Josh Conrad is a multi-disciplinary artist specializing in 3D and Augmented Reality (AR) art from the Stó꞉lō Nation based in Sumas Territory, British Columbia. He currently resides in the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples – Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), Stó:lō and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Wautut) and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Mus. Self-taught in 3D, Josh’s innovative work provides Canadians with physical allows you to connect and interact with digital art in creative ways beyond the confines of space.
How did you get started working in the augmented reality space?
My time as a screen printer sparked an interest in design and printmaking. I went to art school to complete a digital design program, and later I even started a publishing collective, a community of publishers sharing their work. But my career path took its first big turn when I had a close friend. 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 day job. I’ve created album covers, videos and GIFs using bubble shapes, colors and abstract visuals. During my freshman year, Aaron mentored me and I connected with other people in the art community to learn more about their work. My advice to anyone interested in this field is don’t be afraid to reach out to people whose work you admire.
When my studio mates and I started experimenting with AR and mural work, my career path took off for the second time. We started working together to transform physical art into 3D. We enjoyed turning some of their murals into 3D objects and then turning them into augmented reality pieces to post on social media as AR becomes available. This allowed us 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 by learning from the ground up and finding resources where possible, esp MetaSpark. It gave me another opportunity to be digitally involved and share not only my work, but the work of those in my community. I helped them bring their art into the homes of their viewers so that people could interact with the shapes and textures in their spaces. This helped them create personalized interactions and engaging content.
What have been some career highlights?
I’ve worked with nonprofits on amazing projects that align with my personal values. The ability to transform artwork from physical to digital and empower meaningful causes in action has allowed me to make a difference and put purpose to the skills I’ve learned. This collaboration shows how art is an important tool to support social movements and how AR can be used to spread important messages not only in an engaging way, but on a larger scale than ever before.
Earlier this year, one of my very good friends, Priscilla Yu, led me to support a project to promote civic engagement in Canada. We co-created a beautiful, animated piece based on his artwork we have become AR. In the summer I worked together Mo Thunder to create an immersive experience for works of art that celebrate water and the environment. Bringing Mo’s picture to life online was so meaningful. Then last month I collaborated with the Orange Shirt Society to develop an AR effect National Truth and Reconciliation Dayinspired 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 because it is housed in a gallery or exhibition space. We can make this art available on social platforms so more people can engage with these artworks and stories.
It makes our voices heard and allows our culture to be seen not only at the community level, but globally. It allows all of our voices to be raised and our artworks to be raised and shared in an easy, fun and engaging way. I think it will attract not only our youth, but other people and organizations and increase interest in our history, cultures and history.
Learn more about Josh Instagram.