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10 Nov Artist Spotlight: John Slaney

The multi-talented John Slaney is currently the Framing Manager at Coffey & Thompson. A Danbury, Connecticut native, John made his home in the Charlotte area last year, with his wife and three sons.

When did you start your career in art? How long have you known you wanted to be an artist?

I’ve wanted to be an artist since I was 9 years old, after I saw my late uncle’s cartooning sketch book. I would look through the tome for hours and soon I obtained my own to fill up with doodles and scrawls. Visual art has been an integral part of my life ever since; and my creative pursuits have grown broader over time to include creative writing and music.

Describe your aesthetic in 3 words…

Organized Cartoon Philosophy

Describe your artistic process and preparation?

Simply put, I begin with a notion, which can be anything…life, love, stoic alienation or creeping death, etcetera. Then I wait until the notion becomes surrounded by smaller, agitated conceptual molecules. I choose a surface–usually a handmade panel–and I freely improvise an image by bonding those molecules to the notion nucleus. Then I just let evolution take hold. I try to keep thematic possibilities infinite while attempting to maintain reasonable control over form and color. This process is not foolproof and things often spiral out of control.

Favorite piece you’ve created to date and why?

The first sperm whale I ever painted hit just the right haunting, abyssal qualities I was aiming for. It also sold quickly and paid some bills.

Who inspires you personally and/or professionally?

My wife is my muse and I am most excited to share new work with her. My children are my real-world motivation for exhibitions or commissioned work. Professionally, I find the work of illustrators like Simon Bisley, Glenn Fabry and the late Martin Emond to be highly inspiring – especially from a technical standpoint. The most valuable aesthetic lessons I’ve ever learned have come from modern illustrators; and my expressive ideals are rooted in geek culture and existentialist philosophy. And of course, I think Rembrandt was magic, Joan Miro was a genius and Jean-Michel Basquiat harnessed a crackling energy in his work that I’ve always admired. This list goes on indefinitely, however.

Biggest accomplishment to date?

I sold two portraits–one of Thelonious Monk, the other of John Coltcanceleda set decorator for HBO’s Enlightened TV series. They were to be included in the season 2 premiere of the show. Enlightened has since been cancelled. I don’t believe my work had a hand in the show’s fate, but a man can dream.

Favorite location to create/what is your studio like?

I paint and work in a cluttered one-car garage.

A random fact about you?

I have a spider collection.

One thing you couldn’t live without?

My wife.

Your all-time favorite artist and/or your favorite emerging artist?

I can’t choose an all-time favorite. But, I can tell you that there are countless contemporary artists doing extraordinary work…Beau White, Naoto Hattori, Peter Gric, Ellen Jewett and Martin Wittfooth are just a few examples of the amazing things taking place in modern art today.

Name one goal for your career you’d like to achieve in the next 5 years?

I want to find and master a unique form of pure visual expression.

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