Hello There! My name is Joe Vaux. I was born and raised on Long Island, New York, by two amazing fine artists/Art Professors, Richard Vaux and Sandra Benny. Growing up, I was surrounded by art supplies and talent, but I didn’t consider a career in art until my junior year in high school, when I decided I wanted to work on movies like Star Wars. With the help of my parents, I built a portfolio applied to Syracuse University’s Art program. I graduated four years later with a BFA in Illustration. I had some great professors but none that really trained me to paint. I attribute all of those skills to hard work, observation and the time growing up, watching my folks create their colorful masterpieces. My art has taken a very different path than my parents but the passion is the same.
Over the last twenty years, my paintings have shown around the world, but mostly in my new home town, Los Angeles. By day, I work as a Director on the animated show, Family Guy. I’ve worked in animation for the past 23 years. This work has provided me with the ability to provide for my family, as well as, continue to create my personal art without economic needs. Having this day job has also kept me surrounded by incredible artistic talent that constantly inspires.
As an artist, I obviously have been influenced by others, but there are few idols that stand above the rest. Heironymous Bosch, the band Rush, and my parents. I actually don’t look at Bosch’s work much, but the impact and energy in those paintings is my jam. The music of Rush has been a constant companion since I was 14. Music has always been a sweet companion while I paint, but Rush has been a dominant force over the decades. My folks, although working in much different styles than myself, planted the early seeds of color usage and work ethic that I needed to achieve what I have achieved. For that, and their love and support, they will always be my greatest idols.
Currently, I’m working on several new paintings for a solo show this summer at Copro Gallery in Santa Monica, Ca. (www. coprogallery.com) I’m looking to have about 10 new paintings by that time.
Joe, as an artist do you use irony to communicate? Do you consider it more useful than direct awareness?
I believe the sub- consciously I use irony from time to time. More often I prefer the blunt, in your face, approach to communication. This approach has always been more satisfying.
At present we see many governments acting with irony and absurdity, with profound consequences. And it seems to be in the hands of the idols to mark the new course of the societies. Do you feel that responsibility above? As you take?
The world is at a real pivotal point. We need to drastically change the way we consume and reconsider our place in this world. I think religion and economics have trained humans to think that the Earth is here for humans, to be used without grace and respect for the other inhabitants. We have been given Eden, and we are slowly ripping Eden into shreds. It’s time for people to unite under the planet and protect her. As an American, I feel most guilty. You can see how the past four years has exemplified this country’s selfish nature. It makes me sick in the stomach. I would like to think that we are on a better path, for now, after the election, but I can be a real pessimist. (a flaw of mine)
The ability to express through surrealism and science fiction is usually tied to people with a broad sense of observance. Do your works pose other universes and organisms, or are they an interpretation of our societies?
My painting style, originally, was an adaption of the energy captured in my sketchbooks. Often a painting will be inspired by a sketch, a walk in the neighborhood, a news item, a book I’m reading or remember, or sometimes just life at home. Visually, I’m attracted to the villain, the monster and the trail of destruction those characters leave behind. A lot of my work focuses on more dire moments in my fantasy world, but it’s not exclusive. I like to inject some silliness and whimsy to my worlds as well. Comedy can save us, or at least get us through the slow decline.
¿What are the 2 best heroic acts you have witnessed?
Heroic acts I’ve witnessed. That’s tough. I think watching the good people of the world navigate this Covid shit has been pretty inspiring, my kids included. I can’t remember any specific moment, but anytime a human or animal helps another creature survive tragedy are moments that restore my faith.
What are your 3 favorite heroes and 3 worst villains in today’s society?
Heroes: Animal Activists, Doctors and Nurses, climate activists.
Villans: Climate change deniers, greed, entitlement.
What are those attributes as an illustrator and as a person that make you a hero?
I’m no hero. If my art is at least inspiring to a young artist, that’s as good as it will get for my artistic talents. The real work happens out in the world trying to improve our planet.
Acrylic on wood panel
This painting was inspired by a Metallica song. To me, it’s about the human consumption of our beautiful
Acrylic on wood panel
I did a series of paintings describing the epic clash of hand versus feet. I was thinking about the possibility
of body parts developing independently. At some later stage, Hand and foot unite and assimilate into the
bodies we inhabit today. It was an alternate theory of evolution(that I made up) that I thought was funny
Make your own wind
10”x14”ish (I can’t remember)
Acrylic on wood panel
The idea here was to be a self starter. Sometimes it’s hard to get motivated to create. You have to conquer a
lot of personal demons but it’s up to you to make your own destiny. Make your own wind.