Artist Series 002: Josh Pong
From Stüssy to Imanishi, Josh Pong has created a wide range of work that can't be missed throughout Toronto! With a focus on animation, his early roots in the street art scene and desire to push a concept further than most is something we can all learn from. As the second artist in our collaborative series, we came up with a few questions to understand what it takes to be a designer in our ever growing city!
For those unfamiliar with your work, tell us a bit about what got you into illustration?
I guess it was a natural progression from art school, reading comic books and looking at record covers in the 80’s and 90’s. Then I was heavily involved with Toronto’s graff scene as a teen, and artists like Mode 2 and Barry McGee were big influences. Later on in the early 2000s I started a t-shirt brand with my old partner Kenta Goto. That forced me to learn vector computer programs along with studying how best to mix type design and illustrations.
Has the growing evolution of Toronto’s art scene affected your work and lifestyle in any way?
I can’t say it’s changed lifestyle choices for me, but I do try to get out and see as much local artists whose work I like. All the art book fairs in the city are pretty great when they happen, and never disappoint.
Aside from this release, what project has brought you the most joy and creative freedom as an artist?
Honestly any brand I’ve started or collaborated on has been fun. I love working within a theme or have boundaries to push ideas against. That way there’s a vision and loose outline to try and achieve. I’ve been very lucky to have a great group of pals who like my work, and hit me up to design stuff.
What does a typical work session look like? Movie/music in the background or complete silence by candle light?
Never films, but I’d say 75% podcasts and the rest is music. At times If I’m in a groove and full tilt work mode - I’ll realize 2 hours have passed in silence, so I’ll fire up old episodes of Radio Lab.
After years in the industry, are there any tips or tricks you have to survive the freelance game?
I wish I did have some advice - but I’ve been fortunate with my diverse circle of friends who think of me when work comes up that fits within my wheelhouse. What I do take pride in is my ability to deliver a wide range of styles. One night I might be working on branding concepts - and the next day I’ll be tackling designs for a video game. Having worked in the Animation industry for almost 20 years - my career has trained me to be a chameleon. That’s the nature of that medium since I have to change styles for every series we work on. When it comes to my graphic design work, this training helps me problem solve with all the design short hands I’ve amassed. So stay loose - but aim for good taste in whatever lane you work in.Shop the L&F Artist Series