gives the once fragile sculptures strength and durability. Due to the dry time needed and number of coats applied, this process gets lengthy. Colors are chosen and the base coat goes on. Then, using only my fingers, I apply some sort of complimentary color to bring it together. Finally, a coat of clear resin or water-based varnish seals the deal.
TSM: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
JW: The many seasons of life bring loads of ever-evolving inspiration. In the beginning of my career, I pulled from raw emotion. Back then, I was lost and heartbroken; left for dead on the battlefield of drug and alcohol dependence. Overtime, that evolved into a focus on healing and searching for my higher self.
With that being said, inspiration wanes. However, there is one source that holds an infinite supply. God. Not the bearded one in the clouds or the one who condemns us to a fiery afterlife should we maintain our sinful ways. I’m talking about the power that exists among us. Source energy if you will. For example, seeing an exotic flower for the first time or observing the depth and vastness of the Grand Canyon. Things that leave us asking ourselves, how? How is it possible? The moments that bring us closer to believing there is something special working in the universe. Some unexplainable, creative energy that gives us a sense of grandeur.
For me, this comes through when witnessing the reactions of people who are seeing my work in person for the first time. I’m not suggesting my work compares to that of the infinite creator; I’m saying that our creations turn the gears of the brain and invites the viewers mind to open up.
I’ll never forget the first time my work was shown to a group of people. Their reactions were mixed. Some enamored and speechless, while others were confused or unsure. With wide eyes, they slowly inched toward the alien-like rigidity, uttering phrases like, “What. The. F*********ck is this?” and “This is insane! What is it made of? Metal? Glass? Ceramic?” Their heads seemed to hurt trying to figure out what it was. With a full heart and smiling soul, I had found my new inspiration for pushing the limits of my work. Moments like these, I’ve never felt a feeling quite like that.
TSM: I know you work with a unique medium, eggshells. What inspired you to use eggshells for your creations?
JW: I was online and came across some mosaic art made from eggshells. I had an instant connection. With dry and reddening eyes, I couldn’t look away from the screen. It was something you might find at a small town craft show. It was for sale on one of those Etsy-like websites for $50. Financially deficient, I couldn’t afford to buy it, so I made one myself.
What occurred when engaging in the process of making this piece was nothing short of pure magic. I remember that night. There was something happening. Something special. For months after, I recall rushing home from work to glue pieces of eggshell on a canvas.
Needless to say, my roommates were not thrilled my first “art studio” would be erected in the common area dining room between 7pm and 3am. They couldn’t figure out why a grown man spent every waking hour piddling around with chicken eggs. Cracking, cleaning, drying, sorting and gluing. They encouraged me to join the military or invest more time in finding a “decent job.” You know, something with great “benefits.” I scoffed but couldn’t help to think they may be right.
When I saw that mosaic online, I was stuck on it. At the time, I couldn’t quite put my finger on the reason why. In retrospect, I believe my subconscious was pulling me towards a tangible platform that would show me how to put things back together again, a process I desperately needed to emulate in my own personal life. My life’s pieces were strewn around me and I would pick them up with my left hand while clinching a bottle with my right. This would ultimately lead to adding more pieces to the pile. I didn’t know it then, but the creative process was my training wheels for healing.
TSM: What kinds of things do you do to get your “creative juices” flowing?
JW: Now sober, there have been revisions but none the less, equally satisfying. Where there were once cigarettes and questionable substances, are now tea and pistachios. Both great ways to get into the flow of things; I just found the latter more sustainable.
I also try to embody the feeling of the next level, whatever that is.
Let’s say it’s my first solo exhibition. I put myself there. I feel the track lighting shine on my face, smell the fresh varnish from the art and hear the sound of a sticky shoe trekking spilt champagne around the gallery. I’m in my element. Where I belong. Where I was born to be.
There is a lot of power in thought and the words we silently tell ourselves.
TSM: What sort of lasting impression do you hope your work will have on other people?
JW: My hope is that my work can develop a new set of lenses within the perception of the viewer.
People tell me all the time how they just throw their eggshells away every morning without any thought. Of course they do, we all do. Furthermore, we throw away more than breakfast scraps. Whether it’s a relationship, opportunity or our self-esteem, there are times when we feel like something is so damaged it should be damned to the dump. So, when you feel broken and fractured, do you dive headfirst into a dumpster? Hell no, you cry, wallow and go through the pain in a likely ungraceful way. Perhaps bawling in your bathtub or the KFC drive thru. Then you get back up emerging with a new vibrance in your heart. It served it’s purpose in a tough but beautiful way.
I hope my work can be a reminder that a rare and sweet concoction can be made from the lemons that arrive at our doorstep without a word of our consent; That there is always a way to bring something broken or tarnished back to a redeeming beauty.
TSM: Who are some visual artists you admire and look up to?
JW: Henrik Uldalen, Matthew Ryan Herget, Andrew Salgado and Carlos Delgado are at the top of my list. They are all contemporary artists who paint extremely loose and use shit loads of paint to create figurative abstracts. I’m very picky and it takes a certain blend of specific qualities to really move and shake my spirit. These guys have done that.
TSM: If you had the power to do something in the world today, what would it be and why?
· Shut down Sea World and free the Orcas
· Tax incentives for acts of love (maybe more people would try it out)
· Prohibit the use of Hidden Valley ranch dressing in restaurants
· Free Joe Exotic
· Lock up Hillary
· Give Trump a truth serum
· Reinvent radio
· Mandatory meditation in schools
Because the world would be a better place.
TSM: What is one of your favorite quotes (or lines) that inspires you?
JW: “No one has to do something he doesn’t want to do for the rest of his life. But then again, if that is what you wind up doing, by all means convince yourself that you had to do it. You’ll have lots of company.”
– Hunter S. Thompson
Hunter gives us some brilliant, yet simply put insight into a topic that few care to discuss much less admit to. I extracted these lines from a book of published personal letters written by Thompson. In this particular letter, Hunter writes about those who procrastinated in their choosing and inevitably have their choices made for them by circumstance. They have this dreadful feeling of being stuck as their dreams and ideal life become tiny dots in the rear-view mirror. Eventually, they become comfortable in their safe and ordinary canned lives. Even if they had the balls to get out and pursue their dreams, they cower down to fear, terrified of losing their kids, wives, minds or the comfort of health insurance and Christmas bonuses. Even if it wasn’t too late to take the risk, there are too many things they have to do.
This letter really shook things up for me.
TSM: Anything else you would like to share? And where can readers find out more about you and your art?
JW: After a year or more of hiding, I’ve finally began preparations for a re-launch. My website will have loads of new work in different styles, colors and sizes. Go to JoshuaWinston.com and subscribe to see all of my new work as it is released. Also, follow me on Instagram @joshuawinston.
TSM: Thanks again for doing an interview and wish you all the best in the future.
JW: Thank you so much Jessica! Be well. J