Hi John, thanks for taking some time away from the canvas to talk to us.
Q1: So I can see from your blog [http://johnnyrocwell.blogspot.com/] that you’re a 24-year old Scorpio, currently living and working as a Concept Artist in Atlanta, Georgia. Can you tell us a little about how life’s path has led you to where you are today?
A1: Well, i grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvainia. I started drawing at age 3. I used to watch my Dad draw and paint, and I thouhght it was magic. At 17, I moved to Atlanta to go to college for animation. After a few years and a couple freelance jobs, a good friend of mine showed my work to his Boss. I was pretty much hired then and there.Q1b: Do you still find drawing and painting magical?
A1b: Definitely. It's still amazing to me. Artists take a blank canvas and create life: pure magic
Q2: There are a variety of different characters posted on your blog; greedy girls, warrior chicks, bat chicks, action heroes, ‘Pulp Fiction’ characters, and even you! What is it that appeals to you about these kinds of characters – why do you like to devote so much time working on them?
A2: I dont think a certain type of characters appeals to me more than the other. I like characters with character. Characters you can look at and get a sense of who they are, what they do, what they stand for or represent. I also like attitude. I really dig characters with a certain confidence or bravado. I tend to put alot of my own swagger into the characters i create.
Q2a: Do you ever find that you become envious of your own character creations?
A2b: I guess you could say that. When i started creating characters and worlds of my own. it was always 'where i wanted to be' or 'what i wanted to do' but in an exaggerated, fantasy way. it was like my escape from the 'real world'.
Q3: Can you quickly take us through the basic steps of creation for one of your characters, from concept to painting?
A3: when i begin a concept, i start with the story. what world or situation the character is in and how it affects their personality type. Things like this really help me to visualize it. Then i just start scribbling. I do most of my thinking with my pencils. sketching out shapes until I'm somewhat content. When i'm happy with a sketch, I take into photoshop or painter and paint it up. I used to use color pencils religiously, but now it's mostly just a wacom tablet.
Q3b: How much of your day do you find yourself simply scribbling in your sketchbook? What percentages of these "scribbles" go on to become fantastic full-on digital creations?
A3b: I scribble ALOT. i've got sketchbooks full of nonsense that I hope never see the light of day. There are alot of sketches that I want to take to full completion, but time is always an issue. There just aren't enough hours in the day.
Q4: Tell us a little about your collaborations with Nick Bradley. How do these come about, how do they tend to work, and what are the end results usually like?
A4: Nick models alot of my character concepts for work. At one point we had some insane task, like 100 characters in 5 days. It was times like these when we realized how well we worked together and how are styles seemed to mesh. So, we started to collaborate on projects outside of work just for our own entertainment. We would come up with ideas together, i'd get on the concepts and he'd model it up like lighting! We actually have some projects in the works now that we hope get some major attention.
Q5: Let’s talk about your female character creations; they all have very exaggerated hips, thighs, and breasts – now, are these just your typical observations of women in general, or is it more of an “ideal” that you’re creating on canvas?
A5: Both. I'm drawn more to the curves of voluptuous women, in life and in art. Its much more feminin to me. So i try to portray that in my characters.
Q6: OK, so you are obviously into your comics and action films. Would you say that you gain more - or an equal amount of - inspiration from comics and films for your own artwork, than you do from other artists in the same/similar field to your own? What and/or who are your biggest sources of inpiration right now?
A6: Definatley film and comics, but the comic's story more so than the artwork. Stories inspire me to create worlds, and in those worlds I create characters and so on. When i was a kid i looked to different artists for inspiration like Frank Frazetta or Norman Rockwell. But right now I look to poeple like Brian Bendis or Quentin Tarantino.
Q6b: Did you ever create any characters as a kid that you think would be worth resurecting now? Or do you think they would lack the attitude and worldly quality that your characters today have, due to the innocence of youth?
A6a: There are alot of those old characters that I want to bring back to life, but they would really need some updating; more in the story than in their appearance. My outlook on the world is totally different now to what it was back then, and so the stories would be drastically different.
Q7: You appear to work using both traditional and digital mediums when creating your artworks, but which medium do you find is the most expressive of your personal ideas and the characters that you create? What advantages does one have over the other, for you?
A7: I'm better with a pencil, so i think i get my point across better traditionally rather than digitally. But its more fun for me to play around in photoshop knowing i can just "undo" if i need to. There's not alot you can undo traditionally, thats why my trash can is filled with torn up paper.
Q8: So, you’re still young at just 24 – what do you imagine you will achieve in the next 24 years? Where do you think you will be; what would you love to be doing; what one thing in particular would you have liked to have accomplished, by this time in 24 years?
A8: I plan to do everything from comics to movies and all things in between. There's alot i want to learn and experience. There's alot i want to say through my art. Hopefully by that time i'll have gotten alot of that off my chest. I would love to be living in France or Italy, creating art for the world to see and be affected by. If there was one thing i would like to have accomplished by that time, it would be to have created something that moved people. moved to laughter, to tears, whatever. To create something that made somebody somewhere feel something is a gift. so hopefully i can do that.
Q8b: You talk about artwork in terms of it moving people as if you have experienced this first hand. What one single artwork has moved you most recently, and for what reasons?
A8b: The most recent piece that moved me was a couple years ago actually. I picked up the graphic novel "Superman: Birthright". I've never really been a Superman fan, but the images in the book were so powerful, so dynamic. . . they spoke to me. You really got the sense that this was a "super" man. A man whose sole purpose was to do good, no matter what, and to do that you have to be as strong as possible, physically, emotionally and beyond. Those images, and what i saw in them, inspired me to be a better artist a better father and husband, a better man all around. Art has that power. It's truly amazing.