Picture Perfect: The Art of Josh McKenna

Written by | The Lens

Can you ever really know another person’s soul? We cross paths with thousands of our fellow human animals throughout the years, exchanging glances and pleasantries that cast an overall impression in the collective mind’s eye.

But it’s just that: an impression.

Your legacy is a collage of perspectives and memories. Every time you dance, kiss or laugh, you paint another brushstroke of your life mural.

And if you’re lucky, you may get immortalized by an artist as talented and perceptive as Josh McKenna.

“I take my inspiration from lighter, brighter ways of life,” he tells Directory of Illustration.

“I always try to feed real characters into my work, people I see out on the streets or characters I have met are often featured. Having my peers around me and keeping up with current illustrators and artists, seeing what everybody is working on can be a real inspiration.”

The result is a triumphant portfolio populated by queer cowboys, skater bois and sassy tourists.

But the characters in McKenna’s universe are more than just stylized silhouettes; they are aesthetic archetypes of the queer experience.

“It’s important to use creative work as a voice for current social issues and I try to use my skills as an artist, using my voice to represent all kinds of people and to address certain issues faced within the LGBTQ+ community. I’ve had to face a few obstacles when working with larger clients when it comes to ideas surrounding diversity and a lot of content gets classed as too sexual, so it can be a challenge of keeping my integrity while pleasing the client with my artwork.”

The list of said clients is impressive indeed. McKenna has crafted campaign imagery for Google, Apple, Vogue and MTV, just to name a fierce few. His digital stickers have gone viral for all the right reasons: visibility, inclusion and empowerment.

So, if you see a trans rights asset or marriage equality flourish with a uniquely playful flair, you might be gazing at a Josh McKenna original. They all add up to impressive impressions that just make life a little sunnier, a bit sweeter, and lot more gay. Thanks, Josh!

Photo: Instagram @jshmck


Last modified: May 8, 2022