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Artisan Josh. His Journey From The Big House To His Mobile Tiny House. A True Story Of Redemption.

Aug. 4, 2022

Artisan Josh. His Journey From The Big House To His Mobile Tiny House. A True Story Of Redemption.

Do you dream of leaving the rat race behind and hitting the road in a tiny home? Today we meet Artison Josh who spent decades in prison and now roams the country in his tiny home. We get to hear about the incredible tiny home communities that are sprouting up around the United States. Artisan Josh is a tiny home dweller, builder and simple living advocate. Van life forever!

Do you dream of leaving the rat race behind and hitting the road in a tiny home? Today we meet Artison Josh who spent decades in prison and now roams the country in his tiny home. We get to hear about the incredible tiny home communities that are sprouting up around the United States. Artisan Josh is a tiny home dweller, builder and simple living advocate. Van life forever!

In this episode of Paul Vato Presents, we will learn: 1) What's it like to live in a SWAT conversion van for 11 days in front of 30 Rock for only $22 a day. 2) Why living in a tiny home is becoming a more viable option for more and more people world wide. 3) The very powerful and inspirational tiny home community that is exploding around the world.


Paul Vato is an on camera and voice actor, improvisor, podcaster and entrepreneur.

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Artisan Josh

Paul Vato: [00:00:00] All right, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Paul Vato Presents where my guest today is Artisan Josh, and he is here, so let me invite him up to the stage, invite to speak, Josh, I'm gonna make sure that everyone knows that we're here and invite everyone.

Welcome. Welcome. Welcome everyone. If you have any questions about being a tiny home dweller or what it takes or live life on the road, if you wanna live in a van, if you wanna live in an ambulance. I know that this may sound weird at first, but trust me, once you start meeting these people, it's incredible and it's something that I've been wanting to do so when Josh agreed to come on and chat with us, I was like, absolutely. Josh can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you're up to, what you're doing, or a little bit about your background?

Artisan Josh: Right now I am doing the Colorado Tiny House Festivals. There's two of 'em this month. The first one was the actual Colorado Tiny [00:01:00] House Festival. The second one is the People's Tiny House Festival coming up this weekend. But I've been a full time dweller, simple living advocate for five years now. I've lived in three different tiny homes. I've lived in a tiny house. I've lived in a schoolie and now I'm in a converted SWAT team vehicle. It's been an adventure. I put over 365,000 miles on my three houses in the last five years and I'm just loving life. I'm livin' it...

Paul Vato: That's brilliant, man. That is wonderful. You're literally, you're traveling all over the U.S. and maybe have you been to Canada as well or just the U.S.?

Artisan Josh: I haven't been out of the United States, so just within the continuous 48, I've done 39 of the 48 states over the last five years.

Paul Vato: That is so brilliant and wonderful. Where were you living before? Were you in a traditional house or condo or apartment?

Artisan Josh: I lived in a house, in a way, in a sort of sense, my past was rough. I don't know if you wanna go into that. I don't have any problem going into it.

Paul Vato: Sure.

Artisan Josh: I started out life rough. When I was nine years old me and another kid just happened to be walking through the neighborhood. It was [00:02:00] around Christmas time. We were just taking mail outta the mailboxes and we were ripping it up, just throwing it on the ground, nine year old kids, just being malicious. So I was sent away to a 30 day boot camp for that. What was supposed to be just a juvenile boot camp. After the 30 days was up, nobody came pick me up. For the next seven years I was in and out of group homes, juvenile institutions. I bounced around a lot between 28 group homes in the next seven years. I stayed in trouble. I really didn't understand anything different. I didn't learn anything different. It was a rough beginning. I wound up staying in trouble even after I became an adult. All together I did 24 years, nine months, 16 days and 11 hours in prison. In my life.

Paul Vato: Wow.

Artisan Josh: I didn't get off of parole and off of probation until 2017 and 71 days later, I had finished building my first tiny house [00:03:00] and sold everything I owned, left everything I knew behind and hit the road. I haven't looked back since, and it's been the freest most, most egregious act of self love I could give myself was to forget everything that I had learned in my past and learned new, I'm in essence this last five years, this lifestyle and more importantly, the community has given me a reason not to go back, community has given me a reason to appreciate tomorrow. That's been the one thing that the world has given back to me that I never thought I would ever recieve.

Paul Vato: Thank you for sharing that because not everyone would be willing to share that story, and that's incredible. There's almost so much irony in your story in that, that you grew up almost in this, well coincidence and irony, I think, because you grew up in this tiny environment, really being constricted and close and yet here you are still in a tiny [00:04:00] environment, but you're also ironically in a SWAT van.

Artisan Josh: Yeah. Yeah, kind a turn events there for sure.

Paul Vato: Yeah. You just can't seem to get out of the back of a patrol car, buddy.

Artisan Josh: That's a great way to put it.

Paul Vato: Yeah. Yeah. I think it's a great way to look at it, man. Congratulations because it's such a story of redemption that you have there, my friend, and I don't know if you do motivational speaking...

Artisan Josh: I do get up on stage for festivals. I've been a tiny house MC for festivals for going on three years now. I've actually MCed and done speaking engagements at 11 of the Tiny House Festivals...

Paul Vato: Wonderful.

Artisan Josh: It's been a release. It's been a way for me to talk about it, cleanly and plainly to somebody without having any regret in my heart, so that's good, I like doing it.

Paul Vato: Physically speaking, you have an amazing voice and I'm sure, you hear that from people all the time. I can see you doing voice over, acting, motivational speaking, TEDx talks, things like that. Again, what an incredible [00:05:00]redemption story, and it just shows you that men can change, humans can change, and it's great that you've decided to. You have so much to offer to the world besides your story, but your skills and things like that. You actually build homes for other people, tiny homes, is that what you specialize?

Artisan Josh: I do. So I'm kinda like Johnny on the Spot. Over the last five years, I've been traveling around the country, all over the country, helping other people, either complete their tiny homes or start a brand new build, one or the other. I say I'm Johnny on the Spot because I'm actually parked on the side of the road right now and I have a bus behind me. As soon as I get done with this chat, I'm going to build his front door. We're literally parked on the side of the road and I can just pull my tools out and build his front door right on the side of the road. No problem. He broke his glass and he was putting a glass door in so that he could see outta the side of his bus. I could just do it on the side of the road, pull up and build it right here. Yeah.

Paul Vato: I'm definitely just on the fringe of this community and you're really the [00:06:00] first one that got back to me and I just started reaching out to people. I found you so interesting cuz of the videos that I saw of you on YouTube, especially you're in a SWAT van because I think my ultimate one would be something exactly like what you have or a ambulance. So I'm on the fringe, but yet I'm seeing that there is such a community, you guys are so helpful to each other where it's like, Josh, I, can you help me build this door? You're like, yes, I can. I know other people are like, Hey, can you gimme some information on batteries or what systems to use? Everyone just seems to be so helpful. It's like these caravans sometimes where people traveling the U.S. or meeting up, like you said, in festivals, are you in Colorado right now or how far from Colorado are you?

Artisan Josh: I am in Colorado right now. I'm actually in Loveland. The festival is gonna be on the 16th (of July, 2022), it's the People's Fest. It'll be my first time attending this specific fest. Only because I was doing other ones across the country and I just happened to miss out on this one before, but this specific festival, will be [00:07:00] my first time, but they're all pretty much, I imagine, the same, I don't think it's gonna be any different this time. The community will be there. So come see us.

Paul Vato: Wonderful. Are there fees to attend these festivals?

Artisan Josh: Yeah, they have tickets just like at the door. I think this one's $10 at the door. You can get it $5 online.

Paul Vato: Wonderful. And I'm sorry, do you get charged to go there or do I?

Artisan Josh: As an attendee.

Paul Vato: Got it. Yeah because you're the entertainment, if you will.

Artisan Josh: We're yeah. We're the showcase. We're the showcase.

Paul Vato: So do you open your homes for people to peek in, jump in and is that?

Artisan Josh: Absolutely. All the doors are open. Everything's open, I'm standing there and you can go in, look around and, and get comfortable. If you want check it out, see how it fits you. You can do that with every house that's at the festival, and then we're standing right there by our dwelling so you can talk to us and ask us any questions and pull our ideas. Honestly, that's what it's for. It's for you to, as an attendee, to come to the show and pick our brains and get as much information as you [00:08:00] can about it and we are happy to show it. We love having our ego boost, yeah. We love to share any information we can absolutely give you.

Paul Vato: You should be happy to share that, you should be very proud of the work that you guys have done because the craftsmanship that I've seen in some of these builds is beyond, is bar none. It's phenomenal. I used to live on my boat in Marina Del Rey 15 years ago, so I'm used to a smaller space, but granted it was like a 43 foot yacht, so it wasn't bad, a forward cabin, an aft cabin, two heads, whatnot. The things that they are doing in tiny homes to me is incredible, showers, a toilet, if you will, the galley, some of them sleep four, some of them sleep eight, I've seen bunk beds. It's the crazy things that, that you're like, ooh! I could definitely live in something like this and travel the world. To me, it speaks to me directly because I have an idea for a travel show, where I travel the country and meet people that I've only met via social audio and social video. It'd be great to be able to say, Hey Josh, you know what, I'll be [00:09:00] in Colorado in a couple days, I don't know, it'll just take me a couple days to drive there or take my time and see the country that's such a great way of living, I think.

Artisan Josh: It is a phenomenal way of living. I tell people all the time that you can always go back. You can always get a house, you can always buy a piece of property. You can always accumulate your stuff again. That's no problem, but the experience that you will get from living tiny and going on the road, living simply and just living and experiencing life is more valuable than any dollar amount. It is way more valuable. The connection that you'll make with nature, the connection that you'll make with the community and the connection that you'll make with yourself are priceless. Simply.

Paul Vato: I could see that. What are some of the experiences that you've had that, that you could maybe share with us that stand out in your mind, whether, either [00:10:00] people that you've met or experiences that you've had that you would've never had just being stuck at home or stuck in jail, if you will.

Artisan Josh: Yeah. I guess the biggest thing that kinda sticks out to me is the After Fest. During festivals, it's usually a new crowd, mostly it's a new crowd every time. I sometimes see people that I've met on the road or at other festivals. Just to give you an example, at this last one, I only knew two people that had been doing it previously. Everybody else was new, everybody else was coming into the lifestyle just recently, within the last couple years. That's been amazing because we're constantly getting new blood in and it's constantly refreshing. After festivals a lot of us will get together somewhere, somewhere off in the mountains. After this last Fest, we went up to Medicine Bow (Wyoming) and we hung out at Medicine Bow (Wyoming). We're a diverse group of eclectic people from all over the country coming together and we live cohesively, [00:11:00] literally, anywhere we go. That has been the biggest gift to me that I would've never received or that I would've never looked for is the community aspect of tiny houses. I can't iterate to you how important and how fulfilling has been for me to stay on my path and keep doing this because the community brought me in and they held me. They literally would not let me go. They do that for everybody. With the tribe, it's not about where you were. It's not about what you did. It's all about who you are and where you're going, and I'm gonna get emotional, but it's beautiful to see, because I grew up in an environment filled with hate, just filled with everything negative in life. It's only due to the tribe and the community that I was able to let that knowledge go. I was able to unforget everything that I knew and [00:12:00]start anew. The tribe gave me that, the community gave me that. That's been the biggest thing in the entire tiny house world that has affected my life has been the people, they're cool. The tiny houses are cool. They do serve their purpose. I said before, but it is the tribe, but it is the community and I can't tell you how just appreciative I am of that. It's given me so much that I never had before. That's been the blessing for me.

Paul Vato: That's wonderful and thank you for sharing that. You really think that, because of this tribe, of this community, that it's kept you on the straight and narrow and I know you would've done this.

Artisan Josh: I know it.

Paul Vato: Okay. Cause I, I think you would've done this either way on your own because you just you seem like that type of person. I would never judge anyone, for their past indiscretions, you served your time, you paid your debt to society, but you really feel and know that this community has helped you...

Artisan Josh: 100, 100%. I give them all the glory. They really [00:13:00] did. We're just so tight and we're all trying to do the same thing. We're all trying to live the same way, and we're trying to reduce our impact. We're trying to treat the planet better, and in this environment you can do that. It's all about community, planet, environment, self resource, to me it's important, it's very important.

Paul Vato: Wow. I love it. I love it. I love it. The more I learn about this community and the tiny home dwellers and builders, it makes me more and more just look around and go I can live without all this stuff I did before. Cuz when you're on a boat, same thing, you have to be strategic about what you own, but even back then, I think we had a storage unit, so we had things in storage, but now I look around, I'm like I don't need all this stuff and what a great way for me to be able to explore the country, maybe eventually explore the world, but also, I love your background. I could do Paul Vato Presents, and like now I'm having troubles with my screen in the back. I'm trying to create something fake and false in the back. You [00:14:00] have this beautiful backdrop I could do Paul Vato Presents from anywhere in the country, anywhere in the world.

Artisan Josh: Absolutely.

Paul Vato: Then the people that I would meet, maybe I just discovered the purpose of this show, or at least one of my podcasts, which is, the tiny home people. Everyone just seems to be so friendly, so nice, so kind and so talented, whether they're doing their own builds or they're hiring the right people to do it, or they're buying something that was already built. I would imagine that happens as well, that builds get passed around as people come in and out of the lifestyle.

Artisan Josh: It's funny because just about I'm not gonna say just about everybody. I'm gonna say everybody that I've ever met that has owned a tiny house, started out in a tiny house, wound up getting another one and wound up going smaller. So, I've known people that have lived in big, tiny houses that have moved into Schoolies and then have moved into vans. It's a constant evolution. It's amazing how many times it happens really, but [00:15:00] yeah, buses, and vans and tiny houses they're lived in and sold just like any other home. Everybody I've ever known that's lived in a tiny house, has gotten another one and has always gotten smaller. So, think about that.

Paul Vato: It baffles my mind. It's like you're downgrading, but yet upgrading because the amenities I see in these vehicles are insane. Again, I think I mentioned it earlier, showers, toilets, grills and, indoor shower, outdoor shower, and it's accepted. Yeah. You shower outside. You put a little thing around. Is there are people around? Maybe.

Artisan Josh: Yep. So my first tiny house was 66 square feet and I had everything in it, you have at home washer and dryer, refrigerator / freezer, television, DVD, hot water, cold water, clean water, shower, restroom 100% portable on the road. Everything you needed. Everything I needed was in there, in 66 square feet. That's 12 feet long by five and a half feet wide. You can imagine how small it is. Very small. And I had all that in there and [00:16:00] I lived in there for almost two years. Put 167,000 miles on that house. I will tell you this though about tiny houses that, commercially built tiny houses, and if I'm wrong, please if you're out there, in social media world, please let me know. In the tiny house world, commercially built houses are not meant to be on the road. They're meant to be moved from the commercial builder to whatever site you're taking it to and then set, and maybe moved one more time. But these houses are not built to be on the road. It is, in essence, they're built the same way a mobile home is, and that would be like taking a mobile home full time on the road. You wouldn't do that. So commercially built tiny houses, I will tell you that I've never seen a tiny house with over 5,000 miles on it that was ever built by a commercial builder. That's the thing to think about.

Paul Vato: That is that's such a great thing to think about and [00:17:00] you're right, if somebody's out there and they respectfully disagree, we would love to hear about that.

Artisan Josh: I would love to.

Paul Vato: Yes, of course. So it seems like these commercial builders are building more, I don't know, for lack of a better word, maybe they're using tile or they're using things that shouldn't be on the road, being jiggled around and moved around. Is that kind of what you're getting at, or?

Artisan Josh: Absolutely. So the commercial builders they're in essence, they're building them the same way in RV would be built, with staples and glue and press wood. As much as I love 'em, they're just not meant to be on the road full time. They cannot handle the earthquake effect of being on the road full time. Honestly, it's a shame, I would love to see it where these smaller tiny houses could be on the road more full time and we would see 'em out and about more, but it's just simply not so, a lot of 'em are pulled from the commercial builder straight to a spot and left. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that. But if you have the idea of having a tiny house and putting it on the road full time [00:18:00] I would 100% suggest that you DIY it. You do it yourself, because commercial builders, just like a regular RV that you buy at a dealership, that's not meant to be on the road full time. It's meant to be on the road, maybe a couple months for vacation, a year, and then you have several hundred or several thousand dollars worth of maintenance on that vehicle to store it for winter until the next time comes around when you're gonna use it. Unfortunately, tiny houses are the same way. They're not meant to be pulled full time on the road, the stresses and the, just the avalanche and earthquake effect of being on the road, just tears the houses up. I can't tell you how many I've fixed because people tried it in the beginning.

Paul Vato: Wow. I see. I would imagine DIY means, you know, every square inch, intimately of your home.

Artisan Josh: Absolutely.

Paul Vato: That you can fix, you can upgrade. You're doing all this yourself, so you know how to fix it. If it's broken.

Artisan Josh: Absolutely. It gives you the advantage of knowing [00:19:00] every system in your house and where everything goes. You can overbuild without fear of consequence. That's the big thing is overbuilding. If DIYs, they're all overbuilt, they're all structurally very strong that I know of. There's only three of us on the planet. Again, if I'm wrong, please, social media world, let me know, but as far as I know, there's only three of us on the planet with over a hundred thousand miles on our houses. Three.

Paul Vato: Wow. Wow. Okay. Yeah, please reach out and let us know because maybe this podcast becomes ground zero for that the DIY versus commercial building.

Artisan Josh: Let's do it. I'm ready. I'm ready to go. Ready to battle.

Paul Vato: That would be the thing about this platform fireside is that we could have two or three people up here, all on video, hey, prove us wrong, type of a thing.

Artisan Josh: Exactly.

Paul Vato: I think, Josh, you would find a great home here on fireside, I would love if you have time, when you're set up to do the tour and people are coming through, I'd love to jump on again and maybe you can give us a tour of your home. You could give us a tour of the [00:20:00] festival, almost just like a, like a show on television, if you will, for Travel Channel.

Artisan Josh: I would absolutely love to do that. We can do that right before the festival kicks off after everybody's set up. I'd absolutely love to do that with you.

Paul Vato: That would be wonderful. You said that's the 16th of this month. So we're July 2022. 16th of July is the People's Festival. What is it, the People's Festival in Colorado?

Artisan Josh: The People's Tiny House Festival. Yes. It's this weekend. Yes.

Paul Vato: Tiny House Festival. The one you just attended?

Artisan Josh: Colorado Tiny House Festival.

Paul Vato: Are they the same people that are running it or different organizations?

Artisan Josh: No, different organizations. They've both they've both been doing it for at least five years now. But they do it in different areas of Colorado. This one's in Loveland, the other one was in, oh, I forgot the name of the town, right outside of Denver, basically, it's all around the Denver area. Different organizers, different event coordinators. I did the Colorado Tiny House Festival, the one I just did couple weeks ago, I did it back in 2017 and I didn't have the opportunity to come [00:21:00] back this way since then. I got to do it again this year, they're absolute blast. They're fun. They're informative. There's food music, people to talk to. It's a festival atmosphere and if you're thinking about tiny, I guarantee you, by the time you leave from talking with us, you'll definitely be considering it after that. Yeah.

Paul Vato: Wonderful, I love it. I'm in Vegas, we have a ton of conventions and events and things like that. I'm in the cigar business and at one point we had two events that were too close to each other, so they separated, but I almost feel like this is almost the opposite because you're already in the area so why not do a few festivals? The temperature's probably, maybe it's a little warm.

Artisan Josh: The temperature right now is abismal, I don't wanna talk about the weather. It's hot!

Paul Vato: Do you have air conditioning or how's comfort level?

Artisan Josh: In here, right now, I'm just in shorts and a shirt and it's, 67 degrees, but [00:22:00] outside it's probably about 90. It was up to 94 yesterday and it was 82 in here. Not bad. I don't have AC in in here because I've been traveling with the weather and I really haven't needed it. That's the good thing about having a house on wheels is you can travel with the weather. I do have fans and I do have Tropi-Cool Coat on the ceiling to reflect the sunlight. It's a lot cooler inside here than it would be outside, even without AC, and that's been okay for me so far, I haven't had needed the AC yet.

Paul Vato: Yeah. Everyone round applause.

Artisan Josh: Thank you.

Paul Vato: Thank you guys for being here and if you guys have any questions, please drop 'em in the comments. I think at one point Sebastian said, great work. So thank you for sharing your story. Your tiny home started out as a SWAT vehicle, for those of those that are just joining us. I would imagine very, boxlike almost like an ambulance or bigger?

Artisan Josh: It's the exact same body as a wheeled coach ambulance, the body is no different. They upgraded them aftermarket and they upgraded the [00:23:00] suspension to hold the weight of what they were carrying and the officers. This was a former Dallas, Oregon Police Department SWAT unit and as soon as it hit 101,000 miles they put it up for auction. It's a 1995 Ford E-350 Cutaway with a wheeled coach ambulance body set on top of it. It is the boxy body of an ambulance but it was never, no ghost in the machine, it was never used as an ambulance. It would carry eight SWAT members too and from, it was just a transport, it was just for transport.

Paul Vato: Got it. Of course. It's built tough. It was really built to handle...

Artisan Josh: It's extremely tough. Yeah. If you get a chance, check out the videos of wheeled coach ambulances on YouTube, and you'll see, they do rollover tests with them and everything. These things are built to last. Yeah, they are.

Paul Vato: I like the storage compartments on the outside of an ambulance. I like that it has compartments where everything has its space. I love the boxiness, I feel like it makes it easier to do a build in an [00:24:00] ambulance or in a SWAT truck like that.

Artisan Josh: It's nice having the all aluminum. You don't have to worry about rust, you don't have to worry about anything breaking, off cracking, the aluminum is very durable. They're easy to work on inside except for the electrical. The electrical inside there's 3.1 miles of electrical wiring inside the box. That's a little bit tricky. If you're gonna pull everything out and just start from a new framing perspective, then that's a little tricky to get around. The good thing about that though, I will give you a little caveat to that, the good thing about that is that every wire is marked and labeled. You know exactly what every wire is and where it goes to, and what it's connected to. Every one of 'em is labeled throughout the length of the wire. That makes it easier, but still it's a bird nest of electronics inside. Yeah.

Paul Vato: Sure, I would imagine so because you're dealing with lights, emergency lights speakers, you're dealing with all these things.

Artisan Josh: All the communications gear, all the the electric, 02 pumps, the oxygen pumps, it's a lot to go through and you've be talking about the outside compartments. [00:25:00] The outside compartments are phenomenal. They're so big and you can put so much stuff in them. Rideability and the body ride are not even affected by what you store in it, it's so solid. Compared to the last two houses I was in, this is structurally the strongest thing I've seen yet.

Paul Vato: Would you mind talking on financials as far as, did you buy it at auction and how much you paid for it? If you're willing to share, if not, no worries.

Artisan Josh: I did, I bought at, which is an auction site that government agencies use to sell old equipment, whether it be vehicles or what have you, anything really. I paid $3164 for this, it had 101,000 miles on it. The fleet maintenance record was absolutely impeccable. As soon as they go outta service at a hundred thousand miles, they get another one. You wanna see the new one, they got it's really nice.

Paul Vato: I'll bet.

Artisan Josh: I like the fact that you can go online and pick these up for relatively cheap. Put a little bit of money in it. [00:26:00] I put probably have to say probably about 7 or 8,000 of my own money in this, so I got about, about 11 in it, minus my time, about $11,000, I had an actual monetary value, but again, your time is more valuable than the dollar, a lot of time went into the build. I got all my wood reclaimed. I tried to cut corners as much as I could. I like the look of old wood anyway, so that's fun for me to do. You can do it relatively cheap. You can achieve this. It's a lot easier than people think it is. You can do this for half the money that I did. I've seen it done for five grand, and people living on the road full time. Obviously as you get more amenities and you're looking for different appliances or such. The monetary value goes up and gets higher. I've seen builds done anywhere from $4,900 all the way up to 160,000. So , it just depends on you. And I will tell you that I can see no, different quality of [00:27:00] life in the $4,000 build as I do in the $150,000 build, when we're all out on top of a mountainside. It's no different life, is life. No matter how much money you spend on it, you spend on your dwelling. We're living, not only for the moment, but we're living for outside. This is a place where I've noticed the majority of us come to sleep, eat, and maybe work, but life, is out there, life is outside. I open my front door and there's my living room. There's a beauty and there's an adventure in that, and it's a great thing to experience, it really is.

Paul Vato: That's amazing. You're giving me this wanderlust where I'm like, I gotta do this, I've gotta do this. Somehow at least get involved in the community. Oh, and I was going to mention if there's anything we can do to help you, you are available right now. I know that you have something scheduled, I think for this month, but maybe that fell through, if you wanna tell us a little bit about.

Artisan Josh: I'm a builder, as I stated before I travel all around the country and I help everybody [00:28:00] help build their tiny homes. Everything from something that you just can't work through yourself to brand new design and construction. I spent the last six months working and collaborating with a lady to try to get her house completed and get it revamped and refurbished, and it just fell through. I don't have any work for the rest of the year, I'll be looking for some. I'm in Colorado now, but like I said, I travel all over the country. I travel to you. I build on your site while I'm there, I actually stay there. I don't require anything from you. I'm 100% off grid. Even my tool trailer, that I pull behind my house, it is all the way solar as well. I can pull it up wherever we are in the country start work right then and there. It gives you the added advantage of actually having your contractor on site for the entire time of the build. As soon as I'm done, I'll pack up and I'm gone, I move on to the next one. It's like, I was never even there.

Paul Vato: If you come here, rest asured, of course you're always welcome in my condo. The offers [00:29:00] there, I get it though, you don't need me because you have a shower, you have a toilet, you have everything that you could possibly need. How convenient is that? Now, of course boundaries, because if you're there 24/7, that means that you're accessible 24/7.

Artisan Josh: True.

Paul Vato: Knock knock. Oh, I have another question. You're like it's three in morning.

Artisan Josh: I have no problem with that. That's the beauty of tiny house life is that you can hit me up anytime and I can start work anytime, because I'm there.

Paul Vato: For anyone that's listening, that speaks to you and if you need a great builder, definitely check out Artisan Josh's videos on YouTube and follow him on Instagram and across all social media, but definitely check out the quality of his work, and I hope this isn't too personal, what do you charge, do you charge by the project, do you charged by the hour, what's the?

Artisan Josh: For on call work, for like me pulling up and helping on the side of the road, stuff like that, I charge by the hour. I would rather do it by the project, charge by the project. And that 100% completely depends on you. The only thing I would require from a client would be for them to buy the base, [00:30:00] buy the vehicle or buy the container or buy the Schoolie or buy the shell first, if you're gonna do that, and then I would come in and build after. I can start new builds with tiny houses, that's absolutely no problem, but as far as containers and schoolies and vans or a vehicle like this is concerned, the client would buy the base and then I would come in and fill the job. Yeah.

Paul Vato: Perfect. That's great and I think that's so fair that you're going to quote by the project so if it takes you three days, great, if it takes you three months, there it is, the project is done.

Artisan Josh: Depends on the client, what do you want in your tiny home? How do you want to live? The great thing about having a gentleman, such as myself, to do it is that I've been living it. I know the life, and I know what works and I know the systems and that's been through trial and error. My first tiny house, God, I love her, but it was a constant flux of, I'm living in this and I thought it was gonna be this way and I thought it was gonna need this one specific thing, but now I don't need it [00:31:00] anymore. I was constantly changing things out. To give you an example, I would've showed you around today, but my house is really messy because yesterday I did laundry, but I'm working on this cabinet right here. I pulled this whole huge cabinet out because it was just a big eyesore and I didn't really use it that much. So I pulled the entire cabinet out and I'm revamping this little 10 square foot space to be a new kitchen area. You're constantly gonna update. You're constantly gonna get new ideas. You're constantly gonna have a different view. It's no different than living in a regular house and remodeling your standalone structure at your regular house. It's no different, you're constantly in a state of flux, and living on the road, you're living so simply, and you're living so tightly that if you haven't touched it or you haven't used it this month, get rid of it. Yeah. Toss it. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. I'm constantly, I still think to this actually. Yeah. I'm looking around now, I still think to this day, I got way too much stuff. [00:32:00] Yeah.

Paul Vato: Yeah. It is. It's all about simplifying and simple living and whatnot and getting back to nature. I love everything that you're doing, but I think for me, what really speaks to it is the community, I love meeting new people. Thank you for coming on here and doing the podcast. We would also love to have you on Owwll (App). I'm a brand ambassador for a company called Owwll with two Ws and two Ls. I can't remember if I sent you the info or not. We're always looking for experts. It's a way to monetize your knowledge and your time. I'll send you the link. If you download it, you use "VATO" V, A, T, O, all caps, and then you'll get 10 bucks to use on the platform, I'll get 10 bucks, it's a great way for you to talk to experts. If you need financial advice or real estate advice, not that you would need real estate advice.

Artisan Josh: Yeah.

Paul Vato: you can talk to people, but conversely, when you become an expert on the app, people can then come to you and ask you questions, and instead of having to Google it and spend three or four hours or two days on a deep dive on chatboards and things like that, they can just say, Hey Josh, I've got a question, can you answer it for it, [00:33:00] and then you charge whatever you want five bucks for 10 minutes, 10 bucks for 10 minutes, a hundred bucks for 10 minutes, depending on...

Artisan Josh: So it's kinda like Fiverr, but different.

Paul Vato: Like Fiverr, but different. If you don't mind, I'll send you that information and for anyone that's listening DM me and I can do the same because we're always looking for more experts on the app. Again, I'm just I'm a brand ambassador for them. I really believe in it and that's the other thing too. Anyone who would wanna speak to me on Owwll, I'm usually on there, and now you can also say talk to this person and it'll text me, and it never gives away your phone number. It's very, it's a very safe way for people to talk to experts and get advice. If you don't mind, Josh, I'd love to send you that information because I think you'd be a great addition to the Owwll community as well. Where can people find you, do you have a website or is it more?

Artisan Josh: My website is still being worked on, you can hit me up on Instagram at or you can hit me up by email at /, those are the best ways to get ahold of me. The community is very big on [00:34:00] Instagram. So if you're not on Instagram, and you're looking into tiny houses, I would suggest you definitely get on Instagram cuz the community it developed, it grew big on Instagram and that's where a lot of us communicate with each other. Social media isn't really my biggest strong suit. Honestly, I didn't grow up in it. When I went away, telephone calls were 20 cents, when I came out there weren't any phone booths on street corners. Technology blew past me. I'm getting back into the groove of things. I have an iPad now, which is, just a phenomenal invention, as far as I'm concerned, it's the greatest thing since sliced bread. The only way to really get in touch with me now would be either by email or by Instagram.

Paul Vato: Wonderful. Wonderful. I hope this isn't too personal. When did you get out, when was your last day?

Artisan Josh: October 1st of '16, then I spent the next 71 days building my house and I hit the road in the beginning of 2017.

Paul Vato: How did you know about construction or did you learn this as you were doing it?

Artisan Josh: I was blessed. When I first got [00:35:00] incarcerated, I was given the opportunity to go through several educational programs that were offered by the institutions that I was at. One of those programs was called the Top Step Program. The Top Step Program is a program that teaches inmates everything you need to know about getting a General Contracting License. What would normally take anybody on the street 18 months to two years of schooling to do, to get the Associate's Degree and then get their General Contracting License, inside it took me seven years to do it. It wasn't because of my grade point average, it wasn't because of anything I did on my end. A lot of times it's just hard to get to class when you're in prison. It wasn't an easy process. That I know of there's actually only 11 other people that have actually graduated that program since its inception, because it's been so difficult to complete. The Top Step Program is a phenomenal program. It licenses, bonds and [00:36:00] insures inmates or ex-cons for any job that we complete through the program. Let's just say like on this bus that I'm gonna be doing later. I'm gonna be working on his door, if anything at all goes wrong, I'm licensed, bonded and insured through the Federal Government for $150,000, bonded against that project. It gives a peace of mind to the client, to the customer, that not only am I educated and I've been licensed in it, but if anything, God so help us, if anything should ever go wrong, they know that there's a backup plan and that nothing bad financially could happen to them. The other positive aspect about this program is that we are tested three times a year. We're tested three times a year and that's important because most general contractors usually don't get retested until about every 4, 7 and sometimes 11 years. So there's [00:37:00] 11 year span worth of amendments made to electrical codes or plumbing codes that some GCs wouldn't know about that we are kept up on top of three times a year. Not only are we up to date on our education and our codes and state specific applications that we may have to use, but again, it gives us the advantage of being bonded and insured in the project.

Paul Vato: Wow. Congratulations. You know what? Some people take seven years to get through college.

Artisan Josh: Yeah.

Paul Vato: For you to do it under those circumstances, you really deserve all the success that you're getting and that you're going to get, because it could not have been easy. I would love for you to come back and I'd love to delve more into your story because you seem to have such an amazing story, a story of redemption and of this Phoenix rising again. Congratulations, cuz I'm sure it wasn't easy and it's not easy.

Artisan Josh: It was not easy. It's a lot easier now let me put it that way. I got a smile on my face now that I haven't had on my [00:38:00] face for a long time. Yeah.

Paul Vato: You seem very happy and I congratulate you on that. Have you had any, not incidents, but have you run into, say police officers, post incarceration, but you're in your SWAT van and you have something to talk about or do you not even cross paths with...

Artisan Josh: I had one interaction with police officers in New York City. I was actually parked on 30th, right in front of Rockefeller Center, downtown New York. I was parked there for about two weeks, literally, like on the side of the road in Rockefeller Center. I was there for about 11 days, I gotta knock on my door and it was two New York City Police Officers who were like, "this is amazing! Can we check it out?" and I was like, yeah, come on in. Although, I have heard of stories, of police encounters, I haven't had a bad one. I do everything I can to keep to myself too. Again, I'm not looking to go back, so I'm not really looking to talk to them.

Paul Vato: Yeah, I hear you. I hear you.

Artisan Josh: I've had enough conversations with [00:39:00] them over my life, I'm fulfilled in that aspect.

Paul Vato: That is too funny. I'm sure you have, you had your fill. Thank you for being so open with your life and one day, or maybe even on a private conversation I'd love to ask you more questions about that. Again, your road to redemption, there's such literal things going on here with you in such a yin and yang, from being incarcerated, in a tiny space to still being in a tiny space, but so free. You can go anywhere in the U.S. that you want to go. My goodness, you were living in downtown New York. I would imagine, some of the priciest real estate in the world, and you're there for 11 days and your home is right there.

Artisan Josh: All I did was feed the meter and then move up one space every day, that's it, just move one space every day.

Paul Vato: I would imagine that also probably got very expensive though.

Artisan Josh: It wasn't too bad because if you do the if you do the 24 hour option, I think it was like [00:40:00] 22 bucks. It wasn't too bad, not bad at all.

Paul Vato: Try to get a hotel for 10 or 20 times that.

Artisan Josh: And I've done that in Miami. I've done that in New Orleans. I've done it in Southern California. Literally all over the country. Anywhere that I can find a parking spot, anywhere that a regular car can fit I'm in there. No worries. Yeah.

Paul Vato: Have you ever gotten a ticket, either parking or speeding?

Artisan Josh: Never speeding. I never drive faster than my guardian angel can fly. I gotta keep up with that one, but I did get a ticket. There were three of us, actually, we left the 2020 California Tiny House Festival, down in San Diego. We left there and we went into Big Sur, as we were traveling down, it got dark. We were actually on the Pacific Coast Highway and we just pulled off on the side of the highway and went to sleep. We woke up the next morning and we were all inside the Schoolie. It was me in my tiny house. It was a gentleman in a van and it was a couple in a Schoolie and all three of us were traveling, caravan style [00:41:00] and the next morning we got up and we were all eating breakfast in the Schoolie. We were all sitting around talking, figuring out how our day was gonna go. We came outside after breakfast and all three of us had tickets on our windows. So we, we had been there all night. We had woken up, no tickets, but the minute we went inside to eat, the cop, very quietly, walked around to all three of vehicles while we were sitting there eating breakfast and ticketed us. We got a ticket for parking on the side of the highway. It was $91 ticket, but the view was, it was worth it.

Paul Vato: In that case, you just leave the ticket out there and stay for a couple weeks.

Artisan Josh: Might as well. That was my only time getting a parking ticket and it was self-inflicted. We knew we didn't need to be there and.

Paul Vato: Yeah, you could have woken up and moved right away. What a scummy thing to do though, a knock on the door, "hey, move it!", not just...

Artisan Josh: Exactly. No, he very quietly, while we were eating breakfast, three feet away, he [00:42:00] very quietly walked over and gave all three of us tickets. Yeah. Yeah, it was definitely sneaky. Yeah.

Paul Vato: Yeah. Josh, once again, thank you so much for being a part of Paul Vato Presents. I would also ask anyone that's listening, if you could please do me a huge favor and go over to Apple Podcast and Spotify Podcast and give us a follow. If you're so inclined, please leave us a review on Apple Podcast, it really helps, leave us a review also on Spotify and on all the other platforms. I'm also on Goodpods, which is a great podcasting community and now, hopefully, I'm also joining the tiny home movement here.

Artisan Josh: We're ready for you.

Paul Vato: Buddy, yeah, thank you. Keep in mind, what I'm looking for is somewhere that would be tall enough for me to do auditions in, because I'm an actor as well. So, good lighting, which instead of having these lights that I have, maybe the built in lighting, and maybe a green screen that I can just drop in the back or like a gray screen in the back, that I can just bring [00:43:00] down and also to do this, to do a portable podcasting studio and an actor studio type of a thing. So if you see anything, anything crosses your path that you think might work for me, please keep...

Artisan Josh: I got something for you. If you like this type body style, I would look into the Mobile Command version, it's two and a half feet taller, six feet longer and I think that might be something, I'll shoot you a link.

Paul Vato: Please do, or if you know of anyone that's selling one and maybe we can look at it. What happened to your old ones? You sold them and then in order to move up?

Artisan Josh: My first tiny house I sold, not to necessarily move up, it was more of I didn't have proper storage for my tools, in my first tiny house. I didn't build the house to store how I make my living. I moved outta that and I got this, because it's all in one. I can have a small trailer behind and pull most of my tools with it, I can leave that anywhere and detach. If I need to go to the store or whatever, I need to make a material run, I [00:44:00] can do that in this, but I can still have my workspace separate at the job site. That was why I moved out of those, nothing other than that, I just had to make my work situation cohere with my living situation.

Paul Vato: Wonderful. Wonderful. Thank you. I know that we're ending it and then I'm like, wait, I have many more questions, maybe we should do this again. I would love for you to give us a tour of your home and maybe a few of the other if you see some that you also like.

Artisan Josh: We have so much to share. We love to see the enthusiasm of people coming out to visit us and talk to us. We're all accepting, any race, any shape, any size, whoever you are, wherever you came from. If I can change one person's mind at a festival to actually come in and do it, it gives me the greatest sense of fulfillment in the world. Yeah.

Paul Vato: Incredible. Any final thoughts or were those your final thoughts, Josh, thank you for sharing, again, your wonderful story. Any final thoughts?

Artisan Josh: Thank you very much. My final thought is, go tiny or go home![00:45:00]

Paul Vato: I love it. Thank you for sharing your amazing journey and your story. It's a true redemption story, man.

Artisan Josh: Definitely talk again soon.

Paul Vato: Yes, sir. You should be the poster man for this program that got you here, where you're now, I'd love to talk to you more about that. Everyone please follow Artisan Josh, it's Artisan_Josh on Instagram and follow him, you can give him some likes and if you have any questions, I'm sure he'd be happy to answer them.

Artisan Josh: Love to answer 'em.

Paul Vato: Josh, if you have anyone else that I should talk to by all means, please feel free to send them my way, and thank you again for taking time from your schedule, because I know you can be outside in nature and I know you have work to do.

Artisan Josh: I got a door to go build!

Paul Vato: Yeah, go fix that guy's door.

Artisan Josh: That's right.

Paul Vato: Thank you so much for being I'm Paul Vato Presents.

Artisan Josh: My pleasure.

Paul Vato: Thank you everyone for being here, round of applause for Josh. Thank you guys. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much for being here!

Artisan Josh

Tiny Home Builder & Dweller, Simple Living Advocate