Built By Memories: Exploring the Hidden Gems of John Osgood

Just like our last stARTup Artfinder artist Belen Islas, we first met stARTup SF 2019 exhibitor John Osgood at stARTup LA 2019. There, his colorful works weaving street art, pop culture, and daily life into mesmerizing murals, portraits, and abstract scenes caught our attention, and fitted perfectly with the vibe of The Kinney Venice Beach. Originally hailing from Edmonds, Washington, John now calls the Bay Area home. Its iconic backdrop is the perfect inspiration for this “contemporary anthropological collector and documenter.”

For John, each of his paintings act as “a piece of amber saving moments in time and preserving memories and emotions. These narratives are represented through vivid colors, words, and other hidden gems.”

Pacific Place_John_05.jpg

When we sat down with John in his studio, he continued, “I believe people are attracted to my work because we all share parts of this common human journey of emotions and life experiences which makes each piece feel familiar.”

Here’s what he discussed with our Content Curator about his practice, inspirations, and where he sees his work going in the future:

Why or when did you decide to make work?

I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember. Art has always been very cathartic for me and is an outlet for sorting out how I experience life around me. Painting on a more serious level came later in high school and college. It was in college when I made my first sale and a light bulb went off in my head, “How do I make a living off doing what I love!?” I’ve been working on that ever since.

What inspires you currently?

Murals inspire me along with non-rainy weather so I can paint outside on a wall. I like the exercise of executing work in a large scale format. When I create murals in a community, I love to engage people as I am working to talk and discuss art in the public sphere. I’ve worked on projects where the mural becomes an icon for the community and people treat it like it’s theirs. I get even more inspired to create murals when people share their family milestone & wedding photos taken in front of them.  

Overall my art is inspired by the highs and lows of life, my family and friends, pop culture, and nature (particularly birds). My paintings have small pieces embedded in them which you’ll see as fragments of words or shapes which capture the essence of our life experiences. These embedded fragments are subtle and abstracted, but they are layered within all of my work.

What tool or medium would you be lost without?

Mine is not a tool or medium that I would be lost without, it is a person. My wife and I are a team when it comes to my art career. She works behind the scenes to keep all of the wheels turning and I get the chance to focus intently on creating art.


Other than your art practice, what other work do you do?

I really enjoy tinkering with synths, drum machines, recording things and making weird loops and beats. I also volunteer with my son’s first grade classroom as an art docent. My volunteer work with the kids has been so rewarding. I love how the kids get excited about creating art and their freedom of ideas. Most of them go in with no fear of “mistakes” and embrace the joy of just creating. My goal is to keep these kids embracing this philosophy regardless of whether they choose to become an artist or not. 

John Osgood Mural    New Amsterdam Vodka Commission    Size: 9 x 16 feet    Seattle, WA

John Osgood Mural

New Amsterdam Vodka Commission

Size: 9 x 16 feet

Seattle, WA

What’s the coolest thing that’s happened to you in your career?

I’d have to say that branching out into creating murals is one of the coolest things that has happened in my career. Mural work allows me to travel and meet people and work in a community setting. When you are working on an exterior mural you get to meet locals who are inquisitive. I really like talking about what I am doing, why I am doing it, and in most cases I am getting people thinking about art and how it can enrich the environment. 

If you could be in any museum, what would it be?

It would be in the MOMA in NY and the Seattle Art Museum. Even though I am now in the East Bay, Seattle is my hometown and it would be such an honor to have my art exhibited there.

If you could own any piece of art, what would it be?

It would be hard to choose between Basquiat and Picasso. I am inspired by both of these artists work and find myself itching to get back into the studio after watching a documentary or seeing their work in a museum.

And finally, what’s your least favorite color?

My least favorite color is the one that I don’t have enough of and I need to finish a painting with.



All stARTup artists are vetted by an independent jury for each fair to ensure that art collectors, enthusiasts, and professionals are discovering and purchasing works from today's top independent artists in the market.

Subscribe to our newsletter for Artist Exhibitions, special features, and details about our upcoming fairs - like stARTup SF 2019. Stay tuned for our list of Exhibiting Artists. Buy advance tickets.

Find John on Instagram: @johnosgood

Q&A by Content Curator Mica England