There’s something decidedly rock-and-roll about Josh Agle’s artwork. Better known as Shag, he creates pieces that are a mid century fantasy come to life, where all the world’s a swinging cocktail party and painfully-cool people dance and lounge poolside. You can almost hear the bossa nova or the early sounds of the Beatles playing in the background.
It’s not surprising that there’s this almost-musical element to Josh’s work, since he got his start in the record industry.
Josh worked as a commercial illustrator and graphic designer in the record industry in the late 1980s and early ’90s, designing album covers for punk, surf, garage and rockabilly bands like The Brian Setzer Orchestra, the Sex Pistols and Smashmouth. He also began showing his artwork.
He says, “I had my first art show in 1996, where I was given one wall in a small coffeehouse in Santa Monica to display my work. I didn’t think anyone would buy the paintings, so I tried to paint something I would be happy to hang on my own wall.”
Josh painted tiki bar interiors in a flat, simplified style that was predominant in the 1950s and ’60s, and lo and behold, all of his paintings sold.
He continued to create paintings with flat areas of color and Cubist-inspired shapes, based on jazz and lounge album covers and old magazine illustrations. He says that over time, his artwork has become more centered on real experiences, places and situations from his own life in California.
A Love for Mid Century
Josh has always had an affinity for the 1950s and ’60s. Early in his career, he furnished his first apartment with Mid Century Modern pieces. “I wanted my apartment to look like a bachelor pad from an old Playboy magazine,” he says. He decorated his entire apartment for $200, eventually collecting furniture by Arne Jacobsen and Charles and Ray Eames.
Today, Josh has shown his work in the U.S. and in Tokyo, Sydney, Sao Paolo, Paris, London, Stockholm, Berlin and Rome. He’s currently working on new product lines for his Shag Stores, with retail galleries in Palm Springs and West Hollywood.
He says, “I love mid century design for two opposing reasons. First, it has a high-minded, philosophical devotion to making the world a better place, to improving humankind’s future through good design and to raising everyone’s taste level. Second, it has a kitschy, romantic side that wants to see everyone wearing silver jumpsuits and riding around in flying cars.”
For more on the artist, visit SHAG.COM.