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Artist Joshua Peters Tells the 3 P's: Personal Training, Painting, and Pop-Culture

Updated: Jan 4, 2020

I love learning about art culture. If you're currently living in NYC, you see art every day. I had the pleasure to speak with painter and personal trainer Joshua Peters on his journey with painting, personal training, and pop-culture.

1. Let's talk about your passion for art. When did it all start?       

JP: I've always been an escapist. I grew up digging comic books, fantasy novels, and sci-fi movies. I used to draw and trace those characters and want to be them. I think drawing my INTERNAL WORLD was the first step toward self-actualization for me by being able to draw.


2. A lot of people have jobs that are not related to what they went to school. Was this the case for you? Did you major in something else that you want to share? 

JP: So I did study Painting and Drawing in college.

3. People, who have a passion for art have a favorite artist? Who is your favorite artist?   

JP: I feel like I'm standing on a 3 story pile of favorites. Ok, my shortlist? Jenny Seville, Thomas Hart Benton, Kadir Nelson, Josh Keys, and Mark Bradford. But that's just horrible because I feel compelled to include Gaudi, Prince, Savion Glover, Hideo Kojima, and Lena Waithe.

4. What was the feeling like when someone wanted to purchase your artwork? Can you tell us about it?

JP: You know it's funny how lucky I've been. I have had some really crazy moments. The first big painting I ever did sell. I say big it was like a 3-ft square. It was a half-finished legit under-painting only. And this lady wanted to pay me $400 for it. Three winged men in flight on a black background. A $40 print, a $400 or a $4,000 painting do the exact same thing to me - I'm elated that this person wants to live with a special thing I've created. There's a bittersweet chord because I'm completely INCAPABLE of making a thing twice. But it just gives me a great feeling that I found someone that sees/wants to see what I'm showing them. No one buys painted sneakers anymore, I used to sell 10-12 custom painted sneakers a year but in our Hypebeast culture where people go to insane levels to out normcore themselves, that has dried up a little.

5. You mentioned that nobody wants to buy painted sneakers anymore. Why do you assume that? Is it because of the internet? 

JP: I do feel like my painted sneakers aren't moving like they used to & that actually hurts me. I got really used to selling 10-12 custom painted sneakers a year. I do feel like blame the internet for that to some degree. But I will say the I've been steadily selling more paintings in the last 4 years than at any time in my life. Where my custom kicks sort of kept me in paints from 2004-2015... It's wonky because folks are inundated with images now and it's a slippery slope from "I've seen a lot and I'm savvy for it" to a knee-jerk "seen that before" dismissive response. In the digital age, you have to do something truly special to create people to pause. Paintings that do that are what you have to do in this POST-SOCIAL age.

6. Being in NYC means you need to have a side hustle to follow your passion? What is your side hustle as an artist? 

JP: I have been both a part and a full-time personal trainer since my second year of college. And I used to feel embarrassed about the whole side hustle thing when I first arrived in New York. Or to be more accurate, I didn't want art folks to think I wasn't serious about being an artist cause I have a disparate health and fitness gig. Like it's stupid but I'd go through great pains to keep the two worlds separate. But at the off-handed suggestion of a curator (Larry Ossai-Mensah) a few years back I now really look for ways to meld my hustles together. 

7. You're a personal trainer. What is your favorite part of the body you focus on more in your workouts and why? 

JP: I do focus on the "whole organism" as a whole with my training programs. But if I'm being 100% honest, I just love to Squat. Snatching, squatting, running quarters on the treadmill - I am and always have been a leg man. 

8. What is your future goals as an artist? 

JP: I'm really engaged in three things at the same time. The first two are connected & involve building up my new studio and creating video content of me working as a vehicle to connect DIRECTLY to the public. I don't mean followers or subscribers (although I'm not averse to that) but I'm thinking other artists, creatives and patrons. My frequency is super-high, Man. And I'm done waiting around for a gallery, an art institution or so-called "insider's" blessing. I'm making the space that everyone wants to have or be a part of and am cool growing a small core group of cats that are ready to make dope shit in an indy "let em catch up" type-o'-way. That leads to the next thing I'm working on: I'm changing the way I paint. Oh yeah, like there's a more gestural, stripped-down less chromatic place I'm trying to get to. So my number one goal right now is literally trying to re-invent how I arrive at a finished piece. I've had moments where I've kind of nailed it a few times since 2017. So my main goals are aesthetic. A desire to be more honest and brutal with my marks. I'm scared as fuck. 

Make sure to follow Joshua on Instagram.

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