For this week’s installment of ‘Inside the Artist’s Studio’, we seriously contemplated skipping the intro and letting you head straight to the interview, because trying to encapsulate Eric Ernest Johnson into an introductory paragraph is like trying to pare down a wild fern: some brilliance should be left to speak for itself. While this Los Angeles native is a self-described West Coast artist, his work is characterized by a richness in imagination that's essentially mapless. His paintings conjure both visions of places still on our horizon that brim with promise and homelands in our distant past for whom we have reserved the deepest tenderness. Read on to see what Art Unified artist (and cosmic warrior) Eric Ernest Johnson had to say about his cat Albion, failing painting class, and his recent trip to Peru.
"I am inspired by all artists, whether in a museum or the homeless masterwork on the corner."
Art Unified: Where did you gather inspiration for your latest work of art?
Eric Ernest Johnson: The Sun and Moon, eclipses, shadows, prisms, waves, wild nature, bodies of water.
AU: What drove you to want to become an artist?
EEJ: My sister gave me a paintbrush at 3 years old… I never stopped.
AU: Are there aspects of the art world that you do not approve of? Did any of those reasons lead you to move towards Art Unified?
EEJ: Art Unified sells my art, expands my audience, and I enjoy seeing my work in new unexpected environments. They are creative visionaries with heart, they love what they are doing, and are making people happy…. Onward!!!
AU: What about Southern California made you decide to create your work here? Favorite or most inspirational place in Southern California?
EEJ: I was born and raised here in Los Angeles. I consider myself a West Coast Artist, my work is a reflection of this place, it's colors, it's city life, it's natural wonders. Watts Towers, anywhere on a bicycle, Griffith Park, Venice Beach, Farmer's Market at 3rd and Fairfax...
"My sister gave me a paintbrush at 3 years old… I never stopped."
AU: Who are some of your favorite artists? How does your artwork relate and/or differ?
EEJ: Niki De Saint Phalle, James Ensore, Tsuguharu Foujita, Jonathan Winters, Leger, Calder, Picasso, Dali, Giacometti, Matisse, Van Gogh, Hockney, Warhol… I am inspired by all artists, whether in a museum or the homeless masterwork on the corner.
AU: What is your studio or preferred place of work, what is it like working there?
EEJ: I built my studio in my backyard. Natural lighting, open barn doors, working all night till dawn.
AU: Are there particular habits you have while you work?
EEJ: I enjoy the company of my cat Albion, and Bop Jazz or classical on the radio.
AU: What is one of your favorite quotes or piece of advice you have been given towards being an artist?
EEJ: “First thought, best thought.”
"Cosmic warriors, deep in the Amazon. I am still there now."
AU: What has someone said about your artwork that resonates with you today?
EEJ: I once got an F in painting at Scripps College by my teacher Alan Blizzard, that resonated… Arigato Pardner.
AU: How do you go about managing your time between your creative and personal life?
EEJ: I take cat naps.
AU: What are some stereotypes of being an artist have you discovered? Are any of them true for you and in what ways have you differed?
EEJ: I don't believe in stereotypes.
AU: What has your experience been with Art Unified? How did you get involved?
EEJ: Art Unified found me, they asked me to participate, I liked what they had to say. I met them in person just to find out if this was for real…artists dedicating themselves to promoting other artists, helping exhibit the work, making the business of selling art fresh, fun, and exciting… they are all that.
AU: When you’re working, what does a typical day look like for you?
EEJ: Strawberry Fields Forever
AU: We heard that you recently took a trip to Peru. Can you tell us a little about it, and how it affected personally and creatively?
EEJ: Cosmic warriors, deep in the Amazon, I am still there now.