An Interview with Artist Jeremy Johnson – Painting with Subtle Sophistication

Jeremy Johnson’s paintings express an energy born of a hard-earned clarity of purpose. Surviving a brain tumor, Johnson values his choices more than many people can – and he chooses to pursue art and creativity.

Jeremy Johnson and I collaborated on an online arts project a few years back and since then I’ve watched his audience grow on social media and seen his name on more than a few show announcements, from Southern California to Chicago . (I also happen to have one of his paintings hanging in my house.)

An Interview with Artist Jeremy Johnson – Painting with Subtle Sophistication

One of the things I like most about Johnson’s art is his emphasis on subtle sophistication. Many of his compositions use color in an abstract style to successfully create emotive statements that are hard to reduce or simplify, but which resonate and draw you in.

A sensibility comes through in his non-representational painting, which is really saying something when it comes to abstract work. But just take a look at Johnson’s deceptively designed paintings (deceptive because they seem simple at first but are actually layered and thorough) and you see a distinct aesthetic at work. His paintings may be abstract, but they are not at all accidental.

Creating an online store, doing commissioned work and branching out with his art in new directions, the last few years have seen Johnson taking on new challenges and forging ahead.

After seeing some pictures from Jeremy Johnson’s recent show at Millennium Park Art Gallery in Chicago , I caught up with the artist and asked him a few questions about his painting, his inspirations, and the new directions he is taking with his art.


Jeremy JohsonEric: Is there a central idea behind your art? A message, a goal, or a specific inspiration that you are articulating with each piece of art you make?

Jeremy Johnson: No I don’t usually start a painting with a goal other than for it to move me. That’s how I know I’m finished – when it sends a surge of emotions through my body then I know I’ve reached my goal.

Eric: Some of your new paintings are using iconography and cultural icons but seem to be outgrowths of the style of color compositions you’ve developed. What made you choose to start doing representational paintings?

Jeremy Johnson: I chose to paint representational work to show people I have a wide range of styles. Representational comes easier to me than abstract. Though after my surgery, I have muscle twitches that make representational more complicated for me.

Abstract art is something I believe happened only after my brain surgery. It triggered the emotional part of my brain to think with colors and create things I’d never imagined.

Eric: Can you name a few artists whose work has inspired you? Famous artists or up-and-coming artists you admire or follow?

Jeremy Johnson: Gerhard Richter is my favorite artist. Art Voka is probably my favorite realism artist.

Eric: You recently hinted to me that you are looking to move into a new direction with your art and possibly work in a different medium. What do you have in mind?

Jeremy Johnson: I’ve never wanted to settle on one style or type of media.

I would like to expand into all types of media including photography and metal art, furniture making and whatever I can do to expand and continue to test my skills.

Eric: I’ve seen pictures of paintings you’ve done of sports logos for fans of the Blackhawks, the Bears, the Broncos and other teams. I’m sure these pieces really sell, which is great for any artist. Do they also give you any ideas for new work or any insights into what turns a viewer into a buyer?

Jeremy Johnson: I want to be able to paint a wide variety of art to accommodate a variety of tastes.

So…painting logos…they do sell and help me with my practice on detail. But I prefer to attack a piece without any planning – let it speak to me and become something from nothing.

You can follow artist Jeremy Johnson at his page on FB and see his art at his online store and website.