In Conversation with Josh Johnston


“I’m happy with myself and being gay is one of my absolute favourite things about myself and that’s all that matters”.

Josh Johnston adds a whole new meaning to the ‘Creator’ profession. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such innovative, beautiful and perfectly executed content on my entire 7 years on social media. Having grown his following quite steadily, Josh has come to have a loyal fanbase supporting his creative works through Instagram, his beautiful collection of bee necklaces, his wonderful set of Lightroom presets, AND his new clothing line launching in March! He really is a busy bee, now the necklaces make sense! I was so excited to be able to have a conversation with Josh about him and his works, so as always, we started with our little ice breakers!


1. What’s the one thing that never fails to make you smile?

Seeing someone do something nice for someone else out of pure kindness

2. What animal best represents your personality?

Tiger


3. On a scale of 1-10, how are you feeling today?

7.5 because I’m stressed but we doing good



Reading Josh’s answer to question one should tell you all you need to know about his character (but please read on, because he just gets better and better). I’ve known Josh for probably just under a year. In that time, I have seen his creativity flourish and see him express himself in the most beautiful of ways. It’s fascinating to see someone so creatively innovative, and to be able to continue to provide such inspired content whilst being in a lockdown.


Many of Josh’s inspirations come from everyday life. The general happenings that can be witnessed from walking down the street, looking out of a window, sitting in a park, or even from observing his current emotions. For most creatives, our inspiration and motivation can peak at the most random of times. So, when an idea pops into Josh’s head at 2am, he will quickly jot it down, so it doesn’t slip from his mind.


“Some days if I wake up feeling really down about life, it’ll spark an idea to take a photo that portray my current emotions and how mental health can sometimes get the best of us, same when I’m having amazing days filled with positivity”


One of the most frustrating things to deal with as a creative, is a creative block. For those that don’t experience this, it feels very much like you’re banging your head against a metaphorical wall hoping that just ONE good idea will fall out of your head. It’s something that almost all creatives go through and there is no specific remedy for it, it will just pass. Josh says that it’s completely normal to go “through ups and downs including with inspiration and artwork” and has his own take on what helps him overcome it. Rather than just pushing through and hoping it works (which is what most corporate jobs expect you to do) he’ll do exactly what his mind is asking him to do, rest. He’ll take the time he needs to give his mind a break whilst doing things that “feed his soul”. Practicing this allows our minds to get back to a state of calm and tranquillity, meaning our minds can flow a bit more freely, rather than simply resembling a tornado, steam rolling over your creative scrapbook leaving everything in a jumbled mess. Josh’s specific activities for this will include being with nature and around people that uplift him. He’ll also spend less time on his phone, which we all know has the potential to harm our mental health.


What some people don’t know about Josh’s art is that the majority of it is a collaborative effort between him and a tripod - there is no photographer involved. This is what I find so inspiring about his works, is that the ideas come to him and he doesn’t let lack of resources get in his way. He becomes a stylist, makeup artist, set manager, artistic director, photographer and model all in one; and the results are still seamless. Surely this comes with its fair share of stress, right? Josh finds creativity to be his true passion, so it becomes less enjoyable the more stressful it becomes. Of course, has proven to have his fair share of great ideas, but everyone has their limits, and sometimes it’s nice to have some creative input another creative.



The evident thing about Josh’s creativity is his use of social media as an outlet and platform for his passion. The difficult part of building a social media career is the almost guaranteed love/hate relationship that comes with it. Social media is no longer something that can just bring joy, connection and entertainment; it becomes about numbers. When I asked Josh about his relationship with social media, he stated that it used to be very unhealthy. His intention wasn’t ever to build a following or to become a ‘creator’ as such, it was more about sharing his passion and what he loves online, “growing a following was just an unexpected and huge blessing”. This kind of growth means we can focus too much of our time on growth, followers, likes etc, and how we can become the “next big thing”. This kind of thought process can definitely take the love and passion out of social media and can turn it more into an unhealthy obsession, one that I myself still struggle with from time to time. However, Josh has since grown a lot as a person and has learned to manage his time on social media more effectively.


“I have got to a point where I have a very healthy relationship with social media and don’t spend too much time on it but still balance spending some time to admire others art/lives and engaging with others from all over the world which is one of my favourite parts about social media”

Something that Josh has been quite open about online and through his artwork has been his battle with depression. Josh grew up in a religious and highly conservative environment which he stated was the main trigger for his depression. This led to a serious internal battle of self-acceptance, one that most queer people go through but even more so when you’re brought up being told you can’t be who you are. Josh’s mind too him to the darkest of places at times of his depression, all because of his sexuality, something that no person should ever have to go through.


Following him coming out to his family and friends, the self-acceptance only grew, and his family responded better than expected. Whilst he still gets the feeling certain family members are still struggling with the idea, he recognises that his happiness and love are paramount and nothing else should interfere with that. As someone that brings so much love and joy to such a seemingly toxic platform, Josh gave the following advice on how to battle depression and come out the other side.

“I would just say stay strong and it will get so much better. It does. When you’re in the thick of it, it’s so hard to see any kind of hope or better future for yourself but I promise you it will get better and you will find happiness”


To some, one of the hardest parts of depression is trying to prevent or help to ease a relapse. When you’re out of the other side it is easy to become complacent and ignore the warning signs. Josh said that his best advice to avoiding a relapse or just making them easier to manage is having the mindset that nothing lasts forever. Having the memory of you coming out of the other side of a dark place will help you to realise that even if you struggle again, you will get through it.


“Just by doing things that you love! Do things that make you happy. It’s not selfish to take care of and prioritize yourself— you deserve to be prioritized and taken care of so why not do it yourself!”

Prior to him coming out, Josh had secretly dated a guy that he had fallen deeply in love with, but the realities of his religious background and conservative upbringing made it difficult for him to accept himself, which eventually took its toll on their relationship. Interestingly, whilst Josh’s upbringing meant his relationships had to be secret, he has never had any interest in hook-up culture. This is something that has become common amongst queer people as we’re used to having to have subtle and discreet relationships. Josh however has a craving for an emotional connection rather than a mere physical one, and so the culture that so much of our community partake in, doesn’t satisfy Josh.


The main thing that Josh wants to have normalised within the queer community is just dating. He explained how so many queer people will only date with the intention of hooking up, or bypass dating all-together. Whilst he expressed that there is nothing wrong with hook-up culture and people have the right to do as they please, Josh believes in getting to know people purely for the sake of getting to know people. Being the humble and loving soul that he is, he would rather meet people with no agenda or ulterior motive, just see where it goes. But, when so many young queer people enter the community thinking that sex comes before a relationship and that hook-up culture is just the ‘norm’, there remains few opportunities for a genuine and loving connection beyond physical.


Having discussed many of his passions and struggles, like all of our interviews I wanted to know what advice Josh would give to his younger self, and here’s his unfiltered response:


“I would just be like: “Hey little guy. it’s gonna be ok” hahaha. I laugh because its crazy how far you come and how much life changes. I literally used to think I wouldn’t survive, that I wouldn’t make it. I would tell him that he is so loved, that he is beautiful and wonderful just the way he is and that one day he will be living his best life, being the best version of himself and that he will be so glad he pushed through.”

I want to personally thank Josh for taking the time out of his busy schedule to work with us and give an insight into his life behind the screen. He is one of the most hardworking creators I know, and it has been an honour to work alongside him.


Stay tuned for his future ventures by engaging with his content and projects:


Website: https://shopfotia.com

Instagram: Joshjjo

TikTok: joshjjo

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