With a background in finance, the last thing Joe Micacchione expected to find himself doing today is art. Yet the brand new, self-taught abstract artist is making a name for himself in Atlanta with his colorful and expressive pieces.
For Micacchione, his art represents his decision to take newfound control over his life and create joy for himself. By December 2021, he had spent seven years in the world of finance, graduating from UGA and working at companies like Fidelity and Invesco. However, he left the industry after the sudden realization that he wasn’t happy.
“Out of [my career], I got into a darker place, a little bit of depression and wondering what I was going to do for the rest of my life,” Micacchione said. “I wasn’t happy with work.”
It was in September when he decided to do something about his depression and picked up a paintbrush.
“[My painting practice] developed over a month into something I did every day,” he said. “I started realizing that [painting] was what made me the happiest and work was something I dreaded five days a week. So, I started reevaluating my focus, and that became painting.”
The artist was immediately drawn to abstract art. His pieces consist of bright swirls, shapes, and swaths of color spanning a variety of techniques. He sees the medium as a means of expressing himself and his life philosophy.
“[My art is like] the way I live my life: it’s very abstract with pops of color,” he said. “I was never really drawn to realism. For me, I just start with a blank canvas and let my emotions direct what happens. There’s beauty in the chaos, which is fun.”
As an expression of self, Micacchione’s art is also influenced by his sexuality. Living on the outskirts of heteronormativity as a gay man has more easily allowed him to pursue a nontraditional path for himself, one that is defined by his desires and passions and not what the external world expects of him.
“My sexuality has heightened creativity,” he said. “It’s pushed me to think outside the box and realize the traditional box is not where I need to be living. That’s where a lot of my depression came from: I was constantly trying to live in a box that someone else determined was right. That’s why I got into finance. Being a gay man, that has taught me that maybe nontraditional is the best way.”
Micacchione hopes that his art and his story will inspire others like him to forgo society’s expectations in pursuit of what truly makes them happy.
“There’s space in the art world for everyone to be creative,” he said. “… This has been super scary. It hasn’t been smooth sailing, but I would say — for me at least — the complacency was where I found my darkest times. When you do something that you’re not accustomed to, there’s an excitement that builds. The only way to get that excitement is to go out there and do it. For everybody out there reading this, if there’s anything you’ve been wanting to do, there’s never a right time. You just have to get out there and try it, because what is failure other than growth?”
Micacchione’s work is available for purchase on his website, jpmicacchione.com, starting at $425, and will be on sale at the Scott Antique Market March 10 through 13 at the Atlanta Expo Center (3650 Jonesboro Rd. SE). He also offers commissioned work where clients can customize the piece they’d like down to the size, color palette, and technique through his website. Micacchione is also doing pieces for the Schenck School for students with dyslexia and Pace Academy’s silent auction in April. For those looking to engage with his art on a deeper level, Micacchione posts behind-the-scenes clips of his artistic process on his Instagram, @j.micacchione.