Joonbug’s Visuals Melt Space & Time

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A Jamaica native moving to Oakland by way of Dallas. That’s how Joonbug describes the places he’s called home. Born and raised in the countryside of St. Ann’s Bay, Jamaica, Lenworth McIntosh, known to friends and creatives as Joonbug, has been nice with the visuals for a minute now. Like lots of minutes. Like since he was three maybe four.

Joonbug says his uncle discovered his gifts first. “I just drew the house I lived in,” Joonbug remembers, “I drew some perspectives on it, and I guess he was impressed,” he recalls nonchalantly.

You might call Joonbug an observer, constantly in transit, with a camera around his neck. Skilled in various visual forms, Joonbug’s illustration work has garnered widespread recognition leading to vibrant collaborations with Leon Bridges and Complex Magazine. Meanwhile his photography work blends time and space, weaving both together into timeless moments.

 

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Adaptation and assimilation have both been central to Joonbug’s development; the places he’s called home both starkly dissimilar and yet equally formative.

“Florida is pretty close to Jamaica in terms of the people and culture.” Joonbug recalls.  “Cause you have Haitians, Jamaicans, and everything else because it’s so close to the Caribbeans. I was in Fort Lauderdale, and that felt more comfortable because I would go out on the street and I would hear someone speaking Patois or someone speaking Creole. It was easier to adapt to that environment, and I stayed there for a few years and then I moved back to Texas.

Texas was Texas remembers Joonbug. With a hint of familiarity and a healthy dose of the absurd,

“Once I came back then it was kind of back into this weird environment again you know? Not too many people like me… And that was interesting, I just kind of focused on drawing and I had this select group of friends. And we were kind of like the nerds, definitely not the cool kids.

But we knew how to draw and I played basketball a lot. I was more of a streetball kind of guy, I never played for school or whatever. But basketball and drawing were my outlets. And I just made friends in both circles.”

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The night before we sat down with Joonbug, we ran into him at Faiza Farrah’s Third Space Talk. Entitled the “The Role of the Artist,” the event featured a conversation with Natalie Baszile of Queen Sugar. Having both received much perspective from the night before, we posed the same question to Joonbug. Considering the cultural climate in the Bay Area and beyond what is the role of the artist in today’s social and political landscape?

In Joonbugs words:

I feel it was Nina Simone quote of artists reflecting the times. I feel as though for artists it’s your duty to reflect the times. There are always ways to reflect that that are unique to yourself.

We all have different ways that we can do that. And we all have certain subjects we can bring light to. I feel like there’s an indirect form of that and a direct form of that. There’s a way where you can just hit in on the head, or you can kind of come in with a soft impact and leave them with an after thought.

I’m more of an after thought guy. 

Because if you can do something to where it will strike a chord with someone, it can resonate with them on a deeper level.

“Centers Shooting Threes” for Complex Magazine 

Illustrations by Joonbug

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Joonbug is a multi-faceted visual artist, illustrator and photographer. He currently resides in Oakland, by way of Jamaica and Dallas. Keep up with his photographic work by following @shutterbugs87 and his illustrations at @thebugs87. All imagery and photography by Joonbug, unless otherwise noted.

Max Gibson

Max Gibson aka Dispo Max is a journalist, web curator and entrepreneur. He is the founder of Wine & Bowties, an Oakland-based art and culture publication with the focus of celebrating creativity. Today Max resides in Oakland after living in LA. Max loves hoop, dispos and good jokes.