When did you first realize you were an artist?
I’ve always been a creator of one type or another. I’m generally much more comfortable thinking of myself in terms of being a designer or art director; artistic, certainly, but generally in a very applied and specific manner. I started doing desktop publishing and tshirt design in high school. Growing up, my family let me design and build elaborate Halloween facades and dioramas. I came to Georgia Tech to learn how to design haunted house attractions…turns out CompE/MechE is dramatic overkill for that. I started doing freelance design and webpages as I worked my way back to school and got a BFA in Graphic Design from Georgia State University.
Could you tell us about your work?
Generally, anything I design is solving a problem of one type or another. In many cases the problem is advertising something or other. Just lately my work has gotten a little more conceptual, in that I’m creating ads and ephemera to tell stories and publicize locales I’ve invented wholecloth. I use a variety of art techniques; in particular I do a lot of working in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, a lot of photomanipulation, and a lot of designing for screenprinting and 3-d construction. I particularly love the challenges inherent in designing for mass production. My latest series of work, publicized as Horror In Clay, focuses on a series of fictitious Tiki bars in horror-themed settings and on the Midcentury Mod/Polynesian Pop aesthetic…which is a fancy way of saying I’m designing Tiki mugs with a lot of details.
What artists have influenced your work?
I love Lowbrow and German Expressionism, Tim Burton, Alfred Hitchcock, SHAG, Robt. Williams, Gustave Dore, H.R. Giger, Big Daddy Ed Roth, MC Escher, Larry Elmore, Mark Ryden, Joe Coleman, Luis Royo, and all the game designers for TSR and FASA. Oh, and Echo Chernik, Chas Addams, Aubrey Beardsley, Hajime Sorayama and Frank Frazetta.
What is your creative inspiration?
I take a lot of inspiration from period design and architecture. I’m fascinated with the zeitgeist of different periods of history, particularly of modern American history. I’ve studied a lot of art history, and I love to incorporate references and in-jokes into my work. I’m particularly fond of typographic nods to other works; if, for-example, the “Gilman House” logo on my Innsmouth Fogcutter looks familiar…that was on purpose.
What other interests do you have besides creating art?
I love to read (both fiction and non-fiction) and to watch movies and play video games. I have a family, so that’s definitely an interest. I recently published a few reviews in the book “Monster Serials: Morbid Love Letters to Horror Cinema” from www.thecollinsporthistoricalsociety.com and have recently spoken on both Lovecraft and crowdfunding in various venues. Every once in a while I have an excuse to do some voice-over work, which I love.
What advice would you give to a new artist?
The same advice I would give anyone. You learn by doing. You get out of it what you put in. You always have a choice to observe or to participate, and active participation is usually better. Learn to recognize and embrace “happy accidents”.
Could you give some advice about the business side of being an artist?
Don’t neglect marketing and taxes. You can make more time for yourself to make the art that you love by deciding how you want to be marketed, perhaps even deciding to outsource that part of your life as an artist. While I could spend lots of time maintaining websites, I go with a simple outsourced solution with a monthly fee. Some months that fee seems like something I could easily dispense with, but really it means I have a safe secure way to sell the fruits of my labours, and blog, and generally maintain a web and social media presence. Well worth it. If you are going to sell a mass-produced or open edition of a design (either 2d or 3d) work out what your quality control plan is. Oh, and if you go for a crowd-funded project, like something on KIckstarter or Indigogo, do a LOT of research…running such projects takes a lot of time and transparency.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years from now?
I’ve spent the last 20 years designing neat things in all media whenever the opportunity presents itself. I see myself continuing to do that. ^/|^
CLICK HERE to see Jonathan’s art studio and read his Studio Spotlight Interview.
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR PODCAST:
Looking forward to working with you!
Latest posts by samanthameeker (see all)
- 28 – From wildlife controller to wildlife painter – Dana Newman – Artist Interview - November 17, 2016
- 27 – Art festivals, commercial art and owning a new gallery – Ashley Benton – Artist Interview - November 10, 2016
- 26 – Returning to your art after a long break – Kimberly Beck Artist Interview - November 3, 2016