This month, The Pony Club Gallery had the privilege of interviewing Johnny Acurso. Johnny is an artist and freelance illustrator who resides in Portland Oregon, where he spends his time making art and befriending stray cats. In July, he will be curating his first show at the gallery titled, “The Pony Club Sideshow”.
What attracted you to the field of illustration?
I’ve always enjoyed storytelling, and that’s really what illustration is: Visual storytelling. Whether it’s your own story or a client’s, illustration is about communicating ideas, and if I get to create an awesome piece of art at the same time…good stuff.
What facets of illustration do you prefer (editorial, advertising, conceptual, ect.)?
I’ve mostly done editorial in the past, but I’ve been toying with some children’s book ideas for a while. The field of illustrated storybooks has really opened up recently, especially with the advent of accessible self-publishing. With the “gate keepers” no longer solely in charge of the content being put out there, artists are creating some really amazing works. I would love to be a part of that movement.
Can you share your creative process, from initial concept to the finished product?
So, I wrote out my whole process and it was long and boring as hell, so I figured I’d just give two pieces of advice for people looking to paint in oils or gouache: Get good reference, and get a good drawing before you start. Even if you aren’t doing a realistic image, reference can help inform color and lighting, and as long as your drawing is solid, the painting will go ten times faster.
What are some influences and inspirations that have shaped your art?
I’ve always been drawn to heroic and character centered images; stuff like old propaganda posters and advertising illustration from the 50s and 60s. That sense of epic idealism always appealed to me. I’m also a rampant consumer of animation in all its forms.
What current projects are you working on?
Right now I’m getting ready for my first curated show ever, The Pony Club Sideshow (opening 7/2)! I’ve got over 20 artists doing their take on sideshow ads/banners and it’s going to be awesome! I’ve just got to finish up my own stuff before the opening…
What enticed you to become a member of the Pony Club gallery?
I’ve been going to the Pony Club on First Thursdays for years, and I’ve always loved the aesthetic of its members. When I got the offer to join, I knew it’d be a great fit.
Outside of the art field, what occupation would best suit you, Snake Milker or Professional Cuddler, and why?
Both terrify me, but at least I know the snake’s intentions, so I’ll go with that.
You can check out more of Johnny’s art at http://www.johnnyacurso.com and you can follow him on Instagram @JohnnyAcurso