We had the good fortune of connecting with Joseph P. Gerges and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Joseph P., we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Risk. It’s the culprit of failure and the instigator of joy. Risk is my creative companion. It has accompanied me through the trials and tribulations of failure. Risk has greeted me in my fear of the “new” and has beckoned me to return to it time and again coaxing me onward. As I approach new challenges and push the limitations of my talents and expectations, risk spurns my ego. It slyly creeps into an idea, sneaking its way through from an earlier thought. It asks me to face it head on, to acknowledge the newness of an experience and embrace it. Risk is an opportunity to learn, to grow, to challenge myself and feel alive. I recall it egging me on at little league try-outs as a ten-year old, alone in a field of unknown faces. I remember it as a 16-year-old, new to painting, stepping into the discomfort of my first figure painting class. Risk burned hot in beads of nervous sweat the first time I stepped on to the campus of Art Center College of Design, doubting I belonged. Risk has spoken to me in whispers and at other times it has shouted aloud amidst confused tears. If I hear risk calling, it probably is a good sign I am on the right path.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
The drawing bug was always in my system as long as I can remember. I was an odd combination of athlete and artist. I played baseball, soccer, basketball, rode BMX, skateboarded, and then at 15 years old I shifted all that energy into art making. An opportunity to attend the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts opened up and it became a life changer for me. From there I attended Art Center College of Design and after graduating worked in animation. During my time in the animation industry, I would stay up late nights to prep for the next group show or opportunity that came my way. It finally became apparent that I wanted to create more than I wanted the monthly paycheck, so I went to grad school to continue my education and set aside time to explore. My path wasn’t a straight line by any means, and it still isn’t. Balancing being a single parent of two kids, being a full-time professor, and maintaining a studio practice is a difficult daily juggle that requires a lot of discipline and focus. I have some really productive weeks and other weeks that are not so productive. I’ve gotten much better at focusing my energy on what I can do on a given day so that everyone and everything that needs my attention get’s it. Sometimes that means sacrificing for my kids because they need my focus and energy. Maybe I’m in finals week and the studio work sits on the back burner for a bit. Learning how to focus on taking care of my own needs while balancing everything else has become an art in and of itself. My brand is my life. My work explores our human experiences as derived from my own life and observations. I survey the damage and the repercussions of our choices in hopes to excavate important dialogues that touch on life’s difficulties, challenges, its victories and triumphs–and I ask the viewer to face those questions head on.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Los Angeles is full of life and although Covid has put a bit of a damper on that, lately I’ve been hiking and mountain biking a ton. From Laguna Beach to the Santa Monica mountains, quarantine has given me and my kids an opportunity to get out of the house and into nature and remember why we live in California. There is great food everywhere, so that’s an easy option. Since art is always on my mind, I would set aside a couple of days to explore the world renowned gallery scene in LA and the surrounding areas. you can’t be in Los Angeles and not hit the beaches. My favorite is Laguna Beach, but Malibu and parts of Santa Monica are great. If you want to sight-see, Venice is the mecca for people watching!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Thanks to the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts for providing the perfect launching pad for my creative path. Since then it’s been my mentors, teachers, and fellow artists that have inspired and guided me along the way. Thank you also to my family, and especially my sister, who was always my sounding board throughout the years.
All photo of me working on a glass piece (with Buck) at Judson Studios should be credited to Judson Studios/Kyle J. Mickelson All others are mine- credit Joseph P. Gerges