Interview with John Bell

Here’s #4  in our series of our contributing Artist Interviews. 

1.    How long have you been doing art? I started drawing when I was 6 years old.

2.    How did you first get started?  Started drawing?  My Dad encouraged me and my brothers and I just kept at it even thought my oldest brother was the best.

3.    What was your first commercial job?   5th grade.  A school mate paid me 25 cents to draw an Impala racing a Camaro.

4.    When did you first start referring to yourself as an artist?   Just in the last few years when I began painting subjects for myself. My school training was in design, so I referred to myself as a designer.

5.    What was the first piece of work you sold and do you know where it is today? In 1974 I sold a painting of Don Schumacher’s “Super Shoe’ Funny Car Vega for $30 !  Maybe it’s in his attic or shed.

 6.    Is art your primary business or is there anything else that you do for living?   I’m an Art Director for my day job.

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 7.    Are there any special works that you would like to share with our audience or perhaps some new ones that have not been published elsewhere?   I just completed a piece for a show at the M Modern Gallery in Palm Springs, it’s titled ‘Moonrise 2080′. It’s of a fat cat and sweetie hovering through the Southwest in a flying car.

8.    What’s your media of choice?  Most of the paintings I do are acrylic. But I still like pencil or charcoal sketches the best.

9.    What are some other tools/supplies/mediums that you primarily use for your work?  At work I use hand drawn sketches which are colored in Photoshop.

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10.  What, besides your art, brings you creative fulfillment?  Doing art projects with our kids.

11.  What are your motivations for creating?  Seeing other people build, paint, write and sculpt exciting objects. Anything with unique character or vision.

12.  How do you know when a piece you’re working on is done?   When I’m tired of working on it. I like focused ideas. If there’s too much going on in a piece it becomes jumbled and confusing.

13.  What are some of your artistic goals for the future?  To be able to make a comfortable living off of my art (at a young age) the way my Father did.

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14.  What other artists or movements influence your work?  There is so much talent to tap into, I don’t have a handful of artists that I can name. I know music is a good source of inspiration for me, as well as nature. I just keep one eye on the past and one on the future.

15.  When you start a new project, no matter whether it is for work or your own personal portfolio, what is the first thing you do?   I think my process is pretty standard. I think for a while about the theme, who’s the audience. Gather reference images for inspiration. Turn on some music and go.

16.  I know it’s probably hard to pick, but do you have a favorite out of the work that you’ve done?  The one that jumps to mind was a painting which ended up on the cover of Juxtapoz magazine back in 2003. That painting and article really propelled my personal art career. I feel very fortunate.

17.  What kind of projects are you working on of your own right now? I have a gallery show coming up at the Gasoline Gallery in L.A. so I’m nearing completion of 8 paintings for the show. I’m also doing designs for my friend’s speed apparel company, ‘Wicked Quick’ .

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18.  What advice would you give for artists who are just starting out? As with anything in life, there are no shortcuts to success. You have to truly enjoy what you do otherwise it’s just work. The best designers/artists are the ones with the best memories.

19.    And lastly, a fun question! All artists have their quirks. Name one of yours.  I like eating canned spaghetti and chocolate milk while soaking in the tub.




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