The Best Craft I Have Ever Bought with Joshua Ben Longo

Tell us a bit about yourself and how you eventually became interested in crafts?

My name is Joshua Ben Longo and I’m an artist, designer, teacher, and tattoo artist. I currently work full-time as Product Design Professor for Drexel University. This allows me to work on my own work and collaborations with various designers and companies, such as designing furniture for Anthropologie, creating animations for Adult Swim, or collaborating with Matter Design on books about Cyclopean Architecture.

I learn through doing and using my hands and spend my time dancing with material, searching for new form, function, or meaning. Sometimes the dance is enough for me, sometimes the material asks to become something else. I try to listen as best as I can to what I’m working with hoping it will lead me to a new and interesting place. Right now, I am obsessed with leather and leather forming. A majority of my work is textile based in the form of conceptual products and sculpture. I’m currently getting my master’s degree in Design Research at Drexel concerning this very topic and I’m looking to change perceptions of the relationship between maker, material, and artifact.

When did your interest in the arts spark?

I have always had an interest in the arts, but my passions were fed and flamed while studying Industrial Design at Pratt Institute.

What is your favorite craft you own you've ever bought?

I collect masks from traveling around the world. My favorite masks tend to be the demon and animal masks. I have a paper mache tiger mask I bought in India. There is something about masks that has always intrigued me. They act as portals to new dimensions, whether they be internal or external. One can’t argue the change of feeling when they put on a mask – it is instant. My masks and other artifacts from travel hang in my home studio where I do my drawing and painting, where they provide endless inspiration. 

What are your current and upcoming projects?

I’m currently getting my master’s degree in Design Research at Drexel University that is keeping me very busy! This summer, I plan to continue to experiment with leather and will be collaborating with the director, Keil Troisi, on designing monsters for his movie “Trash Night” which is currently in the funding stage. I also have a workshop on making, character, and form at MIT in the fall for the graduate architecture department which should be super fun.

At the 2017 Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show, I was one of the organizers as well as an exhibitor in the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, Drexel University booth. The University Program gives attendees a chance to see and purchase work by students and recent alumni. The Westphal/Drexel booth will be exhibiting in the 2018 Show this fall so make sure to stop by to learn more!

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