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Joshua Davis: Never Let Success Get In The Way of Creativity

About this talk

As creatives we strive for some form of success — some mountaintop, goal, or recognition. So what happens when we finally reach the thing we’ve been aiming for? After a lifetime of experimentation, artist Joshua Davis found his growth slowing after receiving high-level acknowledgment for his work. “I got lazy, I got comfortable, and I produced less,” he says.

Stagnant and absent of the fear that fueled his creativity, he embarked on a multi-year journey to make himself uncomfortable: switching tools, methods, and collaborators. Along the way, he discovered the pitfalls of the known and the importance of play and fear in the creative process.  

Josh Davis, Owner, Joshua Davis Studio

Joshua Davis, is a New York based artist, designer, and technologist producing both public and private work for companies, collectors, and institutions. He has worked at Sub Rosa as Interactive Director and at Code and Theory as creative director of physical installations.

Comments (25)
  • Andy Hunt

    Very inspiring! I’ve been a huge fan of the work he does under his alias Hydro74 for the past several years.

    • Natty Coleman

      Totally different guy haha.

      • Andy Hunt

        Yeah, i caught that after the fact and edited my comment. Weird that it didn’t update.

      • Joshua Davis

        Josh vs. Josh the power of Josh.

      • Andy Hunt

        There can be only one *cue Highlander theme*

  • Jahanzeb Khan

    Great talk. I’m surprised no mention about anything from his time at Kioken. Anyway, glad to see him finding himself and continuing to live a passionate life.

    • Joshua Davis

      shouldn’t be a surprise… only had a short span of time for my talk and wanted to keep the timeline about my personal work and not my commercial work over the years… though my time at kioken produced some of the best corporate work I have ever had the pleasure of being a part of… however, the focus of this talk was my personal work path.

      • Jahanzeb Khan

        Agreed—but for the sake of an interesting answer vs a right…once personal work becomes professional how does one decipher a work path? ex: your work appearing as vinyl on a car or Deadmau5.

        Sidenote: I’m a member of your class on Skillshare.

      • Joshua Davis

        nice to have you in the class… hope you’re enjoying it.

        I think when you start getting paid to do the things… you’d make anyway… even if you didn’t get paid to do them, the distinction isn’t blurred at all.

        I’d say this is exactly why I didn’t bring up the kioken work… as the car and the deadmau5 stuff WERE the work I’d have made anyway.

      • Jahanzeb Khan

        Enjoying the class very much Joshua. Well worth the price of admission. 🙂

        I guess things have just been a blur for me. My work started years ago being personal, then I got paid for it..then I lost control of it? inputs, marketing etc. I guess this is why this talk really resonated with me…things aren’t a blur but I feel I’ve been at this plateau of ” sameness”. I need to go back to exploring and being inquisitive like a child again….

        Aside from that, serious question: Xbox one or PS4? lol

        btw Its awesome to see you take the time to actually reply to everyone. Much respect to you sir.

      • Joshua Davis

        Internet High Five. I say PS4. 🙂 Final Fantasy forever !

      • Jahanzeb Khan

        Amen. Sephiroth = Legendary.

        Agreed with the Ps4 🙂 Hopefully you don’t end up on the otherside of my sniper in COD sir…lol jk sorta.

  • teej

    In late 2001, after 9/11, with the art school in NYC I wanted to attend unaccessible, I had no choice but to enroll in a pretty crummy (and expensive) little trade school on Long Island to begin formally learning about design and the web.

    I wasted about six months and $15,000 learning mediocre design from mediocre teachers — it was a real bummer. But at the end of the course, Joshua came to give a talk and spend the day with my class there. What an inspiration, to see someone using the same tools we were learning to use — to make art.

    Blew me away, lit a huge fire under my butt, and I’ve never forgotten that day. Thanks Joshua, you’ve been an inspiration to me for a dozen years now.

    • Joshua Davis


  • MissM

    probably inspiring, however i personally dislike tattoes and 4 letter words in a presentation.

    • Joshua Davis

      the 1950’s called… they want closed-mindedness back.

    • Hugo Campodónico

      And you need it to comment here because…

    • Hugo Fernandes

      So you’re judging the message because the man has… tattoos? (not “tattoes” btw)

  • ericfickes

    Fucking brilliant as per usual.

  • Salman Nasir

    brilliant topic and great points to ponder upon!

  • le_dude

    very good talk, loads of inspiration and amazing art/code..especially when you don’t know the f what you’re doing, brilliant

  • Talking Dog Studios

    I would like to know more about the Kinect and Leap experiments.

    • fjddd


  • Joshua Davis

    I have started with some skillshare classes… class 2 will cover animation and class 3 will cover hardware like the kinect and leap… but still working on em.

  • kim villagante

    uhmmm this guy is my new creative role model.
    he’s a weirdo and i love it. so necessary to be constantly hungry to create and find something fresh.

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