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Workspace: Josh Young

Back by popular demand is my Workspace series. It took a little hiatus while I was writing Travel Home and I had forgotten about it. When I sat down to think about what I should bring back to Sacramento Street - this was one series a lot of you have emailed about. It’s a place where I feature creatives that I discover and love. To kick things off is Josh Young!

When I first came across Josh Young’s work several years ago I instantly fell in love with his ability to work in a neutral palette but with so much texture. I’m constantly on the hunt for artwork for clients homes - looking for what would compliment the design and the aesthetic that bring into projects. Josh’s work is definitely at the top of my list for when clients begin the hunt for works of art.

I’ve been able to get to know Josh over the last year - he came to our Travel Home book signing in Chicago and then we all went out to dinner. When you first connect with someone online and then in person it’s amazing how it brings you even closer. I’ve watched how his work has developed and it just gets better and better. When I asked Josh to be part of this series he instantly said yes. Can’t wait for all of you to get to know Josh through this interview and be sure to follow him here.


I adore your work - the neutral palette and texture is what spoke to me when I first came across your pieces. Tell us a little bit about how you became an artist, was there a moment when you knew it was the right calling.

Thank you! I've been painting and drawing since the age of 5. At 13 my parents learned rather quickly that sports wasn't for me (they were both all-star athletes), and built me my first art studio in the basement of our home in Pennsylvania. I was captivated with the post-impressionist and how they viewed the world in such an abstract way...and I identified with that very early on.

When I was 19 I moved to Milan, Italy and would end up living there for almost 6 years. It's where I went to university, came of age, and really found myself both personally and creatively. Milan was really the root of my creative discovery and where I believe I found my point of view. The appreciation of the marriage between classical elements and modern techniques. I distinctively remember one day sitting in my apartment and coming to the realization that this was my true calling. I never thought nor realized it would become a career, but I knew that it was my true calling deep down inside. It would be many years later, and a lot of job hoping before I took the leap of faith and founded my studio in order to became a full time artist. I honestly have my husband to thank for that. He's the one who pushed me and always believed in my work and eye.

Tell us about your Chicago studio?

My studio is located in the heart of downtown Chicago's historic Gold Coast neighborhood. It's rather convenient because it's actually in the same building as our apartment. I literally wake up in the morning, take the elevator up, and I'm "at work". Convenience is very important to me because I find I'm most creative late at night and I never wanted to stress about driving or walking a long distance to and from home. Plus this is Chicago, let's get real, if you know me you know there's no way in hell I'm walking 5+ blocks in 10 degree weather.

It was also important to me to have my studio not only act as a place for me to work and create, but also inspire. I wanted the studio to feel like an escape and to be filled with the objects and things that I love. I work best when I'm comfortable and feel "at home".

What is one thing you can't live without in your studio?

Yikes, that's too hard to pick just one thing. Aside from the obvious materials and mediums I use I would say good music, candles, and my large collection of art and design books. There are hundreds of them and I am constantly referencing them.

What does a typical day look like for you?

After getting ready and taking the elevator up to the studio I typically meet with my assistant and studio manager to discuss the daily needs. While my assistant works on processing a lot of the orders from my online shop, I'm typically working on client commissions, planning out future collections, and photographing content for both my Instagram and website. The days in the studio are a bit hectic and crazy since we always have a million different things going on at once. With that, I always try to carve out some quite time at night to create new work. There's something so magical about being in the studio alone, late at night (most likely when others are asleep), and I have my playlist going, candles lit, a glass of wine, and it's just me and the canvas. It's something I cherish so much.

Your process and the way you add texture to your pieces is beautiful. What is your process like when you have a blank canvas?

I'm really big on texture and added layers. When you look at one of my pieces I want you to get lost in it. I want you to notice something new each and every time. The majority of my pieces typically consists of 4-6 layers before they are finished. So for example, I paint a motif and then add a textural layer. Then I paint on top of that layer. Then I white wash that layer, and then create a whole other layer of texture on top of that, etc. The process continues until I have a piece that feels intricate and has a sense of depth and dimension.

The majority of my work consists of

A wide variety of styles and motifs that are still cohesive and evoke a sense of the past while still feeling modern and current. From my portrait pieces to my abstracts on canvas, this is an element I always try to achieve.

Where do you draw inspiration for new pieces? Travel, books, you've talked a little about loving history.

Everything with me is about conjuring up emotions. When I create a new piece it's about creating a mood. So when I'm inspired by something (a city, another piece of art, a film, a color) it's typically rooted in how that specific something made me feel and how I want to translate that back on canvas.

Favorite artists?

Agnes Martin, Cy Twombly, Francis Bacon, Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, Alberto Giacometti, Henry Moore.

How do you see your work evolving in the future?

I don't know, and that's part of the beauty. The evolution is inevitable but what helps shape and mold it is still unknown and I love that. That's actually what keeps me hungry and on my toes. I'm always thinking, "what's next", and I'm always studying everything I see and experience in hopes that maybe something will spark that new found inspiration.

Photography by Josh Young


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