Thank You, Josh Cook.
When Fashion Week wraps, each couture HQ has 2-3 days of clogged noses— even the best of us become depressive divas. This season's detox was especially hard, and desperate for a medicinal meme— I returned to Josh Cook. It was wonderful. Wanting to know how he can help us all, I asked him. In drawings and DMs, here it is: be human, be ugly, be branded.
Can you remember your first drawing?
I always used to draw as a kid, so I can’t exactly pin point my first drawing. I remember I drew a picture of Mickey Mouse and my mum got it printed onto a t-shirt for me and I wore it to death as a child. I still have that t-shirt somewhere.
You say your work is mainly focused on subjects in the human condition, how do you use your medium to channel such a complex topic?
People often find my characters quite awkward, as they seem quite distressed. Although to me, there's a sense of humor in awkwardness. I feel like we should laugh more about the things that make us feel uncomfortable. I also explore my own social anxieties in day-to-day situations through the people I draw. Sadly, people still treat mental health issues as though they are a taboo subject, but drawing really helps me communicate and express things I feel, that I often can't put into words or feel comfortable with discussing out in the open.
Sex and fashion are an important aspect in your drawings. What draws you to incorporate this into your work?
I try to explore people's identity in my work hence why I label them as characters. They all have their own personality. I think that generally, sex and fashion are two of the most desired things on earth, yet often the most unattainable. Everyone is in some sort of struggle to find happiness and those two things seem to be the temporary quick fixes to make someone feel better. In terms of incorporating fashion, the characters always wear knock-off fashion to reflect society's often elusive aspirations.
In your illustrations, man is always portrayed frightened and insecure. Is this a reference to a disturbed society?
To a certain extent, yes. The characters reference our need to fit in, but I don't necessarily think this is a new thing. Before the internet, we were still obsessed with class and outward appearances but more on a local level. Now it's just more apparent because you can judge someone's character and influence by looking at their Instagram feed. I find it fascinating how we're sometimes too scared to be ourselves because we fear that other people won't like us, so we're naturally more reserved online and offline.
How would you literally translate the word ‘ugly’?
Interesting, unique, beautiful.
What was the best thing you got out of Bristol?
There's so much diversity here and people are way less judgemental. It has a really strong creative atmosphere and supportive communities. All the different characters within the city are constantly inspiring me.