You’d never guess it from looking at his work, but John has never taken a painting class in his life. He picked up a paintbrush to create a hand made gift, and couldn’t put it down. He now has a website gallery featuring over 40 paintings and has six pieces hanging at Jospeh Cozza’s Salon at the Four Seasons Hotel. He says he never planned on it happening, but he's found a way to combine his love of creativity, the Bay Area and sports.
SCOUT: If you have zero background in painting, how did you ever get started?
JOHN: I wanted to make something for my fiancé, Emily, and I decided on a painting. Probably the only time I’ve ever picked up a paintbrush is during art class at summer camp, but I love creating things and felt like it was the thought that counted. So I bought a canvas and got to work. When I finished it, I was really pumped about how it turned out, and when I gave it to Emily, she actually thought I bought it. That was a huge compliment. She was so excited about it, she showed it to a ton of people, including my brother, who was about to get married. For his wedding gift, he asked me to paint him something. I was kind of shocked, but that was the one thing he wanted for his wedding, so I basically had to do it. From those two pieces, more people found out about my paintings and encouraged me to keep at it.
SCOUT: There’s a very distinct style to your paintings, what drew you to paint like that?
JOHN: When I sat down to make the painting for Emily, I knew I didn’t want to paint an image. For me, it’s about working with different colors and techniques.
SCOUT: You have a unique method of naming your paintings. Tell us about that?
JOHN: At first, I didn’t want to name any of my paintings. I feel like names prompt you to make a judgement about the piece instead of looking at it for the art itself. But, it’s hard to keep track of and identify pieces for other people when they don’t have names. I have a strong relationship with the Bay Area, so I thought about street names, but really what defines me is my love for sports and especially the teams that play here. So I started naming the paintings after Bay Area athletes and sports icons.
SCOUT: Do you name the paintings before or after they’re finished?
JOHN: I never go into a painting with a name picked out before, because again, I don’t want to be influenced by anything as I’m creating the painting. But, I have a list of names and when a painting is finished, I go through the list and pick out a name that I feel is represented by that painting.
SCOUT: What’s the hardest part about creating a piece?
JOHN: Knowing when it’s finished. It’s not like a math problem where you reach a final answer. You can continue to mess with a canvas forever. I go through a lot of love and hate moments with my pieces. I’ll step back and love how it looks, but feel compelled to push it even further, so I’ll add something else and hate it. Then I have to take another step back and figure out how I’m going to make it better. It’s not like Photoshop where you can just go back a few steps, but at the end of the day, that’s better because it means every brush stroke had a purpose that can still be found in the painting.
SCOUT: But what do you love so much about it?
JOHN: It really helps open up my mind, but shut all the worries off, too. I have a full time job and am also getting my MBA in design, so painting is the time when I can take every thing I have to get done on a daily basis and throw it out the window. It helps that I have a designated studio where I can actually shut the door and the only thing in the room to concentrate on is the paint and the canvas.
SCOUT: Is there somewhere special in SF that inspires you?
JOHN: Really just the city in general. I’m so proud to be from the Bay Area. I was born here, but moved away when I was a sophomore in high school and went to college back east, so when I returned, I had even more of an appreciation for it since I’d been away for so long. Being a sports fan was a way for me to stay connected with the city even when I didn’t live here. But sports aside, I feel so proud of San Francisco and have never come across another city like it in the world.
SCOUT: And when you’re not locking yourself in the studio, where do you hang out?
JOHN: Emily and I live close to the Kabuki Theatre, so we’re there a lot. We like that you can show up five minutes before and still have a good seat, and that you can enjoy good food and wine during the film. We’re there so much, it’s almost like our second home. If we go for sushi, it’s always to Zushi Puzzle. There’s one waitress that knows us so well she gives us hugs when we go in. Limón Rotisserie has the best Peruvian chicken and sweet potato fries. We have a Boxer named Barron, so the first Saturday of every month, we take her to the Boxer meetup at Crissy Field. It’s always a madhouse.
Mention you read about John on Scoutmob and he’ll give you a discount on one of his gorgeous pieces. Check out the full range of his work at JCI Studio and stay up to date on news by following him on Facebook.