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Josh Gluckstein

Updated: Apr 4, 2022

Artist Bio:

Josh Gluckstein
Josh Gluckstein

My name is Josh, I am an artist living and working in London. Animals have always been a central theme in my artwork. Inspired by my extensive travels and volunteering through Asia, Africa and South America, I have sought to capture the presence of some of the most majestic animals I have seen by creating life-size sculptures, often made from found and recycled materials. I have continually strived to make my practice more and more sustainable, and my new collection is made entirely of recycled cardboard and paper. Its accessibility and versatility allows me to bring the animal to life and capture their character and intriguing beauty while creating zero waste.

How did you become the artist you are today?

Since Uni, I have divided my time between working, travelling around the world, and making art inspired by my adventures. My background is in portraiture, and I often painted portraits of interesting people from my travels. I always wanted to paint animals and have done so on and off, but always found it daunting as there are so many incredible wildlife artists, and I somewhat struggled to find my unique voice.

I have been making life-size animal sculptures since my school days but they’ve always been a side-line to my paintings. Sculptures always excited me as I loved capturing the scale and presence of the animals, but I never had the opportunity to build a portfolio of sculptures. It wasn’t until lockdown and in particular my discovery of cardboard that everything together.

How did you discover your chosen medium?

I’ve always used recycled materials when making my animal sculptures, often trying to find materials that really represented the textures and colours I was trying to imitate, I sourced most of these from charity shops. It wasn’t until lockdown that I discovered cardboard. It was a combination of not having the access to the materials I usually use, lots of time to think, and cardboard stacking up from all those lockdown deliveries! Since then it’s become the fundamental material in my practice. It works perfectly for me as it means I can work on a large scale and still make my sculptures relatively light, it’s very accessible and versatile and it also means that my work is super sustainable and almost zero waste.

How do you support wildlife conservation and why do you choose to do so? My travels really inspired me to use my art to help. I did a lot of volunteering while I was away, most recently in a Costa Rican rescue centre working predominantly with orphaned howler monkeys and sloths. I also went to a lot of places where I was shocked by the negative impacts of humanity on the natural world, specifically plastic waste. One image that really sticks out to me was from a visit to the Galapagos a few years ago, I went to a beach where you can see sea lions, and there must have been hundreds of them on this beach, which was incredible. Yet on every open area of beach there were thousands of bottles and cans. It was obviously heart-breaking, and scenes like this have become a driving force in my desire to help animals. I recently had my first solo show at Woolff Gallery, and we decided to give 10% of sales to Born Free to aid their fantastic conservation efforts. Thankfully the show was a success and we managed to raise some money! I’m planning to do a lot more of this kind of thing, as well as to donate some of my sculptures to

auction to raise money for conservation charities. I would also love to do more volunteering to help on the frontline.

What has been your biggest learning curve as an artist? I think it’s how to deal with setbacks and creative blocks. Because art is such a personal thing, for me it always felt really disappointing and painful to suffer rejection, for example not getting shortlisted for a competition, or having a commission fall through. Equally, I’ve found creative blocks extremely tough, and disheartening. In fact, even within the process of creating one piece, I

have crazy ups and downs! What I’ve learned with more experience is that this is normal for me, and apparently for most artists, so I can deal with it slightly better now!

What is your favourite/ most enjoyable part of being a wildlife artist? I love the part of the process when the animal starts to come to life and I can start to feel that connection, I find that really exciting. I’m also just so grateful to be doing what I love every day, and I’m even happier that I get the opportunity to give back to the animals that inspire me through my artwork.

Bull Elephant Josh Gluckstein
Bull Elephant

‘Bull Elephant’

Recycled cardboard and tissue paper


My favourite piece is my African Bull Elephant, it’s one of my most recent sculptures and it was one I envisaged making for a long time.

I think the cardboard works perfectly to capture both the colour and the texture of the elephant’s skin. I think it has a very gentle but powerful emotion, and I also just loved making it!

Which species are you most involved or interested in supporting through conservation projects?

I think if I had to choose, it would be primates. My favourite experiences have

been seeing or working with monkeys and apes. Because they are so closely related to us, you really feel their emotion, and that really speaks to me. Orangutans in particular fascinate me, and having seen the effects of deforestation in Borneo, I feel really passionate about helping them. I’m also obsessed with scuba diving, and love the underwater world, so I’d love to make a portfolio about marine life.

If you were an animal, what would you be and why? 

I would like to be a house cat, lots of relaxing and freedom to do what I want! But my friends and family would probably say I’m more of a sloth because I can sleep anywhere and everywhere.

What is the best piece of advice you could give an aspiring wildlife artist? Perseverance. Even though it’s always been my dream to be an artist, and I’ve never really considered having a back-up option, it’s still been really difficult to get to the place I am at now, where I feel confident about what I’m making. So don’t be afraid to experiment, and keep practicing! In terms of being a wildlife artist, I follow lots of incredible wildlife artists to see how they are giving back. Once you start to sell, you can give a percentage to animal charities, you can enter competitions which support conservation like David Shepherd Wildlife Artist of the Year. You can also raise awareness through your social media channels when you share your work.

To see more of Josh’s work, head over to his website or follow along on Instagram.

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