Celebrating Vintage Modern and Drinking Culture with Shag
Playing guitar in a band in the late 1980s Josh Agle decided that he needed to differentiate his on-stage persona from his art and amalgamated the last two letters of his first name and first to letters of his last name to create his nom de guerre, Shag. An artist extensively featured in multiple galleries, Shag manages to combine the modern sleekness of the 1950s and ’60s with a tongue-in-cheek attitude reminiscent of the Pink Panther.
His focus is motivated by the optimism in design that pervaded the era, the idea that good humanistic design would help push past the evil blemishes of the previous generation. However, when asked whether he’d like to live in that era he replied definitively that he wouldn’t and making a comparison between classic cars and modern cars: while classics might be more entertaining, modern cars comfort and engineering are simply easier to live with.
Perhaps that’s why Shag can poke fun at the era. In spite of all the optimism and burgeoning civil and womens’ rights movements, Playboy’s popularity was exploding, along with other lad magazines, “how to live like a bachelor” articles were popular and gender roles were still very much locked. Whatever your thoughts on the era, Shag’s art is a bold, playful hat tip to vintage modern.
If you happen to live in Southern California, check out his store in Palm Springs’s Uptown Design District at 725 N. Palm Canyon Drive. If you don’t, read on for the link to his online store.
Q: Was it hard to start your career as an automotive artist?
A: It was difficult in the sense that I had to work really hard for little money to establish myself as an artist. But I loved what I was doing, which was the only reason I could do so much work for so little.
Q: What is your favorite subject?
A: Drinking and all that surrounds that activity.
Q: How did your passion for painting and vintage culture begin?
A: It began with collecting old vinyl LP records. Some of them had great covers depicting a sort of jet-setter/bachelor-pad lifestyle. I wanted to recreate that in my own life. When I couldn’t afford it, I painted it.
Q: How does the creative process start?
A: My creative process begins with a pencil and paper. I sketch ideas until I’m satisfied with something that I think will work as a painting. I develop the sketch and work on its composition, color scheme, and theme until I am ready to actually start painting.
Q: You have a very graphic style, what inspires it?
A: I was originally inspired by nameless illustrators from the ‘50s and ‘60s whose work I had seen in old magazines or on old album covers. I wanted to take that simplified, flat style and further develop it into something that said something about the present, and about hedonism, consumerism and materialism.
Q: What technique do you use for your paintings?
A: Acrylic paint on Masonite panels.
Q: Do you own or aspire to own a classic car (and which one)?
A: I recently sold a 1964 Ford T-Bird and now am on the hunt for a 1963 Studebaker Avanti. It’s a quirky car, but it was designed in Palm Springs by the famous industrial designer Raymond Loewy. The car had futuristic styling and gadgetry, and was supposed to save the Studebaker company. It didn’t.
Q: What is your favorite road and companion?
A: My favorite road is Mulholland Drive in the Hollywood Hills. It curves and changes elevation and wanders all the way from Mandeville Canyon to the Hollywood Bowl. There’s a lot to look at and a lot to wonder about behind the high hedges and walls. I guess my favorite driving companion would be my daughter Zoey. We like a lot of the same things.
Q: As an artist, when you look at a car what do you see?
A: I look at how the car is composed, almost like looking at a painting. Some cars are beautifully proportioned, some are very blah, and some are so weird and unusual that I can’t help but like them. I don’t think you can judge a car until it’s at least twenty years old–by then, you’ll ignore things like the make or model, or if it conforms to what is hip or trendy. It just works on its own as a piece of design.
Q: Do you have an all-time favorite car?
A: Aesthetically, my all time favorite car is the 1964 Ford Thunderbird. It’s low and wide and square, but still sort of sporty looking. Dean Martin used one as his spy-mobile when he played Secret Agent Matt Helm in the movies. His had a built-in bar. But if money were no object, I’d probably be looking at vintage Ferraris.
Q: Where do you like or would you like to see your art displayed most?
A: I’d like to see my art in the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It’s not there yet, and probably won’t be during my lifetime, but maybe sometime in the future somebody will think it warrants inclusion in the world’s finest collection of contemporary art.
If you’d like to see more, head over to Shag’s site. And if you order one of Shag’s pieces, make sure you mention Petrolicious for a free gift.