Interview with Edmonton Artist Marty Johnson

By Monika Blichar

It’s exciting to expand Art World Expo. Our latest project in Edmonton is only adding fuel to the fire for making this event stand out from the crowd. Today, I caught up with Edmonton based artist Marty Johnson for MJ Designs to ask about his work and what we can expect from him at our March 16 event in Edmonton!

1-When did you start making art?

Art has always been a part of my life as a creative outlet and a way of procrastinating from things I should have been doing as a child. I chose a profession in massage therapy as I ventured into the ‘real world’ out of school. It wasn’t until a decade later that I felt I had learned what I needed in terms of self motivation to be able to create on a schedule. It was about that time when I started focusing on my art more. I had met some like minded people that wanted to create as well. This and with my training in massage therapy I started to put my creative abilities and comfortableness with bodies together. This was a challenge in the beginning.  These open minded friends helped me venture into body painting. I now have such a wide variety of artistic mediums that I like to work with. Challenging myself to step out of my box has become a way of life with my art. And I love each new challenge as I succeed and fail because that is what growth is.

2-Your project for Canada’s 150th Birthday was amazing! What inspired you to use body paint in this project?

This project was a team effort between myself, a wonderful Photographer Christine Young and a creative Hair stylist Hollie George. Hollie first proposed the idea of a group body paint project. Us 3 met for a creative meeting about ideas and quickly developed into this amazing Canadian Body Paint artwork. As a team we narrowed down what aspects to show for each province. We know there are many beautiful and wonderful things each province has to show but we chose specific aspects that impacted us.

This was a 2 year long project and I specifically wanted to challenge myself more than I had in the past. I wanted artistic poses instead of painting just backs of people. I also decided to include a sunset, daylight and night scenes highlighting different aspects of Canada,  like the beautiful aurora borealis in the northern provinces and territories. As you look at this piece keep in mind that we did not paint each province in sequence. For example BC was painted almost a year apart from AB.

We couldn’t have been happier to complete it on our Nation’s 150th birthday year.

3-What is your favourite medium to work with?

At present I have enjoyed acrylic paint the most but I have not ventured into oils or water colours. Sculpting I have enjoyed sand, snow, ice and foam.

I am a person that loves to try new mediums based on the creative job presented to me. If you ask me the same question next year it may be completely different and that’s what I love about art, we are our only limitation.

4-What kinds of work will you have at the Edmonton Art World Expo? Will you have any show specials?

I will be bringing three different series with me. The Canada Body Paint images of course. A must see! The other two, you’ll have to come check out for yourself. I’ll have originals, prints as well as some products with my art on them so there will be something for anyone.

5-Where would you like to see your business in 5 years?

Hmmmm…business and art, what an odd mix. At present I am guest curating a project with the art gallery in my home town. I continue to have doors open up to me that I never even knew existed. It will be a wonderful time these next five years. I love competing. I love creating custom artworks for people. And I love working on my own projects. I believe I am at a cusp of discovery within myself and the direction I am headed. My direction has been more custom work for individuals but I will be creating works of art based more on what moves me. I believe the next five years will have two paths; moving emotional artwork and products as well as competing in more renowned competitions.

6-What advice would you give to emerging artists?

Simply I suggest to try and fail, but try again. Creativity is always a learning process so don’t be afraid to fail. Some of my best lessons I have learned from not succeeding.  Do not ever think you can’t learn more and from many professionals in different fields. Be open to any lesson that is being presented because they are everywhere.

Learn more about Marty on his website and make sure to get your tickets to the event! http://www.mjdesignsart.com/

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