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Jocelyn Josef: The Path of a Passionate Painter to Genre Innovator

By: Jana Ritter

From her humble beginnings in Oahu, Hawaii, Jocelyn Josef was born with an innate passion for paint that didn't exactly jive with her parents' dream of owning a home with white walls, but impressed her teachers enough to place her in the school's art program for gifted students.

Jocelyn Josef

By her senior year of high school, Josef's talent was also enough to stand out among hundreds of other student entries and award her partial tuition towards her college education at the Art Institute of Seattle. But it wasn't until a post graduation backpacking trek to Europe took Josef to the Picasso Museum in Paris, that she was struck with that light bulb moment and fully realized her destiny as a painter.

Following her heart, Josef has landed in the heart of West Hollywood where her passion for paint has evolved into her full-time work and play. Coining her own genre of Abstract Pop Squarisum, Josef's signature style has become recognized for vibrant colors and electric allure of paintings that dance with life. We had the opportunity to meet the busy artist and found her to be as captivating as the paintings filling her studio.

Your first love has always been painting, but what finally convinced you to take the plunge and pursue it as a career?

My goal was to always pursuing painting, but I was also a realist and knew that the starving artist thing doesn't always work out so well. Soon after I returned from Europe I was offered a job as an Event Developer at Duty Free/DFS and having a really strong work ethic allowed me to move up the corporate ladder pretty fast. I became an Account Executive for Lancôme and Benefits Cosmetics, and did very well working for a few companies in the healthcare industry as well.

During that time I was also still living in Hawaii and had been dating a Pro Skater whose father was a really gifted painter. One day I was over at the house and commented on how beautiful his painting was and how the brush strokes were simple yet elegant. I'm not sure how I offended him, but his reply was "...you could never paint like that!" I guess those words opened the door and those kind of challenges have continued to push me ever since.

What artists have influenced you most and how is your own personality reflected in your work?

I'm definitely most inspired by Picasso. Not only for his passionate style, but because when I first started to research him I read Fernande Olivier's book, Loving Picasso, and I really connected to his personal life struggle. My personality is both passionate and kind hearted as well, so I paint with my emotions. Sometimes I will be painting something based on a sad memory or tragic experience and I will just break down in tears. Or, if I'm painting something based on a happy memory, I get really excited and full of energy. I often find myself having a hard time letting pieces go because my emotional connection is so strong.

You've coined your own genre of art called "Squarism." How would you describe it?

I was very influenced by Picasso's style of "Cubism", which is abstract elements separated by thick black lines. "Squarisum" is my own style of painting where I use colors to describe the emotion and layers upon layers of squares to create the effect of emotional energy that dances right off the canvas.

Jocelyn Josef

You've also been getting a lot of notice for your Pop Collage Collection. Tell us about that.

My Collage style always focuses each piece on many elements of one specific subject and the themes are inspired by great influential artists and designers that have passed on. Icons like Warhol, Basquiat, Louis Vuitton, CoCo Chanel and Ann Wintours that still influence pop culture today. I use a combination of acrylic paint, fabric paint and tacky glue that produces a really definitive texture and unique shiny, matte finish.

Painting can be a very solitary profession, what keeps you inspired?

Painting is the love of my life, plain and simple. I could paint all day, everyday and that's what I pretty much do. A lot of people don't understand it and I've even lost a few friends over it, but I'm the happiest I've ever been in my life. I guess in a sense it's like how some people use sex or alcohol or even work to fill their void, art has always been the way I've filled mine.

What are you busy working on now?

I'm completing a four-piece Squarisum series inspired by the birth, struggle, journey and death of Jesus Christ. I've finished the first three and working on the last piece titled "The Prince of Peace."

Now that you've lived here for a few years, is Los Angeles the place to be for actors and painters alike?

Los Angeles has a much larger arts community with so many different outlets and many more opportunities that it's definitely inspiring for any artist to be immersed in it. But I also really appreciate my Hawaiian upbringing and I feel very fortunate that I've learned to have that inner confidence and always able to find passion from within myself. There are definitely a lot of differences between the culture here and the way people are back home, but the place isn't going to change who I am as a person.

To find out more about Jocelyn Josef and her collection of work go directly to her website at: JocelynJosef4.com.

Hollywood, CA

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