Joshua Davis is a New York City-based artist, designer and technologist.
Davis defines his works as tropism, which is the innate tendency of living organisms
in nature to move without thought. He uses computer generated patterns of
hand-drawn elements with the end goal to suspend chaos in a state of harmony.
Q&A with Joshua Davis
What came first for you, technology or art?
Art came first; technology came a lot later.
What made you decide to mix art with design and technology?
It really gives me the ability to be a designer, a programmer and a critic, all as part of my process.
What are your inspirations for your art?
Mostly history, nature, and foreign cultures, and often a combination of all three. But also from my garden. I pull a lot of colors from my garden. What really interests me is reinterpreting things that have happened in the past - but changing the medium. For example, in the sakroots artist circle “flower power” print most of my inspiration came from Japanese kimonos - embroidery, silk, floral patterns, that kind of thing.
Describe your artistic process.
It starts with a seed idea - be that a kimono, a Balinese mural, an antique map, or even the jellyfish at the Coney Island aquarium. I take that idea and then I refine it, and I refine it, and I keep refining it until I feel happy. Then I experiment, experiment, experiment, until I get to a place of harmony. My process is inherently chaotic. Once I start playing with the code, I really don’t know what is going to come out on the other end. That is why my work is often referred to as a “beautiful accident”. So my goal, with all the chaos, is to suspend that chaos into a state of harmony.
Based on your process, how do you know when a piece of art is complete?
Honestly, it’s when the chi is right. There’s an energy flow to the creative process and to the work, and when that energy is coherent, it is done.
What was your inspiration for the sakroots “flower power” print?
I had in my mind a very peaceful, organic piece. The rich textures and floral patterns are reinterpretations of things I found in traditional kimonos and formed the basis of the print. Then I refined the composition over, and over again. I think there were about nine iterations of the print before the energy was right.
Is being eco-friendly important to you? If so, what are some ways you stay green?
Very much so. You can buy prints of my artwork but rather than offset printing, I print to order, which saves trees. A digital, technology driven lifestyle also helps me be green. Rather than using a different product for each specific use, I have one product that does everything. My iphone is my go-to device that does everything.
Did you always want to be an artist?
Yes, ever since 2nd grade. I went to Catholic school and did artwork for a book report. A nun noticed what I’d done and saw a talent. She called my parents and told them they should nurture it. It was unexpected, and there are no artists in my family, but they listened, and went out and bought me an oil painting kit. In 2nd grade I did my first oil painting, and I was hooked.
If you weren’t an artist, what would you be doing?
Gardening. I would definitely be a landscaper. In fact, I spend about half my time out in the dirt. I try to go to Amsterdam every year just for the bulbs. I bring back about 600 bulbs every year, my favorites are Lilies.
How do you view the world, what is your philosophy?
In one respect, technology is bringing us together and globalization has a positive effect. I would not have the audience I do without globalization. I thought that if I moved to New York to become an artist, I might be able to have a decent audience here, but I never imagined I would be able to have the kind of global reach that I do, with followers all over the world. The ability to communicate across the globe is incredible, but at the same time it also has ramifications. Globalization can be a barrier - particularly for those who cannot access the technology and the information. Programs like one laptop per child recognizes that and is doing something about it, which is great, but it causes such a divide. Also, we have all these amazing communication tools, but in some ways they enable us to communicate less. Negativity is an epidemic in our society. It is a barrier to productivity and it is everywhere, and it’s a huge problem. I do not subscribe to that really, when it comes down to it, as long as I strive for enlightenment, positivity, and to be the best person I can, everybody wins.
When you’re not at your computer, where can we find you?
I am generally in one of four places: at the computer, in the garden, skateboarding and teaching at the NY School of Visual Arts or in another country.
Any other interesting facts about you?
I am slowly designing myself. I’ve spent the past 15 years designing what’s called a body suit and my goal is to be tattooed from the neck down. I was also a sponsored skateboarder.