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“Shag” the artist on Disney, 1959 and more!

Josh Agle a.k.a. Shag

By: Greg Root Photos: Courtesy of Josh Agle, Jay Nailor & MiShell Modern, and Lani Garfield

Shag the Artist

Shag’s works are gently subversive with a hint of sin. His characters inhabit a world where desert tourist attractions collide with poolside soirées in a cultural mish-mash of form and color.

Animals frequently inhabit Shag’s work… wolves leer, bulls sip cocktails, apes, birds and kitty cats casually observe from the edges of scenes while humans cavort and carry on obliviously.

It’s all part of a Shag’s eye view that never fails to intrigue, delight and amuse.

Shag the Store

No trip to Palm Springs would be complete without a visit to Shag The Store, the retail space and gallery dedicated exclusively to all things Shag.

Shag the store
725 N Palm Canyon Drive
Palm Springs, CA 92262

Located in the flourishing Palm Springs Design District on Palm Canyon Drive, Shag The Store offers signed and numbered prints, original art, books, merchandise and other products in a retail space personally designed by Josh Agle, AKA Shag (“Shag” is a contraction of his first and last names), and faithfully reproduced by proprietors, Jay Nailor & MiShell Modern.

Thus, the store itself is a living example of Shag’s style and a great place to visit, hang out and shop. Like a super hip museum where the art is for sale. Visitors can pick up an inexpensive souvenir or an heirloom quality piece of original art in a fun and funky environment that instantly puts you in a Palm Springs frame of mind.

More SHAG prints can be seen and purchased at Jay and MiShell’s other gallery, M Modern Gallery

They release a new SHAG the store exclusive print every three months and hold an event for these print releases with SHAG in attendance… see it all at

Shag Q&A

Your home is in the LA area. Why so much focus on Palm Springs?
I’ve been coming to Palm Springs for over 20 years. My wife and I used it as a getaway. We’d stay in a Midcentury hotel and pretend we were living in 1959. I’m a big supporter of the city and its culture, architecture and art museum. It’s probably the place that is most emblematic of the lifestyle I depict in my paintings.

Tell us about your process… How does an idea become a finished piece?
Anything can spur an idea for a painting - from a funky telephone I saw at a swap meet to a situation I experienced at a cocktail party. Usually I start sketching ideas in pencil, refining them, and in the process, figuring out what I want to say with a painting and what I want it to look like.The more I work on it, the more refined the drawings become.

As that happens, the color scheme begins to materialize. I seldom start actually painting until I have a concrete image of what the painting should look like. It’s less like improvisation and more like composing a piece of music, arranging the instruments, rehearsing it, and finally recording it.

Your work has a commercial art quality. Tell us who were your inspirations as a young artist and who inspires you now.
Initially, I was inspired by nameless commercial artists from the ’50s and ’60s, as well as a couple illustrators whose names I knew: Gene Deitch, Jim Flora, Rolly Crump. I wanted to take what looked like old advertising or promotional art from that era and use it in a contemporary way by adding irony, ambiguity and dark humor. As my career has grown, I’ve looked towards artists whose bodies of work are readily recognizable parts of the pop culture landscape, like Edward Gorey, Keith Haring or Andy Warhol.

Your work has a kidney-shaped, tiki-torch Midcentury aesthetic that comes through in every piece.How do you parlay that sensibility to your work so effortlessly?
When I started doing art, I just looked to the things I was interested in and surrounded with. I collected Midcentury furniture, tiki mugs, old records and vintage suits. The first “Shag-ish” painting was done simply to hang on the wall in one of my old apartments. I was just painting what I loved.

You have a relationship with Disney. Can you tell us about that?
I started working with Disney in 2004 when I did the official art for the Enchanted Tiki Room 40th Anniversary at Disneyland. From there, my relationship with them grew to the point that I’ve worked with them on projects around the world. I try to keep my Disney artwork limited and separate from the rest of my art. It’s usually only available at the theme parks for a limited time.

Do we see you, your family or friends in your paintings?
I show up in a lot of my paintings! If you see a man with light hair and dark framed glasses, it’s usually me. My cars show up in my paintings as well. My wife and friends show up occasionally. I’ve even put my kids in a couple paintings, but since most of my work is centered on the world of adults, they rarely show up.

Any plans you can share with our readers about your next work?
Right now I’m working on a series of paintings celebrating international travel. Ten years ago, I did a similar collection. At that time, I hadn’t visited most of the places I was painting. Since then, I’ve been able to travel the world and visit many “Jet-Set” destinations. So, I’m returning to the theme with first-hand experiences. The paintings will debut in Sydney and Melbourne in November 2012.

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