Sculpture, first and foremost, is about shape and form. This mantra was Joshua Tobey’s first lesson in art education. He learned it at a very young age from his father and mentor, renowned western sculptor Gene Tobey, who instilled in Josh an innate desire to pursue a career as an artist. Even though he eventually went on to earn a fine art degree at Western State College in Gunnison, Colorado, many of Josh’s most valuable lessons came from watching his father’s determination and success in the western art world. “One of the greatest assets I’ve had in my career is growing up in an artist’s studio and knowing that you can be an artist – that it’s a reality,” says Josh, whose stepmother Rebecca Tobey artistically collaborated with Josh’s father.
Josh began molding his first sculptures at five or six years old while sitting in the back of his father’s classrooms in Corvallis, Oregon, where Tobey worked as a college art professor before he began his full-time art career in Santa Fe. Outside of these artistic explorations, Josh spent most of his time in the outdoors fishing, hiking and observing wildlife, which led him to initially pursue a business and recreation degree at Western State. However after a few prerequisites in drawing and ceramics he shifted his direction to focus on what he enjoyed most, the familiar hands-on experimentation of sculpting, while still utilizing his passion for nature and animals as personal inspiration. After graduating in 2001 with a bachelor’s degree in fine art, he returned home to apprentice his father in the studio and quickly began producing his own body of work.
The notion of play that brought about some of Josh’s very first artworks is still alive and well in his Colorado studio with his development of one-of-a-kind bronze reliefs. What began as a sculpting exercise and playful experimentation with patina, subject matter and composition has now evolved into a full body of work. These one-of-a-kind bronzes are like pages from the sculptor’s sketchbook; their rarity not only provides tremendous value to the collector as Josh produces only a few per year, but also acts as another personal connection between artist and collector.
Josh currently lives in Loveland, Colorado with his wife Josephine who oversees production and management of Joshua Tobey Studios. Josh and Josephine have developed a worldwide collector base for JTS, which is Josh’s biggest motivation as an artist. “The collector is very important to me,” he says. “The greatest award I could receive as an artist is when somebody appreciates my work. I’ve got people who bet on me, who have supported me, and in doing so have enabled me to work harder to come up with new concepts for bronzes. Further developing the work is the artist’s responsibility to the collector and to the spirit of the art.”
Josh has received significant recognition for his artwork in the western art world from national sculptor society awards to museum awards, but his most honored achievement to date is being recognized as the featured artist at the 2014 Fall Arts Festival in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Josh is the first sculptor to ever receive this award.