Those Aren’t Photographs? Artist Josh Talbott, an Interview

Lego Figure Painting by Josh Talbott

Lego Figure Painting by Josh Talbott

The first thing you notice when looking at Josh Talbott’s amazing photorealistic paintings of Lego’s and Lego mini figures is that he’s a master of light. These joints jump off the page, inviting you to take a second look, leaving you wondering how the hell  he did it. And he’s prolific, cranking out paintings faster than I write. Our chat is below.

Who are you and where are you from?

My name is Josh Talbott and I’m originally from Lawrenceville , GA.  Though “who Are you” is the eternal question and could be answered any number of ways.  I’m a fine artist or painter. I try and avoid the pomp that “fine artist” suggests.

Yes, you are correct and a wise one grasshopper. I ask that question all the time in interviews and like to see how people handle it. So getting back. Did you always want to be an artist even as a kid?

I have recently realized that I have recreated my grandmothers house from when I was young. I’m always cooking something, my tomato garden is insane and I spend all my time in one type of art coma or other, namely collage or painting. It was nothing I ever really aspired to.  It just was. It fit for me. I also don’t believe in talent. I ENJOYED painting , and Legos, and playing. and so I did. The same is true today. And through all the time spent in those endeavors your skill with them increases.

I’m going to get to the Lego paintings, but that begs the question, were you completely self-taught or did you go to art school?

I’m self taught…my typing sucks.

Ha ha ha. That’s alright man.

I was taught to dig, and shape swimming pools, my family business. Spacial awareness!  Followed by martial arts. Spacial awareness. It shows up for me everywhere.  These days it’s not so much what I’m painting but color and Spacial relationships.  I imagine its similar to reading music.

I’m sure, something I can’t do well. Read music that is. I take it you were a big fan of Legos. I know I still am, and if I had the money I’d have a huge layout spread somewhere. And I wonder why I’m divorced. What initially inspired you to do Lego Mini fig paintings?

I was living in New Orleans and working /living with a couple of other artists. It was a very rich time, before Katrina. I was doing a series of paintings of bugs as jazz musicians and I needed something to balance the composition. A Lego of course. I was painting the red block and its crowning little attachers and the idea hit me like a ton of bricks.

I did several of the Lego paintings but was still a little idealistic and was afraid to be pigeon holed as “THE LEGO GUY” and so i put the idea on the back burner. And suffered massive peer preassure.

Phil and Ocean, my life long friends from that time had been leaning on me to return to the lego people for all this time, recently I landed a lot of mural work that kept me busy for over a year and when it was over I needed a new project. The lego paintings became a feasible option. Partly because I am so happy where i am now. I have a home for the first time in my life.  I am still doing other work but I must admit I am really enjoying the lego paintings.  Interacting with kids and with the kids inside the grown ups has been really good for me

So stability allowed you to return to something that you truly wanted to do. How do you decide on the Lego “models” and environment for the paintings? Do you draw it out independently or do you use actual Lego models?

Stability is still sought! I have trajectory and thats a start. I almost always work from photos.  I set up my models and pay attention to what comes out of it. The progression of ideas is my favorite part. The honey bear “Man-Eater” is a perfect example. I was doing the painting “You Can’t Win, Darth” from a photo of my neighbors kitchen and the honey bear was in the background. He clearly needed his own painting. Incidentally, I’m not done with the honey bear. I have other adventures in mind for him.

That is a good one. I’d like to see other honey bear adventures! What I find amazing about your Lego paintings is the amount of detail and photo realism that you bring to each piece. How long does it take you to create such cool stuff?

Any where from a day to a week on each one. Though I just began doing the lego paintings in May. So I have done a ton of work in a short time. I’m working like a slave right now.  I have two I finished today and two more than i have yet to get good photos of.  I began three more last night. one that should be done tomorrow and a more elaborate composition that will be several days I have so many ideas.

Wow. I didn’t realize you had done all of that work in such a short period. Thats nuts. Its like you’re on a “hitting streak,” just knocking them down.

And thats not all. I have had commission work and other odds and ends.  I had a dear friend who recently inspired me. We have been very close and watching him grow has been instrumental in my own growth. He took stock of what he was really doing with his time and then fully applied himself to those things. The cool thing is that it has led him to where he was so anxious to get. I have applied the same idea. I was kinda wondering what in the hell i was doing with my life and then I took a look and then jumped in with both feet.

As a writer, I totally understand being inspired by someone’s growth. Well, since this is a Comic heavy website, did you ever read comics and if so, what did you read?

I am ashamed to say that I have not read much in the way of comic books.  I love to read. In fact that is one thing that has suffered recently due to my heavy workload.  If I’m sitting still these days , I’m pushing paint. I love the framework for narrative visual artwork.  Narrative work is what I aspire to.

That leads right to my last question. What would you like to accomplish next?

My favorite book is Moby Dick.

Moby Dick huh. Melville can be intense.

Well, Accomplish is a tricky idea,  I dont mess with much, I find comfort is viewing it all as process. Melville is magic.
This project will lead to new ideas and then other project and so on. As Kurt Vonnegut would say.  I have some really elaborate lego paintings  that I have in mind for the near future and the potential to go a bit larger.  I have a title for you “In the land of the blind the one eyed man is king” done with legos …. I have been building up my props for this painting since May.

Sounds like you have a bright future ahead. Where can the fans contact you and find your work?

I’m talking to several galleries along the california coast But you can always find me at www.joshtalbott.com or in my tomatoe garden here in Los OSos, ca.

Well man, it was good to chat with you. Thanks for the interview.

Thank you for your time and interest. I hope it’s helpful to us both.

Andre Owens has been hiding in Los Angeles for over 15 years, a former Director of Photography, he now writes and publishes the cosmic comic, Force Galaxia. He is currently writing and plans to produce a webseries, The Psychedelic Detective. In his free time he enjoys long form television, sushi and a celebration of all things 420. His name’s not Supergreen!

Cosmic Mutiny
By Andre Owens

“Those aren’t photographs? Artist Josh Talbott, an interview.”

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