Regardless of winning the audience’s favor for artist of the week, Johnny Lannom is the perfect candidate for the job. After all, he’s rattled off unique street art-meets-impressionism portraits of Obama, Donald Trump, and Hillary Clinton (in the works). The Iowa-based artist distinctly ties himself to his era through the subject matter he chooses, and subsequently forces his stylings upon. Donald spewing from the mouth? A nuclear bomb from Hillary’s head? We’ve seen pretty much everything in this election, but we have not yet seen what this artist has to offer.
Vango: When did you start creating art?
Johnny: I started creating art when I was 5 years old. Drawing pictures from my imagination.
V: How have things evolved in life and art over that time?
J: As I have evolved as a human being, my art has evolved with me. I have paid close attention to when my art evolves or improves, and it seems to happen naturally. Sometimes I have seen that my art evolves when something memorable affects my life. An example would be,’when my ex girlfriend left me, I naturally had more time to devote to my art, allowing it to grow or improve.’
V: Describe your workspace scene to us…is it calm and quite, or lots of energy, or something else completely?
J: I’ve had to describe this to myself a lot, and the two words that come to mind are ‘controlled chaos’.
V: Your work seems like a bit of a fusion of styles, how would you describe it?
J: I would definitely say it is a fusion of styles, I think that’s a great way to describe it and it makes perfect sense. Along with that, my work was inspired by a few figures and ideas. Some of my inspiration comes from Alphonse Mucha, Edward Manet, Monet. I would describe myself as an impressionist that strives to be colorful. I play with relevant ideas in the press and iconic imagery that can connect with the masses.
V: What materials do you generally use?
J: Generally I paint on canvas using acrylic paint. I enjoy experimenting with found materials and spray paint in conjunction with my normal mediums. In the near future I will try my hand at oil painting. I’ve always been impressed with photo realism and super realism and would like to explore that style as well.
V: What do you mean when you say “no piece is ever really finished”?
J: Personally, I believe that if something is finished then it is perfect. And most people know that nothing is perfect, so then it is easy to understand why no piece is ever finished. What I mean by that is simply that all pieces of art are abandoned. A painter finds a moment in time when he/she feels the painting to appear complete and can walk away from it. It is an idea adopted from Picasso I believe, but has been interpreted by myself and understood as of recent.
Personally, I believe that if something is finished then it is perfect. And most people know that nothing is perfect, so then it is easy to understand why no piece is ever finished.
V: Do you ever revisit pieces after months or years?
J: I often times revisit pieces from the past. Whether it is a piece I deemed complete or one I abandoned too early, I can always find more to do to a piece of artwork that will improve it and bring it closer to completion.
V: Pop culture figures are seen throughout your work, how do you choose who you will paint?
J: Usually my inspiration comes from an aesthetic that I have passion for or a connection with. I must have some sort of affinity with my subject matter or the quality will lack in some way. When I have a connection with my subject matter or reference image, my work will be optimum and will cause little to no stress throughout its creation.
V: You’ve done Obama, and Trump, is there a Hillary painting in your future?
J: Currently, I am still working on a Hillary painting. It began when I first started the Trump piece, but was overworked when it took the wrong direction. I chose to abandon it for the time being. I will revisit it soon after the presidential race is over.
V: Tell us a little bit about creating the trump piece?
J: I had just learned about who was running for president and the image of Donald Trump with missiles coming out of his mouth was the first image that popped into my head.
V: How do you think portraits can show who the person is on the inside?
J: Portraits can be very unbiased depending on how accurately the artist can portray a subject. Having said that, I’m not sure exactly how to answer that question.
V: Name 3 things you can’t live without in your studio..
J: Light, music, and cigarettes.
V: Describe yourself in a word:
To see more from this eccentric and wildly talented artist, follow Johnny Lannom on Vango and view his work here.
Also published on Medium.