Our interview today is with Chicago based artist Josh Moulton. Josh began painting from an early age and specializes in photo-realism and urban landscapes. I reached out to Josh because I have always been fascinated with the life of an artist. I have a romantic view of what it would be like to be an artist – days spent sitting in a studio surrounded by paints, paletts and easels unleashing your inner Van Gogh, creating masterpieces that would be adored by the masses. What I wanted to talk to Josh about is the reality of making a career in art. While it is all very well creating the paintings, in order to make a living, an artist needs to have the ability to sell their product. I talked to Josh to find out more.
I assume like most artists you started painting really young. At what point did you realize you wanted to make a career as an artist ?
Yes, I started drawing and painting at the age of 3 or so. I was lucky enough to have access to everything because my father was a professional artist and he had his studio in our home. There was a little easel set up for me to paint, while I looked over at him at his drawing board. He would let me do my thing, but would always offer up suggestions… teach me about composition, color schemes, perspective, etc.
I realized in high school it was what I wanted and needed to pursue in college. I received a 4 year art scholarship to Lake Forest College, and majored in art there. I’ve been painting full-time as my only profession for 10 yrs now. I opened my own gallery 4 yrs ago. I used to be represented by galleries around the country.
Being an artist and making a successful business out of it are two different things, what advice would you give to artists hoping to make a career in the art world ?
This is true. I always hear this from people, who are kind of surprised to see me doing it. They always say “oh my aunt is an artist, but she does not know how to sell or have the business savvy”. I understand what they are saying, but at the same time, I kind of scoff at this excuse. My view is that if you are TRULY committed to it, as one might be to being a doctor or lawyer, and if what you create is TRULY of the highest quality (subject choices, actual painting ability, etc), then people will buy and want your work.
I really don’t think luck plays a role or it all has to do with being great at marketing your work to the public (although this is a very very important thing. The way you approach getting it in front of people). For me it really boils down to being extremely committed to the work you produce, working very hard and not being lazy or a procrastinator and the product has to be something that people really want to spend their hard earned money on. People do not have to be art experts to know the difference between a good or bad painting.
Tell us about a typical day?
I wake up around 5:30 – 6 am each morning and help get my daughters ready for school/the day. From 8 – 10 am I watch my 2 yr old daughter until our babysitter comes. Then, I head to the gallery to start working, either painting, running errands, delivering art, getting supplies, etc.
I close up shop around 6 pm and head home. Then I do it all over again 🙂
What are the challenging aspects of your job that people might not be aware of ?
The most challenging part for me is walking the line between being the artist who is friendly to every customer, and then being the guy who has to call/email/etc. these customers to collect the monetary commitments when I need them. People tend to take an artist for granted sometimes, as if what they are getting is a luxury, not a necessity, so when they want to pay, they will.
Unfortunately, I wear all of the hats for my business so when I need them to pay for what they want, that is when I need it!!
You paint scenes from Chicago a lot. Are urban landscapes especially inspiring to you ?
They are… I love architecture. I love producing images for NYC, San Fran, etc…. But people here really want Chicago scenes.
After 15 yrs, I have pretty much covered it all here. I have a ton of images on file to work from that I have taken over the years.
I am inspired by everything really. As long as it has a strong and interesting composition, and interesting subject matter. I enjoy making people think with my images.
Thank you Josh for giving such an insightful interview. I love the part about being authentic and truly committed to art. To see more of Josh’s work go to www.joshmoultonfineart.com
Josh Moulton Fine Art Gallery
2218 N Clark St,
Chicago IL 60614
Tel: (773)592 3434
Check out the other interview in this series Shara Mcglinn of Onyx boutique