Slay, Josh Slater

From zines, to abstract art, to a new music vid with all the best ’80s vibes–the Brooklyn-based artist does it all.

“Rearrange,” a photo lithograph by Josh Slater

Whether you remember or not, there was in fact a time when MTV exclusively played music videos. This epoch is formally referred to by historians as The Best Time in History, and its short-lived span has been lamented by literally everyone. So when we came across the work of Brooklyn native and denizen Josh Slater, director of the new video for indie-rock musician Jack Killen’s Symphony of Skin, we were like, “This dude gets it.” And not just because the vid’s leading lady–IRL DJ and heart throb Kristine Barilli–sports a sick moto and v. enviable nail game–its amalgamation of moody film noir and grainy VHS visuals are like an aesthetic “best of” from the era that loved heavy eyeliner and fog machines almost as much as the music video itself. Slater doesn’t just make rad videos, but a whole array of art, including paintings and zines. Below he walks us through some of his newest projects, and tells us about obsessing over snakes, the tornado in his head, and the beauty of letting things fall apart.


“I can’t remember a time I wasn’t drawing or making things. One of my oldest memories is obsessively sketching the cobras from the cartoon “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi”over and over again. I loved snakes.”


“I’m trying to see how loose I can make things before they fall apart. Like when you drop a little color in a cup of water and it just spreads.”


“I’ve also kind of done away with brushes and am only using my hands, I don’t want any separation between me and the paper or canvas.”


“These are all images from my newest zine UNGAPATCHKA, which I would say is a tornado of images that spin through my brain on a daily basis, or a kind of sampler of what I’m thinking about when I lock myself in the studio.”


“In the end though, I think all my work is about communication through a visual language. I don’t always know what I’m trying to get across, but if the viewer can pick up on it, well, that’s my kind of ESP.

This is the first of four videos I made for Jack. The visual influences for the video are a jumble of film noir, Gary Numan, The Uncontrollable, effects of VHS, Roger Corman, and of course Kenneth Anger.”

To keep up with all of Josh’s projects, including his video series, follow his Insta or check out his site.