Talking with Joe Garvey

Talking with Joe Garvey


Whim: Tell me about your relationship to sports

JG: I grew up playing everything, I was actually in a youth golf league amongst other sports. Golf was a big part of growing up, my dad golfed a lot. So, I would be on the cart with him in charity tournaments, meaning I was around the game quite a bit as a child. Then, obviously, basketball was the other big sport that I played all my life and still play to this day. Always been around sports and used it as a form of exercise, etc.


Whim: In your life, how is art and sport intertwined.

JG: I have used sports ephemera in my work before. Obviously the visual aesthetics of especially 90s NBA is super influence to me, that whole era of skateboard graphics informed 

My aesthetics early on. But now its like I use art as a form of meditation, escape and a way to occupy my brain space. And I think the parallel there with sports is clear, that you use exercise or playing basketball or golf as that escape from the daily grind.


Whim: Pulling on that thread a little. What do you think people get wrong about that parallel between art and sport?

JG: I just think its easy to make a, there has to be. You have to just make the person see the connection. This is why I am using this. There has to be a route to it. It’s hard to explain… its a good question. 


Whim: Then What do you see as the difference between an artist and an athlete?

JG: There are definitely parallels. A very small percentage of basketball players or golfers become pro. You could say the same about artists. Everybody makes art when they’re youth but few take it as a career path making a viable career out of it. The correlation between those two is very apparent. But also just the dedication, if you want to be any type of athlete you have to be 10000% invested in it. Working through all the ups and downs, the good days, the bad days all that. Its like training, the preparation makes the performance. The same goes for art.

Whim: It seems like as we age it seems that less and less people engage in art or sports. Why do you think that is?

JG: Societal cues that tell you that Art or sports isn’t a career.  “there’s no way you could do this as a profession. I think especially now, there are so many ways you can be involved on a career level. You may not play for the Timberwolves but there’s like million other opportunities that you could work in that world.


Whim: Do you think that there is a lack of adult amateur engagement as far as sports or art as an activity? How might you encourage more activity?

JG: The highest engagement is golf, because it is totally normal for an adult to play a round of golf a week. Rambles and its Kinda whatever 

There is a big connection between sports, art and your childhood. The big cliche is that you make art as a way of connecting with your childhood. A time when you made paintings or drawings without any other pressure, you just created to create. I guess the same could be said about sports too, no one cares who wins the 6th grade basketball game, it’s purely for the participation and for what kids can get out of playing an organized team sport.


Whim: What stands out to me when you were describing your view is the phrase “purely for the participation”, it encapsulates that cliche without being too on the nose. 

JG: the same thing could be said about drawing or painting, we do it to merely express ourselves


Whim: What is your history with golf and how has it changed as you’ve entered and exited different phases in your life

JG: As I mentioned, I definitely grew up golfing. It was a big part of my childhood, even bringing a punching wedge out into my yard and practicing pitching or small doses of the game like that. I honestly have gotten away from it as an adult, really only playing the course I grew up playing when I am back home. It is not a constant anymore in my life, yet I have been thinking more about revisiting it, just as I have with snowboarding over the past few year… I view it as the same principle in a way, getting back to something I did as a kid, a place that I have a strong connection to

Whim: What I have loved about snowboarding or golf or surfing is that they are lifelong sports, that as you phase out of team sport, many people want to continue their relationship with sports and their identities as athletes. That realization and long-term thinking toward these activities pushes you further into the games I just mentioned.

With creating a brand, we have found that there are many ways to bring people closer to sports  and to see themselves as a part of it. Which has become our mission now.

JG: Well for sure, especially with these sports that we’ve just covered, golf, snowboarding, skiing - the access is pretty limited. They are white worlds. Which is unfortunate… so if you can work on changing that, that is an amazing pursuit. It’s also, culture defines athlete in a very specific term, but it can be very broad, you don’t have to be on tour to be an athlete, you can be an athlete in your own way.


Whim: That’s a major takeaway, you don’t need to even play 18 holes to be a golfer, there are people that just go to the range who are 100% golfers.

JG: you can shoot a 120 and it still qualifies. Its all the personal expression.


Whim: What do you want to work on that you are not doing now but maybe working towards?

JG: A lot of things I guess…Getting my studio to an output point where it is just churning stuff out. Whether its art, design, objects, furniture, sculpture - creating the world where I can make and produce concepts that I have in my head. So making my studio more of a factory business, I go in, have an idea on the wall and do all the steps to make it exist. Achieving that production level within my studio.


Whim: How would you describe that? Rhythmic?

JG: More focused, shutting things out and just concentrating on that. When that stuff happens its a real snowball effect, its just about really “getting in there” and doing the practice of art making. 


Whim: Do you ever consider how these ideas might fit in with your other work? Or whether they make sense with the way that your identity as an artist is being developed

JG: I definitely think about it,,, but more now I have gotten to the point where I’m like “oh I am interested in a bunch of different practices” and I think I held on to the idea that “I could only be a painter, or photographer, or a sculptor” but I see everything as my work. I want to do it all, purely jack of all trades - making the world of my work. I think that’s where the magic comes in.


Whim: Do you have any new obsessions? 

JG: Screen printing is something I have been exploring more in the studio. Creating these large works printed on wood pieces, so I have been going pretty heavy in that. Using raw materials and using techniques that I have used in other commercial avenues in my personal work. So deleting the line between me and the commercial work I have done, and me as an artist - that line can just be gone.


Whim: Do you have a story of a found object that you recently have gravitated to?

JG: I have this idea for a piece where… I have this thing, where I keep pieces of clothing from people who have passed away in my life. And I want to make a locker or closet of pieces from these people. I found this Jordan jersey, tags on it and everything in my grandpas closet after he passed away. He would never wear a jersey and a Pendleton flannel, etc. All of these objects from their lives that I have just taken. A mausoleum


Whim: What is the energy within that, I feel like its not uncommon for people. I think of the characters in Darjeeling Limited wearing all their fathers stuff, prescription glasses and everything.

JG: There’s energy in the fabric we wear. It could be easily said that it’s just clothing. Especially you having a clothing brand, there is something in that. It’s important, the clothes that you choose to wear.

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