Josh Madden: Creative Tornado
Photography by Ashley Osborne
Josh Madden is a legit creative tornado. Founder of the MDDN artist services agencies, Creative Director of streetwear brands XLARGE and x-girl, and he’s a rather handy stylist too. Meaning, he gets up really early and goes to bed really late. “I think everything works together. I think I’m okay, getting better all the time. If you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready,” he tells us from his LA home. We get to talking about musical influences and naturally, his list is long, ranging from Fugazi to Popcaan, Tricky to Gorilla Biscuits.
MDDN and MDDN Creative, that he founded with brothers Benji and Joel, are always an epicenter of inspiration and support for him. “The relationship we have with the artists and our team is where it all begins,” he explains. “I really enjoy discovering things and I’m proud of what we’ve done with XLARGE and x-girl, brands that had huge influence on us coming up. I’m real obsessed with bringing all of these creative influences to the world on a larger scale.”
MDDN’s got a reputation for caring about their artist’s voices. A rarity in a world where clients, creatives, directors, and stylists can steamroll their visions over a musician’s intent. But Josh steadfastly believes in remaining loyal to the
music creators. “I kinda feel like I’m everyone’s brother — it was always like that with artists, I hope it always is,” he says.
“I think working with artists is about bringing all the years of experience and study, and just helping support their
vision. If people ask for ideas, I’m always ready. As a creative director, you’ve gotta be able to execute, so a lot of my time is thinking stuff up and figuring out how we’ll do it. It helps that I’ve done a lot of different jobs over the past 30 years.”
How does he switch off from it all? Getting into nature. “I went hiking with Salehe Bembury [VP of Sneakers and Men’s Footwear at Versace] recently on this secret hike of his, one of the best hikes I’ve been on.”
And he communes with the simple. “I gotta tell you, any mundane task like showering or doing dishes, laundry, any manual labor is so important to me. Anything where I zone out and forget what I’m doing, that’s when ideas happen — you know like that Magic Eye poster in Mallrats — where you can’t see the image if you stare too hard? It’s like that, I have to think about something else to get an answer.”