By DJ Johnson
Lately I have had the pleasure of engaging on a lot of conversations about art and my process. I find my self often getting stumped in explaining how I derived to this point in my career. Even acknowledging I have an art "career" is surreal at times. But the most interesting conversations are the ones with aspiring artists. I get questions about technical issues about camera work, Photoshop pluggin inquires, or as to what paint should one use. I give out as much advice as I can but ultimately it always boils down to one thing, Do You. Find what makes you feel good and do it. My road to this point was not one of structure or technique. It was more like a creative free for all and I just kept pushing forward....momentum did the rest.
I didn't set out to be an artist. Not a photographer, Not a graphic designer. It kind-of just happened. I didn't grow up with a natural ability to draw. My hand writing sucks and I never could color inside the lines of a coloring book. Therefore the advice I give people as to how they can refine their creative process is "Do what makes you feel good." I found my creative process on a humbug. I was in a ruff stretch in life and was overwhelmed. I was recently divorced and lost the small real estate empire while that I had amassed while I was married. I was depressed. and broke. All I was left with was my laptop, a point and shoot camera and my clothes. I had to move back in with my moms. One day I realized that I had free 30 day trial of Photoshop on my lap top and decided to open it. I didn't like it. It was confusing and since it was only good for 30 days and I don't like limitations I never used it. But I looked on-line for free photo software and found Picasa and Artweaver. I played with this with no intentions or expectation of any thing, I was just up loading pics and flipping colors around and drinking 6 packs of beer, and falling asleep. Nothing fancy but I fell in love with this process, and got a beer belly as well. But the ability manipulate light waves and frequencies and remix pictures was really fun. I would get off work an sit in front of my laptop for 6-8 hrs at a time and fall asleep at the computer. It was therapeutic. I considered my process more like remixing pictures. I wasn't taking them or painting, just remixing colors and duplicating effects. Like a picture DJ. I called it Inverting. After about 6 months of playing around I showed a few people my work and they liked it. My mom stopped thinking I was depressed once she saw and liked the picture I did of her. So I gave my entire family prints for Christmas as gifts. They ate it up. I printed a few more of my Inversions because my moms friend loved them and wanted to display them during his play he producing. I agreed. A lot of the things I created in the beginning I did for fun and gave a lot of my designs and artwork away. I took photos for my friends and their events at every turn. And then I got that most important question: "How much do you charge too....." . Then I changed how I approached that thing I loved.
So my advice more any aspiring artist is do what makes you feel good and do what you would; and do for free (but only until you are comfortable charging people ). The ability to create something from nothing freely is totally liberating and art comes in many forms. I have seen people do amazing things with the strangest materials. Then they become amazing because their passion for creating their pieces exudes from the piece itself . The time and energy someone puts in a piece becomes evident. At that point people offer you money right out or ask you how much you charge. Find what you LOVE to do and go for it. If you like yarn, make some dope yarn shit. If you love collecting bottle tops, do some freaky bottle top sculpture. Find your style, your passion and just do it and don't quit doing it. More than ANYTHING. Don't Quit. The nature of progression takes care of itself. I didn't think I would be actually painting but hey, it ended up being the natural progression of things. Kinda like Theirry Guetta transition into Mr. Brainwash.