Joseph Ziolkowski is a fourth-generation Montanan, born in 1975 in Lewistown, Montana.
As a young artist, he was influenced by his family, many of whom art artists themselves, Joe has been immersed in the arts for as long as he can remember. Influences on his path as an artist include. Clarence Cuts The Rope, a deceased local artist, taught Joe’s brother Peter sculpting and painting for some time in the early 80s. Several of Joe’s earliest memories of watercolor painting are with Peter in the kitchen of their parent’s home in Central Montana. Anne Armont, a wellknown oil painter who worked for Joe’s father, taught Joe oil painting classes in the late 80s. Gordon Russel; Joes Lewistown Junior High art teacher, is a diverse artist in many mediums and a much-appreciated figure of the Lewistown arts and educations system. The late Jim Borgreen, a Montana wildlife artist who won many awards and was a large contributor to Ducks Unlimited, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and outdoor organizations, was Joe’s art teacher in high school.
After high school, Joseph Ziolkowski pursued his studies in graphic design and illustration at the Seattle Art Institute. After graduating in 1997 with a degree in Visual Communications, he did contract work for two years for Humongous Entertainment, a children’s animation company in Redmond, Washington. Two years of company life was enough for him and he wanted something much more from the core of our creative source. Joe happened to meet Dan Deegan, a kindred spirit at Pikes Place Market where Dan sold his work. He was fortunate enough to apprentice under the wellknown Seattleite, watercolor guru, exmarine, and Vietnam veteran Dan Deegan. For close to two years, Joe did underpainting, matting, framing as well as common duties and home construction for the militant 50-year-old artist. Dan’s lessons were straightforward and old school. After Dan’s untimely death by cancer in August 1999, Joe chose to move back to his roots in Montana.
Under the nurturing wing of his mother Etoile, he progressed in building a small body of work. She had Joe signed up for shows within a year and was networking like a queen bee. Clearly, nothing had changed from the early childhood years when she would drag him to art classes at the local art center. The move back home brought not only a new chapter with his art and family but a new soulmate in Bree Stanley and her daughter, Hayden. Bree and Hayden were a new source of inspiration and grounding energy for him, and in August 2002 they were happily married. With the new changes in his life, Joseph Ziolkowski found that being an artist in Montana is an even tougher game. As the population of most towns in Montana, sales were small and far and few between. Art was not cutting it and like most Montana artists, Joe needs to supplement his income with the dreaded “real job.” In the same month of the wedding, Joe took another plunge and made his favorite color brown when he was hired on with U.P.S. as a part-time employee. Since then Joe has completed several commissioned works, illustrated a children’s book titled, “Piper Finnigan and the Rainforest Cure,” and recreated local pictographs as hangable artwork for the public.