Tell us about yourself.
I never really painted much growing up, but I’ve been passionate about art for as long as I can remember. I started taking painting seriously about four years ago now and recently took the dive and quit my job to become a full-time artist.
How would you define the genre of your work?
I feel that my work belongs to a spectrum of genres. I’m influenced by everything really: graffiti, pop art, the 90s in general, my childhood, you know… stuff? Haha. I don’t really know, honestly. I like colours, I like characters, I just really like to create things that I think will look cool. It’s hard to explain, but it’s all just an escape, I think.
What about art do you most identify with and why painting?
Art is fun. I love what it does for people and how it makes me feel, whether I’m creating or experiencing it. Painting is something that I always found really relaxing. My mom was diagnosed with cancer three years ago and I sort of just picked it up as a hobby to help deal with the stress. My mom and I are super close and for some reason painting really helped me cope. She’s all better now, though—don’t worry. Love you, Momma.
How long do you usually spend creating one of your pieces?
That’s impossible to tell, really. It varies. Sometimes inspiration just hits and I’ll be up all night because I just need to get it out of my head. Other times I’ll think about it for days or even weeks before I ever put paint down on the canvas.
When you’re not creating, how are you spending your free time?
Hanging out with friends and family, skateboarding, movies, cooking… ice cream… you know. I’m pretty much just a normal dude who doesn’t want to stop being a kid.
Recently you designed the album cover for electronic dance music artist Justin Martin’s 2016 release, Hello Clouds. What did you enjoy most about this collaboration?
It was so crazy getting the call to do Hello Clouds. I’ve been pretty into the dance music scene for a while now and Justin was one of my biggest influences while getting to know the music. For someone like him to ask me to design something as big as their album cover was crazy. The fact that I was granted an opportunity like that in my short time as an artist makes me very grateful.
You have also collaborated with Future Grownup Art Collective to create a one-of-a-kind custom T-shirt collection, with the pockets cut from the original canvas of your Wish You Were Here and All My Friends Are Weird paintings. How important is originality to you?
Well, when it comes to originality, Future Grownup does it best. From the moment their founder, Zach Wilcox, approached me with the idea, I was hooked. I got goose bumps, I was so excited. What kind of people commission paintings to cut them up and put the individual pieces on shirts for everyone to wear and see? It’s really been an honour being a part of their launch and I’m super excited to see where they go from here. Keep an eye out for more collaborations between them and me.
We are excited to hear about your next venture, Neatogang, a company curated to spread art, clothing, and friendship… and pendants coming this fall! What inspired you to create this company?
Neatogang is basically a collective that I’m working on between commissions and other projects. It’s whatever I want it to be at the time, really: friends, music, clothing…. I’ve had the privilege of working with such great people and brands as of late, and I think that inspired me to want to invest in my own vision. Not to say that every piece of my work reflects my vision in some way; I just wanted to create a vessel for me to express my ideas and work with other artists. A gang of people doing neat things: NEATOGANG!
What is it about Medium Watches that appeals to your artistic identity?
I really like how they strive to be unique. Their products really stand out in this awesome way, where they have a clean and simplistic look but when you get up close the attention to detail gets more and more acute. It appeals to my artistic identity because that’s exactly how I feel about my art. The way I feel about my clean lines and solid colours is the same approach I think they take when designing their watches and how they get more impressive the closer you look.
If you could create your own Medium Watch, what would it look like?
I’d keep it real simple but with some pop. I think it’d be cool to do something with a mesh wristband—probably black—and with a light-grey face and a bright electric-blue for the arms. I don’t know, some combination of those colours. Or, honestly, I’d love to put one of my mixed-feelings faces on a watch. I think that would be funny. Maybe make it so that at bedtime he frowns. Haha.
What’s next for Joshua Makorto?
Keep creating, designing, painting, and building up all of these projects I have on the go. NEATOGANG, Future Grownup, and other collaborations keep me pretty busy, but we’re all going to grow together. To me, family and community is what art is about. I’m so excited to see where all of this goes and, honestly, I feel like this is just the beginning of something very big for all of us. Oh… and hopefully find a girlfriend!
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