Evan Johnson | Digital Artist
By Brian Pitre
The world of illustration has become a masterpiece in itself; a broad spectrum of colors and shadows. The ability to find yourself in one of the many strokes is the true beauty of an entire piece. Colorists have been around for centuries, but the digital platforms we live by today have allowed the profession to seed a bounty of new opportunities for young artists. We sat down with local artist Evan Johnson to learn more about his journey into this new digital age of art.
JAM: What sort of artist would you categorize yourself as?
EJ: Format wise, Digital 2-D Colorist.
JAM: How long have you been creating art?
EJ: 25-plus years. The majority of my life. Most people, when handed a pen or pencil, know right away.
JAM: What got you into art?
EJ: Art came natural. I fell in love with it as a kid, ‘80s cartoons, He-Man, G.I. Joe, Thundercats. Spawn comics were huge for me, but I wasn’t allowed to have them so I was hooked on what I couldn’t have. Tattoos where big for me, as well. I first saw them on the band guys from metal CDs and I was hooked. I even worked at a shop for a while where I built a wealth of knowledge.
JAM: What about the art caught you?
EJ: Todd McFarlane just had a style in those spawn comics; that hard, edgy line work and rich coloring was addictive to look at. Seeing the different techniques and skills an artist would use to pair their artwork with a storyline was just awesome to me.
JAM: What was one of the first pieces you remember working on that made you want to pursue art in a greater form?
EJ: You know, I recognized it as a child, but I never really noticed until later. I drew a pencil portrait of my girlfriend in grade school. I attempted realism and tried to capture lighting in new ways. That was when I realized I had something.
JAM: Do you have any formal artistic training or have you been self taught?
EJ: Self taught. A healthy blend of lifelong experience and YouTube. HAHA!
JAM: Who are some of your favorite artist to follow?
EJ: Michael K. Russell… man, so many artists, just anyone I can find. I love videos on composition, arrangement, and lighting, just anything I can learn I seek it out. Feng Zhu is probably one of my favorite artists. If I had $50,000 tomorrow, I would spend it all to attend his school. It sounds like a lot of money, but you are not the same artist when you leave that you were when you walked in.
JAM: What are some of your favorite pieces to work on?
EJ: Anything drawn by Danny Allain, local comic artist; Joe Mad, and Menas LG who is a DeviantArt Artist; all really great line artists. I really love working with gums and teeth, jagged edges and organic shapes, that’s that old spawn influence.
JAM: What transitioned you into the digital world? Do you miss the days of a pen and pad?
EJ: I do not miss physical art at all. I’m so big into tech and gaming, and bio tech, I even built the computer I work on now. I bought a Wacom tablet and I haven’t looked back; I fell in love with the freedom. It’s what drew me back into treating my art as work. The possibilities available for an artist working in a digital format are endless. I find myself staying focused longer on projects; it’s like a video game.
JAM: What sort of projects are you working on currently? Would you consider yourself an all-commission artist, or do you prefer creative freedom?
EJ: I would say both. I am currently illustrating a comic drawn by Danny Allain that I’m pretty excited about, and I’ve done a few custom colorings of line works people have requested. I honestly just enjoy working things where I get a chance to practice a new technique or learn something new.
JAM: What advice would you give an up-and-coming, self-taught artist looking to become a professional?
EJ: Man I’m still trying to seek that advice myself. I don’t consider myself a pro just yet; I still make mistakes. forget about them. Keep failing, keep trying, and keep learning. If you love it none of the rest matters.