For years, Awesome Art We’ve Found Around The Net has been about two things only – awesome art and the artists that create it. With that in mind, we thought why not take the first week of the month to showcase these awesome artists even more? Welcome to “Awesome Artist We’ve Found Around The Net.” In this column, we are focusing on one artist and the awesome art that they create, whether they be amateur, up and coming, or well established. The goal is to uncover these artists so even more people become familiar with them. We ask these artists a few questions to see their origins, influences, and more. If you are an awesome artist or know someone that should be featured, feel free to contact me at any time at [email protected].This month we are very pleased to bring you the awesome art of…
JOBLO: What got you started as an artist?
JOHN: My origin story isn’t likely all that different from any other budding young hopeful. From the time I could manually operate any form of drawing device, I was making marks to tell stories and doodle wildly inappropriate things on convenient surfaces. The steady diet of high-calorie eye protein from monster movies, comic books and Saturday morning cartoons assured that my salty brain meat was on course to be core memory hardwired a certain way. Along with a natural sense of full-spectrum curiosity and thrill of adventure, I had all the ingredients for something interesting or dangerous to happen. The nuke from orbit for me was Star Wars on May 25, 1977 when my head was blown apart and pieced back together differently, never to be the same. Then in rapid succession, I discovered Frank Frazetta, Heavy Metal magazine, Robert E. Howard, H.P Lovecraft, and a cascade of other key influences so the die was cast. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen with any of this roiling noise and explosions behind my eyes but something was out there just beyond the horizon, something with enormous potential for the wild at heart life many of us yearn for. I was a dependable but distracted student, doing well enough to have plenty of post-secondary options but only one thing had gravity and resonance, and that was doing art.
When I graduated high school I went to the Alberta College of Art in Calgary and washed out after a year. It was all conceptual ‘art’ important issue and statement-driven nonsense, representational work be damned, rather than the heresy I dared to darken the college campus with: I want to work on cool things with cool people, make a bunch of money and have a blast doing it. Blasphemy! I tried to break into independent black-and-white comics around this time, did a few issues of a couple books but it’s an unsustainable enterprise so I packed my bags and called it a day.
Flash forward several years later after continuing to draw, traveling and putting wise mileage on my head and heart I graduated from broadcasting and went to work almost immediately writing and producing hard-sell car commercials during the day and doing freelance pop culture and lifestyle interviews for local cable suppliers. One of them was for BioWare when the upstart studio was still doing medical software and had begun work on their first game Shattered Steel. We hit it off well, I got them lots of TV time with a couple segments and they asked if I could do anything else. I said I could draw like a sonuvabitch. They said we’ve heard that before and I responded with sure maybe but not from me. I showed them my portfolio and they asked when I wanted to start. BioWare was nine years, twelve games, 24 million copies sold, and my professional career began and went into overdrive. I left BioWare in late 2004, took a couple years off to reassemble myself after aging in game development dog years, and was contacted in December 2007 by Steve Geaghan, the production designer of Fear Itself: Masters of Horror season two which was crewing up in Edmonton of all places. I had done storyboards for a couple Ginger Snaps movies so was listed on the union call sheet and that was when the second act of my art career began. I’ve been busy working as an illustrator in film since that first show and while it’s not without its challenges, I’ve been loving the challenge with a raw beginner’s passion and a village idiot’s intelligence since. Never a dull moment!
Who were some of your favorite artists growing up?
Comics are the reason I started drawing so my childhood inspirations were most abundant in the medium. Classic masters like Will Eisner, Wally Wood, Joe Kubert, Alex Toth, John Buscema, Jim Steranko, Neal Adams, John Romita, Bernie Wrightson, Gene Colan, Jack Kirby, newer legends like John Byrne, Dave Cockrum, Walt Simonson, George Perez, Brian Bolland, Bill Sienkiewicz, Alex Ross, Travis Charest, Art Adams, Dave Mazzuchelli, Geoff Darrow, Adam Hughes, Mike Grell, Howard Chaykin, Marshall Rogers, Dave Sim, Frank MIller, and once the genie of the Heavy Metal artists was out of the bottle Moebius, Herge, Juan Giminez, Caza, Druillet, Enki Bilal, H.R Giger, and a very long list of legendary talents all deeply infused my creative worldview with their incredible gifts. As I entered my teens, my definition of artist had broadened significantly from my earliest recollections so by this point virtually every tradecraft that required expertise, skillsets, focus, discipline and tradition of practice fell under my purview. It was an unprecedented electric circus of consuming whatever I could get my hands on, from dark wave import 12″ EPs to 70s kung fu bootlegs to underground comix to Beksinski and Bauhaus and I drank it all in with unfiltered reckless abandon.
Who do you really dig these days, follow on Instagram?
Wow, where to start? So many unreal talents in the game. I’ll narrow it down to artists for the sake of our discussion. I feast on the marks of Frank Quitely, James Stokoe, J.H Williams III, Mike Huddleston, Steve Skroce, Tomm Coker, Juanjo Guarnido, Cary Nord, Joelle Jones, Lee Bermejo, Danielk Warren Johnson, Lucio Parillo, Greg Smallwood, Stjepan Sejic, Wes Craig, Alex Maleev, Steve McNiven, Eduardo Risso, Marko Djurdjevic, BossLogic, Tony Moore, Raf Grassetti, Johnnie Christmas, Mitch Gerads, Colin Lorimer, Jeremy Simser, Simon Roy, Katy DeCobray, DopePope, Erick Sosa, Daniel Bel, Franco Carlesimo, Manuel De Jorge, Dinsai Studio, Todd Masters…the list is endless. As I write this I’m missing people. Find amazing art – clothing designers, sculptors, digital artists, singers, makeup effects artists, dancers, cosplayers, street artists, painters, DJs, illustrators, video game artists, whatever the job description or field of endeavour, newbies to veterans, and stay with them, show support, respect and gratitude for and with what they share.
What advice would you have for budding artists today?
Firstly, as much as it may pain you, take business courses you’ll be grateful you did. Stay ferociously curious and always be willing to fail, often spectacularly. Investigate endlessly, even if it seems to lack direct currency value. Have agency and intention, understand how to build value in your reputation and public life, stay open. I propose it will place a creator’s sense of novelty, play and invention in peril when they start to feel a little too comfortable with the process of creation. Remix and re-invent your process, break old routines and avoid ease if it gives you pedestrian solutions. Focus on storytelling and worldview building and its array of powers, the graphic finesse and visual dexterity will follow. Avoid relying too much on software making decisions for you or its peripherals until the fundamentals are rock solid after minimum 10k hours of practice. If you haven’t built the muscle memory and decision-making supersets for sustained long-distance high-intensity effort your work will gas out and plateau before you know it. Stay keenly aware of new software and potential value, popular discourse, and evolving form languages and popular aesthetics to remain contemporary and relevant in your way. Be a great ambassador of goodwill in the industry, even as a beginner. There are few things more exhausting and boring than a grumpy artist. Most clients have their pick of the litter for choices of who to work with and an unendurable attitude and unprofessional manner is not tolerated often or much in the modern space.
I’ve found for me building my pipeline is to break your routine all the time, shock your muscle memory, collaborate with other 2D/3D artists, do homages, audition for fictional jobs, drop the ball and shit the bed, post failures not just wins, draw attention to other creators, get excited by what other artists are doing. Also, just make art. All the time. Even if you think it doesn’t pass muster. No one gives a shit if it’s not perfect. It’s a joyous celebration of being alive and making a mark. While that doesn’t mean you’re destined to be an art career professional – few are statistically – make the hell out of it anyway. It’s difficult to predict with any veracity if or when a side hustle on Etsy could blow up for you or part-time dark art gallery work becomes extremely lucrative. Stay with it, foot on the gas, watch the road, read the room, never give up and pursue it with shameless joy.
What should we be looking out for from you in the future?
At the risk of sounding like a cliche, someone who instead of therapy got a podcast, I did. I built an excellent team for it with a deliberate purpose and it’s called Uncannyknack: Living the Question. The question of course is what’s this art life all about and how do we live the answer. So I talk to creators of all tradecraft about their story. Stay tuned for that! Also, another cliche, I have a couple streaming series in development under NDA, one live-action, the other animated. I continue to work in film as an illustrator and while the WGA strike has slowed things down, I’m fortunate to be on projects that were locked prior so that moves the ball down the field in the meantime. I’m exploring Web 3.0 opportunities but like anything, vetting and due diligence yield varying mileage. On those in particular we’ll see what yields filthy lucre and what’s a waste of time. And I’ll always love the comic con experience so I’ll keep attending those as a guest artist as long as they’ll have me. My overriding objective remains keeping myself engaged and compelled by what’s ahead so there’s likely to be a few shocks and a surprise or two along the way.
Being a fansite, we have to ask you… What are some of your favorite movies/TV shows of all time?
In no particular order, some series: Chernobyl, Oz, The Wire, Rick and Morty, Breaking Bad, Star Trek,The Muppet Show, Kolchak:The Night Stalker, The X-Files, Fargo, Party Down, the IT Crowd, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Andor, The Trailer Park Boys, The Office, Justified, Deadwood, Better Things, Barry, SCTV, The Chappelle Show, South Park, The Family Guy, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Key and Peele, Russian Doll, Star Trek Strange New Worlds, Poker Face, Six Feet Under, Halt and Catch Fire, Community, Battle of the Planets, Columbo, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Arrested Development, Parks and Recreation, Sesame Street, Watchmen, 30 Rock, Atlanta, The Larry Sanders Show, Godless, Squid Game, Money Heist,The Twilight Zone, Mindhunter, Ash vs the Evil Dead, 1899, Stranger Things, Dark, Black Mirror, Queer Eye, Ozark, The Queen’s Gambit, Night Gallery, Fleabag, Narcos, The Boys, Cosmos, Band of Brothers,The Expanse, The Sopranos, The Simpsons
In no particular order, some movies: Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, Alien, Aliens, StarShip Troopers, John Carpenter’s The Thing, Blade Runner, Blade Runner 2049, Terminator, Terminator 2 Judgment Day, The Usual Suspects, Back To The Future, Se7en, The Witch, Hereditary, The Good The Bad and the Ugly, Night of the Hunter, Seven Samurai, Rashomon, Yojimbo, Pulp Fiction, Inglourious Basterds, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Revenant, Spirited Away, Battleship Potemkin, Napoleon, Cinema Paradiso, Frankenstein, Dracula, The Wolfman, Creature From the Black Lagoon, Bride of Frankenstein, Nosferatu, Road Warrior, Mad Max: Fury Road, Evil Dead, Devil Dead 2 Dead by Dawn, Army of Darkness, Big Trouble in Little China, The Blair Witch Project, Three Days of the Condor, All the President’s Men, No Country for Old Men, The Road, Capricorn One, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Dark Knight, Old Boy, Memento, American Beauty, The Avengers: Infinity War, The Avengers; Endgame, Trainspotting, Fargo, How To Train Your Dragon, Captain America and the Winter Soldier, John Wick 1-4, The Exorcist, Bullitt, The Dirty Dozen, Captain America Civil War, Come and See, Raging Bull, Goodfellas, Reservoir Dogs, Don’t Look Now, Fight Club, Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Matrix, Interstellar, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri, All Quiet on the Western Front, Arrival, Jaws, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, The Strangers, Martyrs, High Tension, Frontieres, Let the Right One In, Carnival of Souls, Midsommar, It Follows, Audition, Near Dark, The Hitcher, Train to Busan, Godzilla, American Werewolf in London, The Howling, The Monster Squad, 28 Days Later, The Fly, Halloween, Ex Machina, District 9, Children of Men, Donnie Darko, Predator, Akira, The Day The Earth Stood Still, Forbidden Planet, Jurassic Park, Event Horizon, Robocop, Total Recall, Looper
Scroll down to check out some of our favorite art pieces from John as we continue to follow his journey across his Website and social media hubs: Instagram / Facebook / DeviantArt / Portfolio / Store
Fin Fang Foom
Galactus and The Silver Surfer
God Of War: Raagnarok
The Hulk vs. Wolverine
ROM: Space Knight
Spider-Man: Miles Morales
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles