Wednesday April 03, 2013 | 11:18 AM
Posted by Rob Gould

Josh is an artist who works in a variety of mediums including paint, wood, fabric and collage. He is also currently in his sophomore year at MECA. In his most important role(s), he is a husband and the proud father of twin girls.

Josh recently created a public art installation, "Preservation," which is currently on display at City Hall Plaza in Portland. The story behind the installation can be found in an article written earlier this week by Bob Keyes.

Josh is my closest friend. He's like my brother. Even taking all of that into account, it took a lot of whining for me to get him to agree to do this interview.

We talked on April Fool's Day. Guess who was the fool? (Hint: it wasn't Josh)

Obsession, narcissism and art, art, art ...

As with most of my interviews, what you'll read here is a greatly condensed version of our conversation.

What was your first experience with social media?

"For me, my interaction with any sort of social media was late. I'm 32, so I wouldn't consider myself old. You know, like you are. I grew up with social media around me, but I didn't really have interactions with it until I was 20 or 21. It was through ... I don't know if I even remember the name of the game, it was a word game on a website, like a website devoted to games, and users could chat with other users. I mean, when I was younger than that, there was AOL IMing going on but I never really got into that. I may have had a total of four chats. And, even with that gaming/chat thing, I got into that only for a few months while I was in the Coast Guard. Then I stopped and didn't really think about it again. I remember, when I was using it I did think it was interesting that I was connected with people nowhere near me. I remember, because there were no photos, imagining that I was talking with these beautiful women and that one of them would end up being really into me and we would end up meeting and being together. Obviously, that never happened."

"At first, to me Facebook seemed really boring. With MySpace you had the freedom to make it look the way you wanted. You could customize the background with different color schemes and you could use photos, you could attach music and even whole playlists. It seemed a lot more customizable. It's funny that something so creative and customizable, and kind of endless in how you could format it, just kind of went away."

"Now, I really enjoy Facebook. It took me two or three years on MySpace before I moved over to Facebook. I had friends who were talking about Facebook, like you were constantly when we were roommates, but it took me a while to move over. I think what it was, Jennie, my wife, when we first started dating, she was using MySpace and we used it a lot. When we first started dating, she was in D.C. and we used to talk on MySpace, like all the time. And then she got a Facebook account. So, very quickly after that, I got a Facebook account and moved over to that." 

"I've tried on multiple occasions to acquaint myself with, and enjoy, Twitter, but I have yet to ever succeed at that. With Twitter, it's much harder to know who I'm connecting with. For me, it's harder to make the bond, the connection, than it is on Facebook."

"Tumblr has been really interesting. I first started using Tumblr to showcase my work. Sort of as a free website to get my work out there. And, I got a lot of response to the stuff I was posting. But, it became sort of obsessive and I found myself creating art to put on Tumblr to get the responses instead of creating art to create the art. So, I kind of moved away from Tumblr for a while. Now, I'm back on it again. It started as an assignment for a class at MECA about cataloguing your interests. More recently, I've been posting photos of my work and things I'm working on. For me, it's really just an online catalogue of my interests. I also get ideas and inspiration from looking at other people's accounts."

What do you like about social media?

"I think it's a great platform for artists, especially for emerging artists, to show their own work for free. I do struggle with it sometimes. Although I want my work to be public, and I enjoy the responses to it that I get, I struggle with the obsessive nature that I can have with checking on those responses. It's always great to put my work out there and get positive feedback but what I like to be able to do is post something and limit myself. Like, to check once at the end of the day instead of checking every five minutes."

"Look at the things that are happening in Syria and Egypt. Without social media, a lot of what's going on in those places wouldn't be known. Not a lot, nothing would be known without social media. That's the platform that's getting the message out and getting the news out. That's how people find out about what is going on in those places. Of course, this is news that the world needs to know about."

"Just yesterday, my 84 year old grandfather joined Facebook and sent me and Jennie friend requests. Before that, the only way I could communicate with him was through phone calls. Now, it will be much easier for us to keep up with him on Facebook."

What do you dislike about social media?

"Sometimes I get really tired of, I was talking with Jennie about this yesterday, how often people will post portraits of themselves. Like, constantly. Like, you do this. I just find it odd. I think as a society, especially living in America, to some degree we are kind of a self-centered society. So, I feel like this kind of behavior just feeds that even more."

"To be an artist, you have to somewhat self-centered. You have to be really interested in your own ideas. You have to think about how to execute those ideas, and create those ideas, and then promote those ideas. And, it's all about the stuff that I'M CREATING. Then, when you put your work online and get all sorts of feedback, it can really feed that self-centeredness and ego. Yes, it could definitely make for a big ego. I really don't want that and I struggle with that. It's something that I really try to be aware of so I don't get this bloated sense of myself. Because, I think if you're not aware of it you will get a skewed view of yourself."

"This is kind of nit-picky, but I get tired of people constantly updating their accounts with all sorts of mundane information. Like, I don't care that you stubbed your toe when you got out of bed this morning. Or, that you screwed up your coffee and stepped in dog shit on the way to work. I think people get too descriptive about the mundane details of their lives. I just don't care."

What would it be like for you to disconnect from social media for six months?

"I think I would feel really lonely. Which is weird to hear myself say because I have a family. A really loving and supportive and amazing family. But, I would really miss the connections I have. Since I have very young children at home, it keeps me at home, for the most part, when I'm not at school. So, it helps me to keep connections, useful and helpful connections, which otherwise would be much more difficult to keep up with. Jennie and I miss out on social events that we can't really go to right now because we have to be at home with the girls. So this helps me to keep up with those things by seeing photos and posts about them."

"I certainly could get by without any sort of social media but it makes life more interesting right now."

If you could only use three words to describe social media, what would they be?

"Instant. Fun. Narcissistic."

Is there a person or brand that you think uses social media effectively?

Cabin Porn Inspiration for your quiet place somewhere. Edited by the residents of Beaver Brook.

Corey Daniels Gallery I'm always interested to see what Corey is posting/the new work he is featuring on his Facebook page.

The High Line I love this Facebook page. And, this place.

I want to thank Josh for taking the time to talk with me about his opinions on, and experience with, social media.

You can find Josh on Facebook at: Joshua Yurges

You can find Josh on Instagram at: @jlyurges

You can find Josh on Tumblr at: jyurges


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Social media has changed the way that many of us learn, purchase, interact and explore the world around us. And, things are just getting started. Social, Social is a place to discuss social media with people from all walks of life. No experts allowed.

About the Author

Rob works as a digital marketing & public relations consultant to agencies, brands, and individuals. He has 20 years of marketing experience. He also currently serves in a volunteer capacity as director of pr/communications for TEDxDirigo. From 2005-2011, Rob served as director of social media & agency communications at The VIA Agency (Portland). Prior to VIA, Rob worked with several PR & advertising agencies in London & Boston. He is a graduate of The University of Vermont (UVM) and a Maine transplant (2002).

Follow Rob on Twitter at @bobbbyg

His real-life interests include art, travel, writing, design, psychology, the beach, & exercise (grudgingly at times).

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