I’ve been following the career of Calgary-based artist, John Gerrard, for a couple of years, purchasing the first of his Crowd Series
for my new home in 2014. More recently, John decided to go ‘all in’, quitting his day job and committing full-time to his art. And while it’s the ‘self-promotion, e-mails, and social media’ responsibilities that John finds most challenging, he took some time to answer some questions from this fan!
Julie: Why now?
John: Things were going south with my work as a commercial sign maker, and it felt like a good time to take the plunge. I don’t have children or mortgages at this point in my life, and if I did I don’t think it would be as easy to do what I’m doing. I’m also at a point with my work where I think it’s strong enough to push and pursue more seriously.
Julie: How would you describe your work routine?
John: With the most recent landscapes, I’ve been trying to finish one a week. The self-inflicted deadline helps me stay disciplined. Another thing that helps is that I’ve been driving my girlfriend to work in the morning. So I’ll go to my studio and work and then pick her up when she’s done her shift. I’m a horrible morning person, so this gets me going. There are times I don’t feel like painting, though that is rare. I usually have a strong urge to create, so it’s not too hard to stay productive in that way.
Especially with this latest series of New York landscapes, there is a sense of flow, motion, almost athleticism in the work, making me curious about John’s process.
Julie: How long does it usually take you to complete a painting?
John: Average time for the recent landscapes is between 10-15 hours. It depends on the size of the piece, and also the style. The crowd paintings happen rather quickly. Some as quick as 3-5 hours as it’s so automatic. It’s important to me that I have multiple sessions though. Coming at things with a fresh set of eyes is really valuable, and helps me know what needs to be changed when I have breaks from looking at the work.
Julie: Who or what are your influences?
John: I don’t really have a favourite artist. There are a few blogs I follow that have a lot of interesting work, but nothing that I think influences me in a major way. I’ve been big into NBA basketball lately, and I find their level of discipline / commitment to their craft inspiring. I find a lot of the art world to be pretentious and draining, and I also think a certain level of ignorance to it helps keep my work unique. I’m sure people would argue this point, as there is something to be said with being involved with the contemporary dialogue.
Julie: What misconception about ‘artists’ would you like to correct if you could?
John: The creative act is often like the tip of an iceberg. There is so much that goes on behind the scenes which often counters our romantic notions of creating. There is no creative miracle where things just appear, rather just a lot of trial and error.
I, for one, am thankful that John keeps trying and erring on the side of following his creative passions! (To see his collection of paintings and prints currently for sale, please click here
Thanks again, John, for taking some time to chat!