SHOP (SOON)

Who am I?

My name is Josie Watson and I am an argentinean artist of Scottish descent. I am recognized in my country for the series of paintings “Automatic City” inspired in the City of Buenos Aires (my homeland) that introduced me to the local market at a very young age. Through this series of paintings and my interest in technology since childhood I would introduce my self in the inmersive realities world where art and technology fusion to express the new digital era identity in it’s own new art genre: IT-Art. 

"Femme-Automatique" painting, photo taken on 2011.

 A young art career

I started to paint and exhibit my work at the age of 10 thanks to the tutoring of many argentinean renowned artists who treated me as a colleague from the beginning. They all agreed I needed to study art on my own because I had a unique style, which was rare to happen at such an early age and could get incorrectly influenced by attending their classes. As I was already disciplined and committed to my art I followed their advice and frequented their ateliers as a friend to collaborate and enjoy each other’s art while creating my own studio at my parents home and painting daily. By the age of 19 I was working as an assistant in an art auction house which also gave me the understanding on the real economics of arts. This way I could accomplish all the aspects of an art career from a young age. 

"Femme-Automatique" at an Auction Exhibition at Arroyo Remates, Buenos Aires 2011.

First sales 

The paintings of my series “Automatic City” were introduced to the market in 2010-11 (when I was 20 years old) through one of my art colleagues, Adolfo Nigro, who presented them to a galerist. A peculiarity, only the few people that knew me directly knew my age,  but in the art scene of Buenos Aires people guessed that by my name I should be a man of 60 years old. This was also because of the size and quality of the paintings, for how long my CV showed that I have been exhibiting my work and the coherence of my visual work. 

Congreso Nacional Buenos Aires WatsOnArt Josie Watson Arte
"Como llueve de abajo para arriba" painting by Josie Watson.

From “emerging” to “consecrated” artist

Through the years I achieved top sales in the “Emerging artists” category. In 2014 I was invited to exhibit at the British Arts Center where I did a large exhibition in which 80% of the paintings were already owned by collectionists of the city. The exhibition was displayed on a three floored gallery and attracted the attention of many gallerists and curators. In 2016 my painting inspired in the National Congress of Argentina was auctioned in the “Consecrated artists” category positioning me together with my art colleagues. The painting was bought as a gift for an important argentinian politician.

 

Need of innovation

Since then I had the chance to exhibit almost anywhere I applied to, but by 2016 the exuberance and solemnity of saloons and museums felt empty to me. I felt that there was something missing between the painting and the viewer. Without being completely sure of what I was doing but following my intuition, I invited some friends and artists who’s creative work I admired to create a collaborative exhibition inspired by the same series of paintings. They all gave me their own professional approach to the series and I created a plan to fusion all the feedback. None of them really knew what we were doing until the very first exhibition that took place at the art space of Banco Ciudad (the official bank of the city of Buenos Aires).

 

First exhibition “Automatic City of Buenos Aires”

We jointly created an interactive exhibition inspired by the city we lived in, where traditional art forms (paintings, drawings, sculptures, and an installation) were fusioned with technological forms such as sensors, lights, mapping projections, augmented reality and interactive features. Under my art direction, each fusion was fused to enhance the art in a way that would connect the tangible form to the digital form, and by doing so I found that the new generations have a new understanding of art. A new concept was born that, I trust, will very soon develop into a new art genre that I called IT-Art.

 

"Bombonera" painting and IT-Art by Josie Watson.

Millennial =  Born in a world in a crisis

In 2017 the economic crisis in Argentina was bad again and made us all work extra hours or double work to get enough money to pay the bills, besides our creative projects. Our time to meet was reduced by this and the energy each of the artists could give was limited. So I decided to take the exhibition into my own hands and turned it into a project under my direction and focus on taking the best out of each artist’s time. We were all highly motivated, so having someone devoted to the project 24 hs was crucial to accomplish our goals.

For this, I lowered my own working hours, reduced my income, learned to live with the essentials, quit many activities and only kept my work as a muralist for “Proyecto Balvanera”, a neighbors activity to paint the gray fachades our district. Someone was needed to direct this new project and I was the one who could really understand each artist’s creation and take it further into a bigger project. I could see it’s future.

 

Interactive Instalation at Banco Ciudad, 2017.
Interactive Performance at Theatre Santos4040, 2017.

You are Josie Watson?

The project exhibitions demanded social media marketing and a Sponsor. I presented myself to the Banco Ciudad, private sponsors, the city of Buenos Aires government and some investors. Almost every time I heard the same expression I had heard many times since I started exhibiting my work since the age of 10: “You are Josie Watson? We were expecting to meet a old man of around 60ish… not such a young woman!”. Believe me, that may sound like a funny anecdote but it also brought many sexist situations, insinuations, pre-judgments, discrimination and twelfth different stories of different people intending to manipulate the project. I took all this experiences as necessary learning for something worthy coming later.

You are Josie Watson?

The project exhibitions demanded social media marketing and a Sponsor. I presented myself to the Banco Ciudad, private sponsors, the city of Buenos Aires government and some investors. Almost every time I heard the same expression I had heard many times since I started exhibiting my work since the age of 10: “You are Josie Watson? We were expecting to meet a old man of around 60ish… not such a young woman!”. Believe me, that may sound like a funny anecdote but it also brought many sexist situations, insinuations, pre-judgments, discrimination and twelfth different stories of different people intending to manipulate the project. I took all this experiences as necessary learning for something worthy coming later.

Josie Watson and Carlos Leiza, Head director of Art and Pledge Department of Banco Ciudad, 2017.

First fundings

I gained the Banco Ciudad (Official bank of the city of Buenos Aires) sponsorship for a year and two public funds, one to keep my activities social mural activities in my neighbourhood and the other one for the exhibitions production. I also received private funding from a collectionist who knew me for several years and for whom I had created a special painting “Alta en el cielo”. The inspiration for the painting came from his -positive- farewell to his dad, with whom he used to walk to the obelisk every Sunday for many years. He chose some characters, the place represented and some colours. When I told him about this exhibition he didn’t doubt that he would sponsor us. In a country in crisis, each support was essential, as my main worry was to pay the artist’s work to create and maintain a solid network.

WatsOnArt

The bank’s sponsorship helped us make the exhibition itinerant for one year and for each presentation develop each fusion a little bit further into this new concept. When the period was over I turned all my new know-how into an art brand which I called WatsOnArt.

It took me a while to find the name for my art brand. It was on 2008, ten years before, while I was chilling with one of my eledest sisters, Vicky Watson, under our parents backyard straw hut that she said to me: “When you grow up you are going to have your own business and it’s going to be called WatsOnArt!”. I remembered this right after I wrote down “WATSONART” on a shit of blank sheet of paper.

 WatsOnArt is a future collaborative IT-Art platform-to-be that currently provides immersive value to paintings as a minimum viable product. In detail, it’s an Augmented Reality App that extends the story told by the art pieces through a display of digital animation, capturing the viewers attention back towards the tangible painting.

With WatsOnArt I produce interactive artistic experiences focused on cultural heritage content. Each production merges the effort of artists from different disciplines working remotely for one main goal: the creation of a collaborative IT-Art piece.

I funded WatsOnArt with a three based cyclic method of production intertwined by the concept of Interactivity through IT-Art:

– Art Production: Automatic City exhibitions inspired by cities of the world.
– IT Development: Development of collaborative platform for IT-Art.
– Products: Production and sale of IT-Art products.

 

 

First products

In decemeber 2018 I created the first IT-Art products and tested its sales in Buenos Aires. Results were successful and showed me they worked perfect to bring this new art form closer to an audience not familiar with immersive content or even not close enought to arts.

 

Following Gardel’s steps

The economic crisis was striking back in Argentina by January 2019. I joined the big brain rush of millennial tired of having everything so difficult in Latinamerica and bought one-way ticket trip to Europe with absolutely no plan. I would only follow my intuition, the one that had lead me to the creation of WatsOnArt. If something was certain was that I needed to go on a trip to learn more about this new form of art. For this I had to close down my art studio and say farewell to the city, my homeland, that had inspired me initially.  

It is said that to be recognized in your country you have to find success somewhere else first. That’s the story of Carlos Gardel, one of Argentina’s most renown tango musicians who’s music was only acclaimed when he came back from finding success in Paris.

First Interactive Exhibition at Banco Ciudad, July 2017.