Joshua Cassella, Artist & Storyteller

Artist Statement

I love the challenge of humanistic realism, learning to document a person’s likeness and personality with colored greased that I push around with a hairy stick, it’s basically magic! I was taught the traditional method of painting portraits in oil by acclaimed fine artist and illustrator Mike Wimmer. The techniques of the old masters supplemented with modern technology and a unique perspective defines my personal style of humanistic realism with an imaginative twist.

My interest in comics and cartoons lead me to the comic and anime convention scene. Large groups of like-minded nerds gather together to celebrate whatever interests they share. One big part of these conventions is COSPLAY. Cosplay: Short for “costumed play” is the practice of dressing up to represent a specific character or idea. This subculture dedicated to elaborate dress-up began in Japan and spread across the world. Now these conventions are full of performance artists called cosplayers.

For my bachelors capstone project I did a series of portraits of cosplayers I knew. The challenge it gave me was more than I expected and it made me really start thinking about why I was painting what I was painting. My focus wasn’t on the elaborate costumes but on the person wearing them. My involvement in the cosplay community let me connect to these portraits more than any art I had ever made. Some of the cosplayers get into character and don’t break out until they leave the show floor. Some cosplayers are artisans who are there to exhibit their hard work, armor and weapons hand-crafted out of foam insulation from home depot or elaborate dresses that they painstakingly patterned themselves and lovingly stitched together seam by seam.

The people making and wearing these costumes are awe-inspiring avatars of personality, creativity, and determination. My paintings capture the transformation and passion within these people.