Joseph Kaftan was born in northeastern Wisconsin. His mother was a newspaper photographer and his father a self-taught mosaicist. Encouraged by his parents, Joseph began drawing and painting at a young age. He later studied art at UW-Madison and graphic design at American University. He worked as a graphic designer, his favorite projects were creating CD and book covers.
In 2006, he began his first mosaic as a way to engage with his father who had suffered a stroke. He connected with the experience but after his father’s passing, the mosaic was not finished until 2012. While completing this work, he fell in love with the medium all over again and began making mosaics in earnest.
His work is fueled by the way glass holds and reflects light and its ability to expresses translucence—especially when it is used to suggest water, fish scales or bird feathers.
Searching for the iconic and sacred in the everyday, Joseph is looking for the most fundamental stories of nature, and it is these interactions that excite him to make mosaics.
Inspired by water touching land and waves meeting sky, Joseph spends as much time as he can teaching kayaking, snorkeling, fishing, foraging shellfish and walking the beaches.
Joseph makes his home and studio in Seattle on the Puget Sound and in Wisconsin at his cottage on Lake Michigan.