California-based artist Joe Vaux paints intricate worlds filled with creatures of land, sea, and sky, illustrating stories with a childlike imagination, but also with dark undertones and a seasoned artist’s eye for detail. These (dark details) are what drew us to Joe’s work for this year’s ‘Muses of Mount Helikon,’ opening November 3rd. Here, Joe talks to us about his art-saturated upbringing, the development of his creative career, and his ongoing inspirations:

“I was going to be an astronaut, veterinarian for space beasts. I’m not sure what happened to that dream, but I also liked to build. My free time was filled with model/lego building, miniature painting, and drawing. I would spend hours, sometimes days transforming my room into another world. Epic battles between the forces of good and evil were fought in all four corners of this imagined place. Clean up after said battle was always a bitch, but great fun was had.

"The Great Dismantling"
“The Great Dismantling”

I am the son of two talented artists. Both parents taught art at universities on Long Island, as well as created beautiful works of their own at home (search- Richard Vaux and Sandra Benny). I was surrounded by the arts. Weekends were often spent playing in the back room of a gallery that was host to one of my parents’ art. I didn’t pay much attention to the exhibits but I enjoyed the scene. It wasn’t until late in high school that I stepped out of my dreamland and realized that my career needed to be something in the creative field. This was the time that I really leaned on my folks for advice. They helped me build a portfolio and get my shit ready for the next level. That’s when I fell in love with art.

"Head in the Clouds"
“Head in the Clouds”

A few years after my years at Syracuse University, I landed a job in animation painting backgrounds. It was thanks to Ralph Bakshi, a wizard in the animation world, who took me under his wing in New York. So, in 1996, my fiancé and I moved to Socal (it’s hard to believe that it’s been twenty years). The animation work has been a constant during these twenty. I’ve worked on a bunch of different shows, the most recent being Family Guy. Right now, I’m Directing episodes for season 15.

“Level 3”

Inspiration for my work has always come from my love of fantasy, my odd interpretation of the world around, and my peers. I’m lucky to go to work everyday and be surrounded my amazing energetic talent. Seeing other people’s creations and drive is my greatest source of motivation.

"Season of the Rabbit"
“Season of the Rabbit”

When I get my ass to sit down to paint, I’m a one painting at a time kind of guy. I need to finish an idea before my head can wrap itself around something new.”


Thank you to Joe for participating in our interview! See his work in ‘Muses of Mount Helikon IV’ at Helikon Gallery alongside work by 20 additional artists from around the US.
Opening Reception: Thursday, Nov 3, 6-10pm
First Friday Reception: Nov 4, 6-10pm
First Friday Reception: Dec 2, 6-10pm
On view Nov 3 – Dec 10, 2016

To view more of Joe’s work visit
For more information about Helikon Gallery and Studios visit

Available works


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Gallery is closed for hanging, we re-open 3/10 Dismiss