I am excited to introduce this interview with a talented artist from Dallas, Texas. Josh Dodson’s background in graffiti heavily influenced his style, and now he creates intricate, geometric paintings that incorporate light and shadow to create depth and illusions.
In this interview, we get an insight into the artist’s design process, how it informs his painting, his approach to color theory, and geometry’s role in his artistic vision. The artist also talks about his journey from experimenting with canvas and spray paint to becoming a full-time artist with gallery representation.
Can you tell us about your background and how you got into the art world?
I was born and raised here in Dallas, Texas. For as long as I can remember, drawing and painting have always been my creative outlet. As a child, I was hyper-aware of my surroundings and would often daydream about the future and the infinite possibilities that it holds. As I got older, my interests would change but art was always there. When I reached my adolescent years, I was introduced to the subculture of graffiti writing and that is when everything changed for me. Graffiti made me feel like I had a purpose. I made strong bonds with other graffiti writers and that chapter of my life provided so many experiences and stories.
As a young adult, I realized that I wanted something more out of art and the thought of pursuing it as a career sounded more and more enticing. I started to experiment on canvas using mainly spray paint and acrylic, making paintings for myself and some close friends. This led to participating in a few group exhibitions and slowly over time, I started to get approached by different curators for smaller more intimate gallery shows.
Around the same time, I began to receive some small mural commissions that brought my art into the public space. Things only grew from there, leading to more large-scale mural productions and more elaborate shows. Fast forward to today, I am now a full-time artist with a steady mural business and gallery representation by Susan and Jordan Roth at Ro2 Art here in Dallas. The gallery has brought my art to incredible places and has been instrumental in my career as an artist.
Your work is heavily influenced by graffiti. Can you talk about how that has shaped your style as an artist?
Graffiti was and is still very much a part of my work. In ways, it was a form of identity and on and off the wall per se. The alphabet is an interesting thing to meddle with structurally speaking. Graffiti is all about the letters; each letter has its own identity and attitude; some are stronger than others while some have a more playful demeanor. It gets interesting when you start to add or take away parts of letters to create a different relationship between them. My contemporary work is more compartmentalized and focuses on the deconstruction and geometrical aspects of lettering and abstraction.There is a level of perfectionism that I try to achieve when designing a set of paintings. It almost becomes mechanical with the use of tape, rulers, tools, etc. There isn’t any part that is randomized or done unintentionally. Click To Tweet
How does your design practice inform your painting and vice versa?
Much like my compositions, the design process is very rigorous. A fleeting thought turns into a rough idea. That idea is written out and then applied as a series of sketches that will go into design software. My work is very influenced by graphic design in a strange analog sense. The entire process is very technical from idea to finished painting. There is a level of perfectionism that I try to achieve when designing a set of paintings. It almost becomes mechanical with the use of tape, rulers, tools, etc. There isn’t any part that is randomized or done unintentionally.
Can you walk us through your process of creating a series of paintings?
When I begin an idea of how a series is developed, I want to keep the element of cohesiveness at the foundation. I often create diptychs and tryptic series. I rarely create stand-alone work. It is important to me to create some visual dialogue between paintings. In this way, they have a sense of communication when they are placed together. The color palette may be subdued or emphasized in a way that lets the viewer know that certain paintings are in relation to one another. Often certain colors or songs have a profound effect on me and influence the direction of the painting as well as the title of a piece.I rarely create stand-alone work. It is important to me to create some visual dialogue between paintings. In this way, they have a sense of communication when they are placed together. Click To Tweet
Can you talk about using color in your works and how you approach color theory in your practice?
I have always had a deep fondness for color. Being intentional about the balance of color in my work is important to the process. Because I primarily use spray paint in my work, gradients often find their way into the composition, adding depth in places that I want the viewer to be drawn. Sometimes, emphasis on one color dominating the painting is a great feeling, all while letting the imagination take control of how the color plays with the rest of the palette. Things come naturally in certain settings, but in others, it can take quite some time to choose a palette.
Your paintings often have a sense of structure and abstraction. Can you tell us more about that and how it ties into the meaning behind your works?
My affinity for structure and balance is the foundation of my work, very much how graffiti is based on letter structure. I realized long ago that I have always been fascinated by the physical properties of the world whether it be human-made or natural. My newest series of works are all constructed of wood, which gave me an added level of control in creating these works from scratch. Being involved in the construction process at this level is very personal to me. They become their own stand-alone objects completely independent of their surroundings.
Your works often have a dynamic interplay between light and shadow. Can you discuss how you utilize these elements in your pieces?
Incorporating light and shadow allows me to create depth and bring an illusionary element to the paintings. When the paintings are on display the gallery lighting brings these qualities to life in a strangely accurate way. It also engages curiosity on how it’s made. Adding layers to the composition keep the viewer wondering if the shadows or highlights are painted or in fact real. Some shadows are a result of the actual structure itself while others are painted in.
Your work often incorporates geometric elements and shapes. What role does geometry play in your artistic vision and philosophy?
My heavy reliance on geometry is something that came as a product of transitioning from graffiti to fine art. It has a strange way of connecting everything in life. As children, we are given basic shapes to play with and they are engrained in us as learning tools all through life. The use of angles and linework are the backbones of my work and give these paintings a sense of motion and identity. I am trying to balance form and function perfectly in each piece I create.
How can the use of geometry and abstraction in the painting be used to convey more profound philosophical ideas or messages to the viewer?
I think the presence of geometric abstraction in my work speaks to the importance of open-mindedness. There is a profound feeling of fulfillment I get from creating relationships with shape and color. With the socio-economic turmoil the world is experiencing, we could all benefit from a little vibrance and curiosity. Much like music can evoke a set of feelings, the same can be said for visual art.
When creating your works, how do you envision the viewer’s experience, and what emotional or intellectual response do you hope to evoke from them?
Just to take a pause from life and have fun viewing it. I want the viewer to enjoy seeing color through a different lens and try to let their imagination make sense of it all. I hope it can bring out the inner child and sense of happiness that color can bring. Maybe it can bring out that special memory that one holds dear.
Based on your experience with exhibiting your work, what do you think viewers generally take away from your paintings, and how do they respond to the interplay between structure, color, and abstraction in your pieces?
People often see many different things when they view my work in a gallery setting. They view them from different angles trying to figure out what is real and what is not. I think the playfulness between the use of color and abstraction is what leaves people smiling. People associate colors with different things and in different ways. I always find it intriguing what the imagery in my work reminds people of. It sometimes reminds them of a memory, a place, or an object.I think the playfulness between the use of color and abstraction is what leaves people smiling. People associate colors with different things and in different ways. I always find it intriguing what the imagery in my work reminds… Click To Tweet
What advice would you give to aspiring artists who are just starting on their artistic journey?
Be intentional with what you want out of art. Don’t pay attention to trends and do it for yourself. Go to art shows and art museums, network with other artists, and get out of your comfort zone. Have a strong work ethic but remember to take time off. Try to do at least one thing creatively every day, even if it’s just doodling. Practice makes progress and as always, trust the process.
For more information about Josh Dodson’s art, please visit his website at https://www.joshdodsonstudio.com/.
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