My friend Den spends many of days killing clocks at various coffee shops in west philly, sharing small talk with strangers or lengthy deep discussions pertaining quantum physics, enlightened thought, custom motorcycles, fashion, and other basic life happenings. He told me about one of his friends John who was an artist that did some pretty neat stuff, and was an even cooler guy to go along with it. Deny had hipped me to John Overmyer's work, and me being the doodle bug that I am, there was an instant attraction to his work that began with my first encounter at the Cafe Clave coffee shop in West Philly with his Cuba inspired drawings. This lead to some hang ten web surfing in which I discovered even more drawings, and paintings that
perked my interest. Minimal, yet precisely accurate illustrations that capture what they need to, with just enough detail, and witty style to give it an imaginative edge. In starting I thought it would be neat to start present day John O, and pan back through where your career, and life itself has taken you. Ladies and Gents please welcome to the cyberstage John Overmyer world renowned illustrator! Get familiar to the local talent that makes people around the globe think about his intended subject matter in publications around the world.
JOHN OVERMYER Q&A take it away...
Bad Lux-Do you draw/paint every day?
John-I DO DRAW EVERY DAY. EVEN IF I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DRAW I JUST START SCRIBBLING IN MY MOLESKINE TO SEE WHERE IT WILL TAKE ME.
Bad Lux -Do you draw for pleasure, it's obvious with your published success
that you draw for work, but is there still a drive or a yearning to
create for self accomplishment, or challenge?
John- IT'S NOT WORK, IT'S JUST WHAT I DO. I ALWAYS HAVE TO CHALLENGE MYSELF. HOW CAN I MAKE IT BETTER?
Bad Lux -Being an OP-ED artist it is well overstood that your inspiration is
derived from current events, headlines, celebrity life, politricks,
and so on, but what inspires you outside of the confines of work to
draw or create?
John-I'M INSPIRED BY EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE AROUND ME. THAT'S WHY I SPEND A LOT OF TIME OUTSIDE THE STUDIO LOOKING AT THINGS AND LISTENING. EVERYTHING TURNS ME ON...TREES, ARCHITECTURE, FASHION, SHADOWS, THE WAY PEOPLE WALK AND THEIR EXPRESSIONS...EVERYTHING IS RELATED TO EVERYTHING ELSE.
Bad Lux -Art Now with some much accessibility to other artist work via the web
VS. art pre the internet? Pros? cons? Good? Bad?
John- I LIKE THE IDEA THAT ONE CAN SEE ART AROUND THE WORLD INSTANTLY, BUT I DON'T SPEND MUCH TIME DOING IT. KNOWING THAT MY ART CAN BE SEEN BY ANYONE, ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD, MAKES ME ALWAYS TRY TO DO A BETTER JOB. IT IS AMAZING THAT WHEN SOMEONE MENTIONS AN ARTIST, ARCHITECT, MUSICIAN, I CAN CHECK IT OUT IN SECONDS!
Bad Lux - Are you formally educated in art or self taught?
John- I BEGAN STUDYING ART EARLY ON. I WENT TO SATURDAY ART SCHOOL AT THE COLUMBUS ART MUSEUM (OHIO) WHEN I WAS 10 YEARS OLD. BUT I DIDN'T TAKE ANY ART IN HIGH SCHOOL. I PICKED IT UP AGAIN AT 21 AFTER I WAS KICKED OUT OF OHIO STATE FOR NOT CARING. I THEN BECAME A STUDENT AT THE COLUMBUS COLLEGE OF ART AND DESIGN, WHERE I DID CARE.
Bad Lux-Where does your artistic back round stem from? Family? Friends?
John- MY MOTHER ONCE GOT A NOTE FROM MY 4TH GRADE TEACHER THAT SAID I WAS PAYING NO ATTENTION TO MY SCHOOL WORK, BUT THAT I DREW ALL OF THE TIME, AND SHE SUGGESTED THAT I GO TO SATURDAY ART CLASSES.
Bad Lux - You seem to be entrenched in the OP-ED art scene with fellow artist
alike, in the present day. Were you always involved with artistic
circles through your career, or were you more of a solo artist?
If so, what were those art scenes like, you had the New york art
scene, the SF 60's beat scene, and low brow(Kustom&Tattoo) art scenes
etc etc...Were you aware of any of these, paying attention to them at
John-I PAID ATTENTION TO THE POPULAR ART SCENE MORE WHEN I WAS YOUNGER, TRYING TO FIGURE OUT WHERE I FIT IN. I LIKED THE ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISTS LIKE DE KOONING AND MOTHERWELL. I LOVED ROBERT RAUSHENBERG. I LIKED THE EARLY PETER MAX PHYSCODELIC WORK. I WAS REALLY INFLUENCED BY "THE YELLOW SUBMARINE". THE ILLUSTRATOR AND DESIGNER MILTON GLASER. R. CRUMB COMICS. ALL THE SAN FRANCISCO POSTER ARTISTS. SAUL STEINBERG.
Bad Lux- What artist do you admire today, and others you looked up to when
you were coming up?
John- I AM INSPIRED BY MANY YOUNG ARTISTS AROUND ME, THEIR VISION, THEIR APPROACH TO ART. I GUESS THAT'S WHY I HANG OUT WITH SO MANY YOUNG PEOPLE, THEY JUST GIVE ME ENERGY. TODAY I STILL LOOK BACK TO SAUL STEINBERG FOR INSPIRATION IN COMING UP WITH CONCEPTUAL SOLUTIONS TO DESIGN PROBLEMS. I TRY TO THINK LIKE HE WOULD THINK, BUT NEVER TRY TO DO IT THE WAY HE DID IT. PLAGIARISM IS SOMETHING I CAN'T TOLERATE.
ANOTHER FAVORITE IS FRANS MASEREEL, A GERMAN WOODCUT ILLUSTRATOR FROM THE 1920S. HIS BEAUTIFUL BLACK AND WHITE STORYTELLING WOODCUTS USING NO WORDS. CHECK OUT "THE IDEA".
Bad Lux -Any stand out pieces that you have done that are your favorites, and
have stood the test of time?
John-HAVE TO THINK ABOUT THAT. USUALLY STAND OUT PIECES ARE THOSE THAT ACCOMPLISH A GOAL I HAD AT THE TIME. COULD BE BECAUSE THE LINE WAS WORKING OR THE PROPORTION REALLY WORKED OR THE CONCEPT WAS REALLY WORKING. MANY TIMES WHAT I LOVE DIFFERS FROM WHAT OTHER PEOPLE LIKE BECAUSE I KNOW THAT IN THAT PIECE I DID WHAT I SET OUT TO DO.
Bad Lux-We only met once, but in meeting I was reassured as to what Deny had
told me about you. He said you were young at heart and enjoy staying
in tune with the times and lifestyles of the times. I feel that is so
important! Do time, and not let time do you?
John-I'M FASCINATED WITH LIFE AND EVERYTHING AROUND ME. IT'S GREAT BEING AROUND SINCE THE 1940S AND SEEING HOW MUSIC AND ART AND LIFE HAS EVOLVED AND KEEPS ON EVOLVING.
Bad Lux-How long have you lived in Philly and what brought you here?
John-I'VE BEEN HERE SINCE 1987. MOVED HERE ON MY 45TH BIRTHDAY AFTER QUITTING MY JOB OF 20 YEARS AT HALLMARK CARDS. I CAME HERE BECAUSE I HAD NEVER LIVED ON THE EAST COAST AND 2 BEST FRIENDS CAME HERE PRIOR. AND I WANTED TO BE A FREELANCE ILLUSTRATOR.
Bad Lux-Where else have you lived and worked, studied?
John- LIVED IN COLUMBUS OHIO AS A YOUNG CHILD, LIVED IN KANSAS CITY MO AS A GROWN UP CHILD, LIVED IN MANITOU SPRINGS COLORADO AS A MIDLIFE CRISIS CHILD.
Bad Lux-What is your favorite medium to work with?
John- I LOVE GOUACHE AND BRUSH.
Bad Lux-What do you think of the present day art scene?
John- DON'T UNDERSTAND IT AT ALL BUT I LOVE IT BECAUSE IT'S PART OF THE EVOLUTION OF THINGS.
Bad Lux-Have you made a living throughout your life on art?
John- AFTER ART SCHOOL, YES. WHEN I GRADUATED, THE DEAN SAID THAT ONLY 10% OF US WOULD STILL BE DOING ART IN 10 YEARS. SOMETIMES THE REASON YOU ARE STILL MAKING A LIVING IS THAT YOU DIDN'T QUIT AND ARE THE ONLY ONE LEFT.
Bad Lux-If you weren't an artist what would you be doing?
John- WATCHING 6 FEET UNDER FROM 6 FEET UNDER
Bad Lux -Describe yourself to the world in 5 songs?
John-5 SONG PEOPLE ARE EASIER: BOB DYLAN, BOB MARLEY, LEONARD COHEN, NEIL YOUNG, CURT COBAIN AND GEORGE GERSHWIN.
Bad Lux- If you had to pick a year in history to relive or have lived during
what year would it be? Why?
John.- 1963. THAT IS THE YEAR THAT THE 60S BEGAN. KENNEDY WAS KILLED AND THE BEATLES CAME ON THE SCENE AND CHANGED ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING. I WAS 21. I WAS AT THE EYE OF THE STORM. WHAT A TIME!
Check John out at www.newsart.com!