Spinnin’ That Curious Sense of His Own

Joshua Marc Levy
Portrait by Amy Kalyn Sims

Two years ago, Joshua Marc Levy’s wife, Amy Kalyn Sims, went to a psychic with hopes of reaching her late father. But the medium connected with Levy’s family instead: his dad, his grandma, and even a distant relative who was a textile designer in Europe. 

“Being an artist is a lonely profession, and that made me feel not so alone anymore,” the illustrator tells Asheville Made. “I became a true believer.”

Levy now prays each day to God, spirits of the higher realm, and deceased relatives and friends. Prayer is as much a part of his creative process as picking up a pencil. But that doesn’t mean his work is stuffy or straitlaced. 

Quite the contrary: It’s infused with a heady dose of psychedelia.

Surrender Your Poppy Field

“I love drawing roses, strawberries, melting and morphing imagery, angels, UFOs, rats, sharks, broken televisions, turtles, tacos, wolves, astrological themes, surfers, and Buddha,” lists Levy. “I’m also into mashing it all up.”

He started drawing as a kid in Edison, New Jersey. After seeing her son’s potential, Levy’s mother enrolled him in college-level fine-arts classes once a week. “She pushed me toward a career that could be extremely unstable, but she believed in me to a level I can’t even imagine,” he says. 

The works in Levy’s Jerry series gained attention beyond Grateful Dead fandom.

After high school, Levy received a full scholarship to The School of Visual Arts in New York City, where his instructors connected him with high-profile gigs designing film posters for HBO, Showtime, and SyFy. Then, from 2006 to 2010, he transitioned to the music industry, working with some of the most eminent bands in the world, including AC/DC, The Black Crowes, and Santana.   

A Strange and Unusual Place

In 2011, Levy left the majors behind and moved to Western North Carolina, where his wife has family roots in Black Mountain. But he hasn’t stopped drawing. With a packed portfolio, Levy has successfully carved out a tight niche here in the 828. He’s designed gig posters for nationally recognized bands including Widespread Panic, The Revivalists, and Lee “Scratch” Perry as well as local groups like The Fritz and The Snozzberries. 

Rats of NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health)

Levy has also waded into the food-and-beverage industry, producing logos and posters for eateries including Ukiah Japanese Smokehouse. The ink drawing for Ukiah frames the restaurant’s Biltmore Avenue facade with cartoonish crabs and bowls of ramen. It’s modern and clean — but it’s undeniably Levy.

On The Way (from the upcoming album by Wayland, “On The Way”)

This mind-bending whimsy is evident in Levy’s 2018 Jerry print series, a collection that earned him a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2021. The original ink drawing of Jerry Garcia was modeled after an image by Rolling Stone photographer Baron Wolman, executed by Levy in trippy, labyrinthine lines. 

“We are millions of different people,” says Levy, “with different interests and locations that shape our vastly different realities.”

Joshua Marc Levy, Asheville. Levy is represented by Asheville Art Family; he curates work for Push Skate Shop (25 Patton Ave., Asheville, pushskateshop.com) and sells prints there and at Asheville Hydroponics & Organics (44 Buck Shoals Road, Suite F6-7, Arden, ashevillehydro.com). For more information, see ashevilleartfamily.com.

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