A Conversation with Josh Vanover

Born and raised in North Carolina, designer/illustrator Josh Vanover has established a dense

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Born and raised in North Carolina, designer/illustrator Josh Vanover has established a dense and foreboding visual language. Often working in black and white, Vanover masterfully fuses hand-drawn elements with stark photographic source materials. He is an unfettered manipulator of original and found imagery; his style informed by an encyclopedic knowledge of visual sources ranging from cult film footage, erotica and video stills to cartoons, war photography and even psychedelia. Vanover’s signature style and workman-like approach have attracted the attention of clients such as Nike, Stussy and Hennessy, and mostly recently having done album artwork for the likes of Linkin Park.

Los Angeles… is a beautiful place, I really dig the whole scene. So much history and culture in LA, it’s overwhelming. I love the vibe… you feel like you could see anything at anytime – good or bad. Me being born and raised in North Carolina coming out to LA is like visiting another planet. LA is where the magic happens right? Where people come to live the dream and where the dreams die. These are the streets that Bukowski walked, this is where Sam Cooke got shot up, and on and on. No other place like it on Earth. I get a lot of LA love, way more than any where else, not sure why but the feeling is mutual.

Black and white… is what most of my work is to this point. But definitely not what I’m limited to. I have styles for days that I’m sitting on, lots of fresh styles I’m playing with, full of color.

Making art for myself vs. making art for somebody else… has been the same so far. I approach both in pretty much the same way. I’ve been very fortunate that the clients I draw for tell me to pretty much just to do my thing. I have been blessed.

SURU… is a nice little streetwear spot located on Melrose Ave. It’s also where my first solo show will be held. I’ll be showing a variety of experimental works on May 5, 2011.

Nike… keeps me busy. Back when I was in art school and I knew without a doubt this is what I wanted to do for a living, I had a list of dream jobs and Nike was at the top. So it’s pretty surreal for me to be working with them on a regular basis.

Graphic arts… seem to be over-saturated right now. With the internet and all the programs available everyone thinks that they’re a designer, artist or illustrator. But by the same token with all the advancements in technology it has also enabled individuals like myself make a living doing this.

HFCC is… the mighty Hell Fire Canyon Club. A brand from the mind of Danny Boy O’Connor (House of Pain/La Coka). I got hooked up with Danny through a mutual friend, we spoke and he told me what he was trying to do with his brand. I really dug the whole vibe and told him I’d be down to contribute to what he was doing.

My next project… will be my best project. I always try to have the attitude to push my next project further than my last one. It always keeps my work fresh and progressive. I’m always experimenting and looking forward to what I can cook up next.

Music in my creative output… is very important. The music I listen to is pretty diverse – but still mostly hip-hop influenced. You will catch me on some GRINDERMAN shit one day to some old Nas, to Merl Haggard. Hahaha. I’m all over with my music and I’d like to think it reflects in my work.

I love… first and foremost my wife and kids. But other than that, I love…creativity, all forms: music, art, technology. I love seeing people pushing the boundaries of what is possible. Human creativity is a beautiful thing, from cavemen scribbling on walls to launching people into space in a relative shortly period of time – it’s endless.

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