In Conversation with Joshua Bagley on Dreams cover photo


In Conversation with Joshua Bagley on Dreams

by Jeff Davis

Joshua Bagley is an artist from New Hampshire. With an education in aerospace engineering, he has been exploring generative art since 2020. His passion for generative art stems from the continuous problem-solving and explanatory methods involved, and the complete freedom to create anything at all. We spoke about his transition into code-based art and his upcoming Art Blocks project Dreams.
Jeff Davis: Hi Josh, great to meet you! How did you first get into programming?
Joshua Bagley: Art wasn’t really a huge part of my life until I started learning how to code. In the spring of 2020, I started teaching myself Python for my engineering job. Programming never seemed like it was something I would be interested in, so at first, I was hesitant. But the more I learned, the more I realized how much I loved the problem solving, structure, and freedom that came with it. Around the same time, I had also become interested in computer sims—things like cellular automata, physarum, differential growth. The idea of complex emergent behaviors from simple rules was really cool, and I realized I could probably recreate some of those things with the code I was learning. Once I figured out how to turn those lines of code into visuals, I was hooked.
Joshua Bagley, Digital Paint Mixing, n.d..jpeg
Joshua Bagley, Digital Paint Mixing, n.d.
JD: And then when did you start considering your coding practice as an artistic practice?
JB: Soon after I started making these code-based visuals, I found the term “generative art,” and realized there was a whole history and community behind this idea of code-driven art. I started following generative artists on Instagram and sharing my own Python experiments. Eventually I learned about Processing, bought a book on it, and really started to deep dive and learn about this concept. I was drawn to the idea that I could write code that could visually create something that would surprise me. While I am still relatively new to art in general, my process has evolved a lot over the last year. I think the biggest thing is how I look at what I want to make. Instead of making something that’s solely visually pleasing, I want to make something that’s also technically interesting. The more I learn about coding and generative art, the more I become fascinated by the techniques behind the compositions, and the hidden structure that isn’t obvious.
JD: You mentioned the amazing community around generative art. How has that influenced you?
JB: One of the best things that has come from this is being able to have discussions with artists that I admire. Being able to really talk with, and even become friends with these people that inspired me to make my own art, is truly one of the best things to have come from this adventure.
JD: And then how did you discover NFTs/crypto art?
JB: Late last year, like most artists, I started receiving messages from people suggesting I should look into NFTs. At the time, I was attempting to turn my hobby into a career. I had lost my engineering job during the pandemic, and on top of that, I was finding magnitudes more satisfaction in creating and sharing my art than I did in any previous job. So, the monetary potential of NFTs was enticing. I tried selling my artwork on various platforms, and was somewhat successful, but I felt out of place. It didn’t seem like generative art had really been able to make itself known in the sea of digital art. But this of course changed when I learned about Art Blocks. After seeing other artists I followed have such great success on here, it seemed like the golden ticket to turning my hobby into a career. Of course, it’s not all about the money. It was also an amazing opportunity to finally get my artwork out there on someplace that wasn’t social media, and to be a part of what feels like a new wave of generative art. The more I learn about NFTs, the more I realize how powerful they are for this field. I’m excited to see where it goes.
Joshua Bagley, Dreams #246, 2021..png
Joshua Bagley, Dreams #246, 2021.
JD: Well, that’s a great segue: talk to me about the inspiration for your Art Blocks project Dreams.
JB: Fun colors and funky shapes. I wanted to make something that was simple yet contained a lot of hidden complexity. I especially wanted to create static compositions that felt alive. And of course, seeing how much variety I could create while maintaining a core style. This was one of the best parts about this project. Even after months of development, I still find myself being surprised by the outputs.
JD: What should collectors look for in your project as the series is revealed?
JB: There are going to be many emergent styles and traits to find, beyond the ones that are defined, so I am really excited to see what kinds of collections are made. Look for the way the color and structure combine to create a story in each output.
Joshua Bagley, Collagen Fibers, 2020.png
Joshua Bagley, Collagen Fibers, 2020.
JD: Anything else people should know to better understand your art?
JB: My favorite method of creating art is to take a core idea or technique, learn how to do it the right way, and then break it apart. Experimentation is a large part of everything I make. I also love to find inspiration in nature, so I usually try to make art that feels organic.
JD: Really looking forward to the fun drop! What’s the best way for people to connect with you?
JB: Instagram is where I’m most active, I’m also on Twitter, and my website is a constant work in progress!
First published on 15 June 2021: In Conversation with Joshua Bagley

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