Josh Conrad is a multi-disciplinary artist specializing in 3D and Augmented Reality (AR) art based in the Stó꞉lō Nation, Sumas Territory, British Columbia. He currently resides in the traditional, ancestral and indirect territories of the Coast Salish peoples – Sḵx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), Stó:lō and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) and xʷməθkʷm̓yamqʷʷməθkʷʷməusque) Self-taught in 3D creation, Josh’s innovative work takes Canadians beyond the boundaries of physical spaces. Aims to empower people to connect and interact with digital art in creative ways.
How did you start working in the augmented reality space?
My time as a screen printer sparked an interest in design and all things print. I went to art school to complete a digital design program and later I also started Print Collective, a community for printmakers to share their creations. But my career path took its first major turn when a close friend of mine, Aaron Kaufmanintroduced me to the field of 3D motion graphics, a form of graphic design also known as animation.
I fell in love with 3D motion graphics and working in this field became my every day. I was creating album covers, videos and GIFs using bubbly shapes, colors and abstract scenes. During my first year, Aaron mentored me, and I connected with others in the artistic community to learn more about their work. My piece of advice for anyone interested in this field – don’t be afraid to reach out to people whose work you admire.
My career journey took a second turn when my studio-mates and I started experimenting with AR and graffiti work. We started working together to turn physical art into 3D. We had fun turning some of their graffiti into 3D objects, and then eventually, as AR became more accessible, into augmented reality pieces to release on social media. This gave us the opportunity to make our art interactive and allow our audience to explore reality-altering art in a real environment and in real time.
I started developing my AR skills specifically with this by learning from the ground up and finding resources whenever I could Meta Spark. It provided another opportunity to engage digitally and share not only my work, but the work of my community. I’ve helped them bring their artwork into their audience’s homes, where people can interact with shapes and textures within their own space. This has helped them create more personalized interactions and engaging content.
What have been some career highlights?
I’ve worked on some amazing projects with non-profits that align with my personal values. The ability to transform artwork from physical to digital and amplify meaningful causes has given me the opportunity to make a difference, and give purpose to the skills I’ve learned. These collaborations show how art is an important tool to support social movements and how AR can be used to spread important messages not only visually, but on a larger scale than ever before.
Earlier this year, one of my very good friends, Priscilla Yu, I was brought to Canada to support a project promoting civic engagement. We co-created an amazing, animated piece based on her artwork We turned to AR. In the summer, he worked with me Mo Thunder to create one Immersive experience For their artwork, which celebrates water and the environment. Bringing Mo’s graffiti to life online made a lot of sense. Then last month, I helped develop an AR effect for the Orange Shirt Society National Day for Truth and ReconciliationInspired by the experiences of residential school survivor Phyllis (Jack) Webstad.
What role do you think immersive art plays in storytelling and reconciliation?
Immersive storytelling is the future. Static art is not always visible to everyone, as it is hosted in a gallery or exhibition space. We can bring that art to social platforms in an accessible way, so that more people can engage with these art pieces and stories.
This will allow our voices to be heard, and our culture to be seen not only at the community level, but by the world. It’s empowering all of our voices and sharing our artwork in such an easy, interesting and engaging way. I think it will attract not only our youth but also other individuals and organizations and it will increase more interest in our stories, cultures and histories.
Learn more about Josh Instagram.