John began sketching at an early age. When he was 8, his parents put him in a drawing class at the Chicago Art Institute. After lessons, he wandered through the museum’s galleries, admiring its renowned collections. Sitting spellbound on the floor, he copied the iconic lines and shapes of many masterpieces, filling his sketchbook and hotwiring his brain before returning home to Evanston on the “L.” From grade school through high school, the walls of his bedroom were covered with his drawings and paintings. Years later, after attending the University of Illinois and UCLA, he settled in Los Angeles, where he became a well-known graphic designer, creating CD packaging, logos, tour books and advertising campaigns for the world’s foremost recording artists.
A partial list of John’s clients includes Madonna, Elton John, Janet and Michael Jackson, Enrique Iglesias, Josh Groban, Paula Abdul, Shakira, Sheena Easton, Steve Winwood, Wynonna, Mariah Carey, Kenny Loggins, Barbara Streisand, Lionel Richie, Kenny Rogers, Neil Diamond, LeAnn Rimes, Kenny G, Bobby Brown, Julio Iglesias, The Doobie Brothers, The Bee Gees, Gloria Estefan, Selena, Patti LaBelle, Anita Baker, Gino Vanelli, Diahann Carroll, Engelbert Humperdinck, Paul Anka, Ziggy Marley and The Wailers, Donna Summer, Vince Gill, Eddie Rabbitt, David Copperfield, George Michael, Earth Wind & Fire, Crosby Stills & Nash, Alvin Ailey, and The Dance Theatre of Harlem.
During the 20 years between 1984 and 2004, the advertising campaigns and souvenir apparel that John designed for his clients’ international tours produced over $2 billion dollars in ticket revenues and ancillary merchandise sales: a world record for a single designer creating advertising, marketing strategies and merchandise for performing artists.
By the mid-nineties, sales of Pop crossover albums recorded by Latino artists had created a Latin Explosion in the USA. To take advantage of this American Pop Mainstream trend, Fonovisa Records hired John in 1997 to create new visual identities and marketing campaigns for its top artists. For 6 years, John designed all the product and advertising for Fonovisa’s elite songwriters and musicians, producing between 20 to 25 campaigns per year. His Latin clients during this period included Selena, Enrique Iglesias, Los Tigres Del Norte, Jordi, Marco Antonio Solis, La Mafia, Sparx, Victoria, Lorenzo Antonio, Los Temerarios, Exterminador, Gisselle, Noelia, Eduardo Verastegui, and Mojado.
John designed Elton John’s 1986 Greatest Hits album, devised the ad campaigns for 8 of Elton’s world tours, designed the Elton John Aids Foundation logo and created invitations for 7 EJAF Academy Awards Parties. EJAF has raised over $450M for HIV prevention, treatment, advocacy and anti-stigma programs across the globe. John also designed the USA For Africa / We Are The World album, which raised over $70M for African Hunger Relief programs.
A Photography 101 course at the University of Illinois taught John how to take pictures with a 4×5 Pentax field camera, sparking his passion for creating photographic images. Purchasing a Yashica D twin lens reflex camera for $60, he got his roll film developed at the local drugstore and printed his images at the U of I darkroom. Years later, during his time as a graphic designer in the music industry, his collaborations with well-known fashion and celebrity photographers rekindled his affinity for photography. John takes his digital cameras everywhere, recording his global explorations. Photos documenting more than 80 cities he has visited are included on this website.
John became aware of Picasso at a young age, during his visits to the Chicago Art Institute. In 1988, on a trip to the Musée Picasso in Paris, John was further inspired by the artist’s work. Having sketched Picasso masterpieces during his Art Institute explorations, the extensive collection of abstract lines and shapes hotwired into his head took on new significance. Focusing on Picasso’s renderings of tribal forms, John began sketching and painting to refine his own Modern Primitive style. Following a prosperous career in the music industry, he segued from graphic design into fine art in 2007 and had successful exhibits at Santa Monica and Bergamot Station galleries. John calls his interpretations of primitive shapes and forms The New Mythology.
With the purchase of his first Apple computer, John taught himself Photoshop. The process of retouching and visually enhancing his clients’ images made John an expert at digital manipulation. Creating a large body of drawings, paintings and photographs, he began to compose montages with elements extracted from the three separate genres. Examples of his composites are included on this site in DIGITAL PAINT.
While studying at UCLA, John met George Lucas. The director was looking for student artists to create character sketches for Star Wars, which was in early development. John figured the best way to provide the renderings was to teach himself how to draw comic book action figures. Taking two weeks off from school, he copied the work of Marvel Comics geniuses Jack Kirby and Joe Sinnott, two renowned sci-fi character renderers. Mastering his own personal style in 14 days, John presented 30 drawings to Lucas, who used some of them in his presentations to studios. The project greatly deepened John’s admiration for science fiction, stimulating him to write and illustrate 5 novels depicting the future, 2 of which are being readied for publication. Nowadays, John creates the visuals for his stories in Illustrator and Photoshop.
John is a co-founder and CMO for CURRENT EV, an online auto brokering service that helps Los Angeles car-shoppers lease the right electric vehicle for their budget and lifestyle. The website designed by John offers all the EVs, plug-in hybrids and hybrids (except Tesla) for lease or sale, at close to fleet prices. Customers use CURRENT EV’s free car-shopping tool – Find The Best Price – to “build” the vehicle they want and obtain the lowest offers possible from LA dealerships. Customers conduct their car-shopping in anonymity; their personal info is not supplied to dealers until a price is approved and paperwork is signed. The only contact customers have is with CURRENT EV advisors, who answer all their EV questions and assist them through the transaction process to the point where they take possession of their car, which is often delivered to their home or business. Via this online Amazon-like shopping method, CURRENT EV is stimulating highly efficient e-commerce of electric vehicles in a way that saves customers time, money and hassles, and helps them adopt an EV Lifestyle. www.currentev.com
Many of John’s projects start with a sketch. Drawing is far more than visual art – it’s also about thinking. Freehand rendering predates human verbal language. For expressing spontaneous concepts and making ideas tangible, nothing tops doodling. John sketched dinosaurs and battleships from books his father gave him. At the Art Institute, he used sketchbooks to copy the art of the great masters, teaching his brain a visual system that reduces all objects to lines, shapes and colors. By doing this, he embraced one of Picasso’s most oft-quoted expressions: “Learn the rules like a pro, so that you can break them like an artist. John’s fine art ideas start on bond paper and finish on archival paper or canvas. Though he uses digital editing software constantly, John is convinced the best compositions begin with a #2 pencil.