Why I Create Today

Posted by Gregory Johnson on

When I was a child, I used to love to doodle. I loved it so much that it became a sort of obsession, so much so that the ability to draw sort of grew in me. It wasn't that big a deal though, until other kids in school would marvel at my ability. I was better at art than anybody in my class, and I began to realize that it was this that would define me.

At the age of twenty, I entered art school and it was there that I discovered two things: 1. That there were plenty of students clearly better than me, and 2. that even though I learned a ton about how to create art, in the end the art world as represented by my teachers, (with a couple of exceptions), was kind of stuck in a limbo of preconceived notions about what was "good". I was an illustration major, so this point was constantly driven home. I was severely disappointed and discouraged; the joy of making art was replaced by drudgery.

By around the age of thirty, I began to doodle again...I'm not sure why. Maybe boredom, or maybe what had moved me to draw way back when I was a kid was awakening. Either way, these doodles began to take on a life of their own. I applied what I had learned about shape and composition and began to create drawings that spoke to a part of my soul that had been ignored for many years. For whatever reason, many of these drawings came from a dark place inside me, a place that had to find expression. Above is one of them: "The Shock" ca. 1985. I was going through a period of self discovery and didn't particularly like what I was seeing. It was at this time that I realized my true calling. Call it an epiphany, I guess. So I began to again obsessively doodle, but this time with training, some experience, and a hunger for the creative.

Now what? These drawings began to accumulate and I truly didn't know what to do with them. Show them to somebody? NAAAAH. I just couldn't do it. They were so intensely personal that it was almost physically painful to contemplate showing them to anyone outside of a few close friends. I did venture out and show them to a group of artists that were starting a co-op gallery, and the general reaction was blank faces. Even to fellow artists my work didn't seem accessible. And to be honest, I simply wasn't ready to call myself an artist and promote these drawings. I was too full of insecurity and doubt, emotionally too immature to enter the art world as a professional, too confused and uncertain. It's been said that all things happen in their own time. As it turns out, the right time was January 1, 2022, more than thirty years later.

Together with my son Aaron, in 2021 I began The Drive to 2022. I was soon to retire from my day job, and wanted to finally serve what I have since begun to call my Muse. I had reached the point that my art, even though still very personal, needed to be shown. I'm much more secure in my older age, less confused and much more certain of what I want. We created this website, (I shouldn't say "we", Aaron put it together through sheer dedicated effort), printed business cards, created Gregory Alan Art, LLC, and began to show my work to anyone interested enough to visit. And yes, attempt to sell it in the form of prints, tee shirts and phone cases. Why the hell not?

Some really interesting and fulfilling things have happened in these last nine months. Neon Door, an online lit mag, published three of my drawings. (neondoorlit.com)  934 Gallery in Columbus featured one of my drawings in a show. Neon Door commissioned me to create a logo based on one of my drawings, "Samson Sits" which you can find on this site. Some of my works have been accepted by 83 Gallery, also in Columbus, this October. I will be entering a show at Stella's Gallery in Willoughby called "Oddball Art", a label that I embrace. And I will be having my first gallery showing of my "Archetypes" project in February, also at Stella's. I've even sold a few prints, shirts and phone cases, although the proceeds won't buy me a mansion in Malibu, that doesn't matter.

You see, somewhere along the line I realized the real reason I do this. It's the sheer joy of creating, especially when you get it right. Now that I can devote my full attention to art, I find my work is changing and evolving. I have reached a point in my life that I just don't care what people think about my work, only that my work is true to the creative spirit. Way back in 2021 I formulated an aim: that my art would be a success. But I had to define "success". In the process of trying to define what success meant, it slowly dawned on me my ultimate aim, which is to touch people by serving the creative muse blossoming inside me. This means be honest, don't try to please people by compromising my style and technique for better sales. (You won't find me doing still lifes or landscapes unless there is a specific reason for it.)

So, here I am. sitting with the answer to "now what?" Well, here's what...



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