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Meet Johnny Kerr

Today we’d like to introduce you to Johnny Kerr.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I started drawing when I was quite young. I took every art class offered in high school (probably what got me through it) and went straight into college to study graphic design and animation. I quickly realized I did not fit in with the other animators, and had no interest in going into the game design industry.

I worked as a graphic designer for several years, but eventually burned out. Although graphic design remains a passion of mine, I learned that making art full time for commercial purposes took almost all of the joy out of it for me. I went back to school to learn the art of teaching, figuring it was a way to stay vocationally connected to the arts without sacrificing all of my creative energy for someone else’s product.

I was offered a photography teaching position as we were climbing out of the Great Recession and jobs were scarce. I knew very little about photography, but I took the job and taught myself photography over the summer. From there it quickly became my primary medium, though still heavily influenced by graphic design.

Please tell us about your art.
My primary medium is photography and, although my process is currently digital, I tend to be traditional in my approach. I’m not afraid to take advantage of modern tools, and often do, but I also enjoy the challenge of working within the constraints of the camera.

I tend to lean into the abstract as I find it more exciting than literal depictions. The act of creating and reflecting on art helps me ask questions, blurring the lines between physical, philosophical and spiritual aspects of living. Some questions are easier to explore when not constrained by reality. I guess you could say exploration inspires me.

My art is typically without message or agenda, but not without meaning. I am most inspired to create when I’m mindful. I am very introspective by nature, so I bring with me whatever I’m currently experiencing in my life: what I’m reading, who I’m talking to, the music I’m listening to, etc. I try to use it all.

I am not too concerned with viewers having the same experience as me when looking at my work. In fact, I very much enjoy hearing how others interpret what they see or feel as they sit with my photographs. It makes for a more intimate community experience when we can share our unique points of view with each other and not have to reconcile them in the end. No one person’s interpretation needs to be “right”.

As an artist, how do you define success and what quality or characteristic do you feel is essential to success as an artist?
My primary criteria for personal success are progress and joy. Creating art makes me more aware and vulnerable to my surroundings, and life is richer for it. That brings me joy. I want to discover beauty where I hadn’t recognized it before, and share that with others. I want to be continually exploring and getting a little out of my depths, never becoming so comfortable that I stop asking questions. If I’m continually seeking growth, and if what I’m doing is bringing me and others joy, that’s all the success I could hope for.

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
I do group shows here and there and aim for putting together a solo exhibition every couple of years or so. I keep my website and social media up to date with my current projects and events. Although I’m a timid introvert, I really enjoy authentic personal engagement. When people take time send a note to tell me what metaphors or stories they see in my work I get just as excited as I do sell a piece. That said I would love to see people become intentional about supporting the arts in general: go to live music shows, attend gallery openings, engage with artists through social media, etc. Whenever possible, buy art that moves you and live with it.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Portrait by Boats O’Shana

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