Artists We Love: Johnny Allison

INTERVIEWED BY Michaela Stehr IMAGES Supplied

We chat with local artist Johnny Allison about his murals, digital art and the relationship between collaboration and solo work.

How did you get into creating art?

I have always created art, I grew up in a family that encouraged and celebrated it and put me on a path of self-discovery through creativity.

What mediums do you prefer using?

At University I fell completely in love with digital art, it felt so new and instant but after working in the advertising industry for a bit I felt myself being more drawn to the tactile mediums. Today I am more focused and prefer painting.

How did your unique style develop?

Style, for me, has always been comparable to an accent. An accent develops the more you speak the language as does my visual style. There definitely wasn’t a moment where I decided this is what I want to make a cornerstone of my style but rather a continuous ongoing exploration that has my accent. 

Do you have a piece that stands out for you?

My mural pieces stand out above the rest, for me. They live as a tactile, grandiose, unapologetic piece of the city, with that in mind two murals, in particular, stand out to me, my TLF mural and my design quarter mural.

Do you prefer commissions or your own creations?

I am from the school of illustration and even throughout making my own artwork, I try to still create within a brief, I think there is a lot of value in creating something your own through a commission. 

Collabs or solo work?

I love the mindset of the perpetual student and collaborations bolster this thinking by constantly learning and growing with creatives around you, collapse forces you to confront your own vision and self more than solo work. 

What is the process for making artwork?

My process of making artwork comes from design thinking of nailing down a brief, communicating a message and then adding my own visual accent. I also enjoy the thinking that meaning will be found throughout the process and not having a fully formed idea before you start but rather letting it reveal itself through the process. 

Where do you look to get inspired for your works?

My work always tends to be inspired by the mantra of finding calm in chaos, I love being in awe and search for it in all aspects of life. I am deeply inspired by my contemporaries and by the ones who came before I also love to be drawn and influenced by the natural order and philosophy.

What was the concept behind your latest work?

As of late, I’ve focused on murals, this medium has influenced my concepts to be bolder, and more dynamic. This medium allows the opportunity to bring art to the public, as a core rationale I tried to create muralised tapestries, Stained glass pictures re-reflecting a magical realism perspective of the recent South African experience.

What does a typical day look like for you?

A typical day is probably less glamorous than one would think, as admin takes up most of one’s time, I tried to build in meditation, exercise and focus learning every day and also try to plan projects a day or two in advance to not be overwhelmed and feel like one never gets to creativity.

What are your plans for the upcoming months?

My partner (hakopike) and I are doing an art residency in Bali early next year we also got into a Japanese residency for the middle of the year so we will be travelling around East Asia painting murals and honing our craft to bring back skills, stock and smiles.

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