News Column

Lure of art kept calling and Oxnard artist Joshua burns finally answered

June 8, 2014

By Jeffrey Dransfeldt, Ventura County Star, Calif.

June 08--Joshua Burns bided his time drawing in his spare time.

He had a secure job making a comfortable income at a paper mill in Port Hueneme. It provided the financial resources he needed to maintain a reasonable quality of life.

By ignoring his dreams, Burns felt incomplete. Art has long been his passion going back to childhood. The best way to satisfy that lingering desire started Burns along the path to becoming a full-time artist who leaves his artistic touch in Ventura County, Los Angeles and beyond.

His canvas is ever changing. One day he can be painting the side of a building in downtown Los Angeles, the next he's creating a sign for Trader Joe's.

This wide-open realm of possibility helps drive his passion for art. The diverse nature of his art can be seen on his Facebook page, The Camarillo resident has decorated the inside of garages and garage doors, children's bedrooms, storefronts and much more.

"It's just something new all the time," he said. "I never know what I'm going to do. Half the time I haven't even done what I'm going to do. I have an idea. I learn on the job a lot of times. It always comes out."

Burns, 31, who grew up in Oxnard and Camarillo, remembers riding in the car with family on the back roads of Ventura County and looking out the window to see graffiti on tarps in farm fields.

"I would be doing drawings in the air with my hands, just inspired by that," Burns said. "I couldn't believe people were doing that and not getting paid to do it, just putting it out there."

He spent endless hours drawing in his sketchbook. Teacher after teacher in school would tell him to stop drawing in class. His love of art only continued to grow.

Burns, who attended Camarillo High School his first three years of high school, spent his senior year at Oxnard High before graduating in 2000. His first paid art gig consisted of creating the paper art pieces that the Yellowjackets football team would run through on Friday nights upon entering the stadium

Burns, who worked a variety of jobs in grocery stores and retail, spent 2002-06 at what was then Willamette Industries paper mill helping to create paper. The job, consisting of 12-hour shifts, two morning shifts followed by two night shifts, left him further from his goal of becoming a professional artist.

"Great job, great money," Burns said. "I could have settled down and got a house. I didn't hate it, it was a cool job but I wasn't doing anything that I felt was benefiting society. I was making paper for the world."

He realized he could stick with what was comfortable, or take a chance and do what he loved.

"All I did for 12 hours was sit there and draw on these little cards, these little card stock papers they had," Burns said. "It was basically do that for the rest of my life or start right now (and) take off."

Burns made the leap and moved to Los Angeles, where he studied animation at the Art Institute of California in 2006. He began working for Trader Joe's in Santa Monica as well. The life transition proved to be liberating for Burns.

"I was just happy," he said. "It was a total life change. That's when I realized that money isn't everything -- not at all. You could be rich and still be totally unsatisfied."

Burns, who enjoys the hands-on aspect of art, realized working in animation meant more time spent with computers. So after two years of art school, he stepped away. Burns continued working with Trader Joe's and branched out to do more freelance projects.

Burns, whose extended family lives in Ventura County, made the choice to move back to the area in 2011. The Trader Joe's in Camarillo didn't have an opening for an artist, but a position to be a standard employee. He took it, and worked his way into becoming the store's lead artist.

Burns would have a list of things to create, and the creative freedom to make them in his vision.

"It's like your own art gallery," Burns said. "Once you have a store for a while, you have everything in there."

His focus remained on growing as an artist and working independently. In July 2013, he stopped working full-time for Trader Joe's and now works out of his studio at his home. Burns freelances for the grocery chain, as well for projects in Los Angeles and beyond. He's currently spending two weeks in Edmonton in Canada to paint a restaurant.

Camarillo native Jeff Hahn, who bought Mission Oaks Cafe in Camarillo with his wife, Karen, in January, used Burns to create a "Fresh Specials" sign for the inside of the restaurant.

"He's a great young man, very talented and we'll probably use him in the future for different things that we need," Hahn said.

The children in Burns' family have taken up his passion for art. Burns has a daughter, Athena, 4, and his fiancee, Janne Maynes, has two children, Mircea, 6, and Josh, 2.

"I have stacks and stacks of their watercolors," Burns said. "Every time I'm painting, I'll set them up with a little thing and they'll go to town. I save every one of them."


(c)2014 Ventura County Star (Camarillo, Calif.)

Visit Ventura County Star (Camarillo, Calif.) at

Distributed by MCT Information Services

For more stories covering arts and entertainment, please see HispanicBusiness' Arts & Entertainment Channel

Source: Ventura County Star (CA)

Story Tools Facebook Linkedin Twitter RSS Feed Email Alerts & Newsletters