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Interview with an Artist: Josh Agle of Shag

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Interview with an Artist: Josh Agle of Shag

This week we had a great opportunity to interview artist Josh Agle, AKA Shag. Agle is known for his vibrant artwork and sold out exhibits all over the world. His art is now being used in collaboration with K. Bell Socks for inspiration in the fall 2017 line.

In the midst of his busy schedule, Agle took the time to answer a few questions for us!

Q: So Josh, when did you first get into art?

A: I’ve been drawing and painting since I was a little kid. When I was eight, I entered one of my drawings in a weekly contest that the local newspaper held and it was published. My grandfather was a successful commercial artist, so it was ingrained into my family that one could make a living doing art. But it wasn’t until I was in college studying business that I decided I wanted to make art a career. I changed my major to Fine Arts and never looked back.

Q: How did you come up with the name Shag?

A: In the late ‘80s, I played in an alternative rock band which was signed to a label and set to release an album. It was understood that I would do the art and design for the record, but I thought it would look unprofessional if the record had my name on it as both a band member and the album cover artist, so I was determined to come up with a pseudonym. I simply took the last two letters of my first name, Josh, and the first two letters of my last name, Agle, and came up with “Shag.” I liked the word - it had several meanings and was easy to remember.

Q: When faced with so many art aesthetics, time periods, and genres, how did you land on this particular style?

A: I was a commercial illustrator and graphic designer for about eight years before I started my career as a Fine Artist, and I would work in whatever style the client wanted or I felt was appropriate for a project. At the same time, I was working on my own art, which was influenced by a certain commercial illustration style from the 1950s and 1960s - this sort of cubist, flattened, abstracted style that was associated with jazz album covers and educational films. I wanted to manipulate that style and bring it into a fine art context and to say things with the art that wouldn’t have been said back then. I also pumped up the color palette. I had learned color theory in college and wanted to use that in my own work.

Q: When you did illustrations in college for Forbes, Time, Entertainment Weekly, and other publications, was there a particular illustration that you were most proud of?

A: I hardly ever think about those illustrations anymore - sometimes I’ll come across one and cringe a little bit because my style has developed a lot more since then. If I had to pick a favorite, it would probably be some of the work I did for Entertainment Weekly, where I had to figure out how to draw celebrities in my style and still make them look like themselves. I remember being really challenged by trying to illustrate Justin Timberlake and Cameron Diaz.

Q: What was the biggest challenge in creating a 100-foot-long mural in the Georgia Aquarium?

A: The biggest challenge of that project was trying to find enough variation in sea life so I didn’t repeat myself! That’s a lot of wall space to cover (the wall was about 20 feet high as well) and I had to keep finding new fish and other sea creatures to add to the mural.

Q: Is there anything new that you are working on that we can be looking forward to?

A: I just found out that 20th Century Fox is going to let me create art to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the original Planet of the Apes movies. I’ve included characters from those films in my fine art from time to time, but never officially until now. I'll be releasing prints, clothing, and other merchandise, which will debut at Comic Con in 2018.

Q: When you played in a band, what instrument did you play? What was the name of your band? What kind of music did you play?

A: I played guitar and did a little singing. My first (real) band was called The Swamp Zombies, which played folk and rockabilly influenced alternative Rock. I was also in a band called The Tiki Tones, and another called The Huntington Cads, which were instrumental surf music. The Huntington Cads just reunited this summer to play a music festival in Italy.

Q: And last but definitely not least, what’s your sock drawer look like?

A: I have a lot of socks in all different shapes and colors, including a lot of souvenir socks from places I’ve been like Rome, Sydney, Tokyo, and London. They’re fun conversation starters. If someone sees the Sydney Opera House on my socks, they’ll tell me about their trip to Australia, or ask if I’ve been.


Want more? Check out Josh’s work here. And see our new Shag line of socks here!