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Art & Life with J.A. Medcalf

Today we’d like to introduce you to J.A. Medcalf.

J.A., please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
My creative story starts at an early age of cooped up in my room sketching. I used to love to draw cars, sports figures, celebrities and landscape architecture. I never really told my friends what I was up to but my Mom always took notice. Every holiday she always got me new sketchbooks and pencils to play with.

Early high school I put the pencil down and shifted my interested to CAD (Computer Aided Design). My Junior and Senior year I spent the mornings learning CAD at an offsite technical school and my afternoons in general curriculum classes. I did well in the program and received multiple awards for my engineered renderings.

After high school I went off to Western Michigan University where I majored in Engineering Graphics and Design but after my first year I realized outside of CAD the engineering curriculum was not it for me. I changed majors and finished out my undergraduate program with a Marketing Degree in 2011.

A few years after relocating to Chicago a friend gifted me a sketchbook and pencils because they never planned to use them. It had been nearly a decade since I sketched but once I got a hold of the new supplies I spent the rest of 2015 familiarizing myself with the craft. It wasn’t until the top of 2016 that I moved into my primary medium of painting. To my surprise my closest friends were blown away with the work I would produce and from that point forward I knew I had tapped into something special.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
My primary mediums include acrylic, oil and aerosol on canvas. The way I started producing artwork was to create the type of imagery I would want to hang on my walls. My subject matters are influenced by music, sports, culture, current events and architecture. I’ve made a few pieces that are a direct reflection of my own experiences and ironically those are some of my most revered artwork to date.

What would you recommend to an artist new to the city, or to art, in terms of meeting and connecting with other artists and creatives?
I am an extravert at heart but when I create I’m usually alone which initially took some getting used to. Over the last 2 years I’ve learned that there is an entire creative community of individuals I could learn from. By putting myself out there I’ve been blessed to work with some of the cities premiere Curators, Creative Agencies and Corporate Sponsors.

My advice to anyone that is looking to get started is to simply use what you got. That means leveraging anything from your personal network to social media. By taking it one step at a time I’ve learned to stretch to places of discomfort for the sake of growth. I do not recommend anyone ever doing anything they don’t want to do but also realizing staying in a place of comfort is often fueled by fears.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
Being in Chicago has been a great launching pad for my creative journey. There is no shortage of abundant opportunities to showcase my work around the city.

In this season I make it a point to participate in at least one public demonstration a month. This includes live paintings, gallery showcases and/or special collective projects.

Before the end of the year I have plans to host (2) more of my Taste & Paint experiences called Grape Canvas. This is a guided painting event paired with fine wine samplings by my partner Sommelier Derrick C. Westbrook.

Contact Info:

  • Website:
  • Email:
  • Instagram: @J.A.Medcalf
  • Facebook: Joe Medcalf

Image Credit:
Justin Mensinger

Getting in touch: VoyageChicago is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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