Real Life Minimalists: Joshua Vegas

Every Monday I post Real Life Minimalists, a profile of one of my readers in their own words. If you’d like to participate, click here for details.

Many people have asked me how to reconcile minimalism with creative pursuits. Well today, I’d like to introduce you to minimalist artist Joshua Vegas, who both lives and creates by a “less is more” philosophy. Please visit his website to see more of his work.

Joshua writes:

Artwork by Joshua Vegas

Artistically, I’m known as Joshua Vegas, but my real name is Nneka Atto. I’m an emerging self-taught graphite pencil artist from Toronto, Canada, and my works possess a minimalist flair. Art has always been one of my passions, and I have been drawing and doodling since childhood. After experimenting with various media, I settled upon using graphite pencil to create artwork due to both its accessibility and versatility. No matter where I am, as long as I am in the company of some pencil and paper, I can create art. My work is largely influenced by minimalist philosophy, for I truly do believe that “less is more.” Once the excess has been eliminated, all that is left are those elements that have extraordinary significance, the most value. And this is what my artwork aims to depict. Also, being a graphite pencil artist, I tend to see the world in “black-and-white.” What my work may lack in spectral colour is made up for in sweeping greys, stark whites, and resonant blacks. Only when the world is stripped down to its bare minimum—when everything that surrounds you is in black-and-white—is when you are truly able to see that which is important.

Ever since becoming a minimalist artist, creating art in the style of minimalism, I’ve found that I enjoy creating artwork so much more. I have always loved it, but minimalism forces me to be that much more creative because I have to use less. I also spend less time on each piece, which allows me to focus more on, as well as generate, all of the ideas that I have swimming about in my head. Minimalist art is freeing, in that sense, which adheres to the very nature of the lifestyle and philosophy itself.

Generally, I feel that what the first world needs is a heavy dose, a strong surge, of minimalism. We have so much in our possession, yet we are taught to never be satisfied and to always want more. Of course, we are made to believe as such, for that is the way that a capitalist world works–but I digress. Despite owning, possessing, and clinging to all of these things, we, as a collective people, are not happier. Everyday, thousands of people wake up and slave over a job that they hate, for instance, just to pay the bills for all of their stuff, and then buy even more stuff to placate themselves with because they are not happy. Thus, the vicious cycle continues again and again.

But it’s encouraging to know that the secret to true, innate happiness cannot be bought. Why? For it is already inherent within each one of us. If we were all to let go, to minimize, the world would be a much happier place.

And that truly is encouraging.

To see some samples of my minimalist artwork, please visit my website at
Peace, love, and happiness,

{If you’d like to learn more about minimalist living, please consider reading my book, The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide, or subscribing to my RSS feed.}

13 comments to Real Life Minimalists: Joshua Vegas

  • Love these minimalists, I have gone off track recently and need them to get motivated again :)

  • I really enjoyed the samples of your art,m as well as your post here – amazing what the imagination can fill in when there is space left for it. (That’s why my favourite music note is the rest or pause).
    Thanks for providing more inspiration for me to focus on the space and imagination in my own art :-)

  • Love your work! Love Toronto too (grew up just outside the city).

    I love your post and I agree. I am a writer and my husband is a photographer. So many creative people seem to struggle with minimalism, and have said on my blog they can get rid of everything but their huge piles of creative stuff. I have a computer to write, and my husband has a camera, backdrop and light and otherwise we have very little belongings. Creativity fuels life, but it has to be able to come with you and add to your life instead of weighing it down (like you talk about).

    Keep up the awesome drawing!

  • This article really resonated with me. The way you have spoken about art is how I feel about writing. I believe that less is more, and am currently working on writing shorter, more concise, yet still meaningful posts. I have so many ideas, but writing lengthly posts really can impede pursuing the ones I feel are most significant. Thanks also for the great introduction to your art- Your work is very inspiring!

  • Your artwork is incredible! You really do have a passion for something that I believe many of us will envy and I am happy that the philosophy of minimalism is fuelling your creativity. It’s certainly a change from all the busy, post modern, art that is still so popular today.

    Thanks for sharing :)

  • I love your artwork! I, too, have found it easier to be creative with less stuff.

  • Yve

    First forgive me for my simple English.
    I live a minimalist life, minimalism serves me, it works for me. I’m also an artist, studying art at university to let my true passion blossom.
    Artist shouldn’t struggle with incorporating minimalism in their artsy practices. It’s simple really; minimalism should serve you and your art. You must not serve minimalism, nor should your art.
    When you notice you need more stuff for producing art and enhancing and stimulating your inspiration, DO so! Don’t sell your artist self short.
    How I incorporate minimalism in my artsy practices? I have exactly the number off stuff I need, no more and no less. Regurarly I go through my art stuff, bringing old dried out paints to recycling, giving away materials I don’t need or want to use anymore. Scanning sketches and photographing works I want to keep for inspiration but don’t need for sale or expo. Buying e-art books whenever possible. Selling art books I have used but don’t need again in the near future, I make mind maps of my art books , scan the mind map, sell the book and throw away the mind map on paper.
    Whenever possible I buy good, second hand materials. I work consciously, appreciating what I use, even when it’s a lot, and get rid of it when it’ s not needed in the near future. Near being a year. It works for me. This way minimalism serves me in my art as well. Even though I need more tubes of paint than tshirts.

  • Rita

    To me personally, this is the most inspiring Real Life Minimalist post yet. Such a beautiful post and such beautiful art. There will always be beauty in the details, but the most beauty is found, though often overlooked, in the core of most things. When so much can be said with so little, I think we are expressing our most human qualities.

  • Tina

    The drawing is beautiful. One of the gifts I like to give children is a set of drawing pencils and some quality paper. And a good quality eraser. I think they get too many plastic toys.

  • Kathie

    Beautiful art, beautiful thoughts!

  • Tina

    Making art out of what would be thrown out. Envelopes from tea bags. Scraps left from other artists’ projects. Layering and making collages out of junk mail. Cutting papers to get the colors I need. We have decided to get the newspaper only on Sunday. We were getting it 4 days a week but that is a lot to recycle and we can read it at the library and on line. I would still like to get rid of 2 or 3 pieces of furniture and give them to my kids.

  • Tina

    My goal is to get rid of some more china, and more warm clothes in the closets. I found another big bag for Goodwill and started a new one .

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