Artist of the Month: Joshua Tsang

Joshua Tsang is a multidisciplinary artist from Austin, TX. A recent McCallum High grad, Josh is enjoying a gap year in Australia, New Zealand, across the American West, and will soon be departing Austin for Mexico City. Since his graduation, he has released two zines. We met up with Josh in the East Austin home where he grew up to talk about the recent developments in his art life. 

Josh: I don’t put much effort into it. I’ve been applying to jobs and emailing people, planning for my Mexico trip, but other than that… it’s like whatever if people want to hang out. 

For the first month I’m staying at the Spanish School and just learning Spanish. After that, there are a couple of AirBnBs that might happen, but we don’t know yet? 

Jason: Like a Spanish school for people who aren’t from Mexico?

Jo: Yeah! They can set you up with a host family but I think it’s a little bit more expensive. You take 4-6 hours of class everyday. I’m excited. I hope I’ll be able to fill my schedule with things to do. Hope I won’t just be sitting there. 

Ja: What was your inspiration for the zines you’ve been making? 

Jo: Hmm. I guess I’m not really sure. I guess I just wanted to incorporate graphic design into the art I already do to keep my creative energy flowing while I’m on my gap year. People I was inspired by though? David Carson who is this OG graphic designer – he does a lot of deconstructed text which is really cool. I haven’t incorporated any of it yet but I’ve got some ideas in mind. I feel like going to McCallum, I was really inspired by my peers and so I just wanted to showcase some of their stuff. 

Ja: Do you feel like there is a big difference? While you’re in school studying art there’s a lot of overhead. Now you’re kind of on your own. How does that feel for you?

Jo: It’s good. Honestly the open-endedness is pretty challenging. I just do whatever I want and a lot of it turns out bad. Every once in a while you’ll get some gems and that’s what I usually throw in the zines. 

Up to this point, everything I’ve looked back at was kinda crappy. Even my first attempt – I mean it was alright.

Ja: I liked it!

tsang
Texture is like my kind of color. 
— joshua tsang

Jo: (laughs) Thanks! I feel like I’ve already grown a little bit. Working with color is surprisingly hard. I think I’m much more black and white. Shapes and such. (gestures toward a black and white print of his on the wall) I think I like the simplicity of black and white. I’m just drawn to it. I can’t get the colors right sometimes and it bothers me. I think I like textures a lot. Texture is like my kind of color. 

Ja: That reminds me a lot of that photo series you did when you were in … New Mexico?

Jo: I was in Zion! Utah. Yeah that’s true! I was talking to my friend the other day and he was talking about how his feelings are like these intangible textures. Life textures he calls them. He’s a drummer and he talks about how he experiences things with texture. 

That’s wild!

Jo: Yeah.

Ja: I mean I’ve seen some I guess, but I’ve never been around a lot of texture art. If you go to a museum and the art is about texture, everyone is just touching it, and the art is unsanitary. (laughs)

Jo: (laughs) It’s totally true!

Ja: I have seen one installation where there was just a bunch of large plastic jelly noodles hanging from the ceiling and people had to go in and spray clean it.

Jo: Was that at UT?

Ja: It was at the LACMA.

Jo: Way back, some time ago, there was an exhibit like that at UT. There was rubber tubing that looked like pasta coming down from the ceiling. People would tie knots in them and turn them into swings and stuff. It was all stretchy. It was pretty cool! 

Ja: Do you still keep in touch with your friends from McCallum so far? 

Jo: Just the good ones. I can’t keep in touch, there are too many of them! I went back to McCallum a few weeks ago and I only saw my art teachers. 

Ja: Do you see yourself foraying into other media?

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Jo: I want to try other art forms. I need to learn an instrument. I feel like everyone grows up playing an instrument or learning music. I just never did. I was in choir! (laughs) I want to dip my feet into film. Cinematography. I know photography pretty well, I feel like, by now. In terms of visual art? Sculpture would be cool – honestly everything. I have a huge appreciation for it all. I just want to try it all. I have a hard time picking old projects. If I don’t finish it then and there, it’s probably never going to get finished! (laughs)

Ja: I still haven’t finished that jacket we painted.

Jo: You know, I realized acrylic paint isn’t too good for fabrics. When the fabric is stretchy it’s even worse. I might do a hat. I have a couple of jackets left.

Ja: Would you ever consider getting into textiles?

Jo: I was talking to my friend yesterday, who was in fashion at UT. He recently dropped [the program]. I’ve heard from multiple people that the fashion industry is hard to make money in. 

Ja: Do you feel right now like you are interested in a career in art?

Jo:Yes. I think so. It’s pretty daunting. To say I want to do art as my career. But yeah. If I go to school for it, hopefully I can find a job doing art.  

Ja:What makes you say that you would want to do art, and what makes you say that it would be daunting. 

Jo: Hmmm. I don’t know! The reason it’s daunting is that having any passion turn into a job can take away from the passion. A lot of times it can become purely to make money. That’s the dauinting part. 

Ja: Do you have a favorite snack? 

Jo: Favorite snack… for a while it was Hot Cheetos. Hmmm yeah, Hot Cheetos. Chex Mix. Anything crunchy!

 

Joshua Tsang is a multidisciplinary artist from Austin, TX. You can follow his personal account here, and keep up with his gap year here. Jason sees the entire world through the lens of whatever podcast he listened to last. Photos by Eileen

Eileen Wu