Born in Helena, Arkansas, Johnny Taylor grew up in and around Memphis, Tennessee. Early inspirations were MAD Magazine, Star Wars, and the rock band KISS. When he entered school, Johnny drew variations of these subjects ad infinitum. This interest in drawing led to a job producing a weekly comic strip at age 10. Thus encouraged, the young cartoonist determined that he would always make art.
Taylor began painting as a student at the University of Memphis (BFA, Art History, 1996). On New Year’s Eve of 1992, he made a resolution to paint three paintings a day, every day, for the entire year. By the end of 1993, Taylor had begun exhibiting the fruits of his labor. Showing paintings regularly ever since, he has not strayed far from the hard-edged cartoon style that marked his initial efforts. Primarily painted in acrylics with screen printed and stenciled elements, Taylor’s output has tapered somewhat from his earlier, dizzyingly prolific period. Johnny Taylor’s paintings may be found in galleries in Austin, Boston, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York, Memphis and Zürich.
Johnny Taylor currently resides in Los Angeles, CA.
My paintings explore the things we look at each day without seeing. Though everything is game imagery-wise, I am drawn to advertising images and glyphs, the visual shorthand of contemporary culture.
Bright colored blocks compose my acrylic and mixed media paintings. I enjoy the look and feel of loose, graffiti-like marks, text, and “noise” against these vividly hued planes. Usually I paint with layers, with each new layer showing a bit of the one beneath, either by transparency, the masking of certain areas, or by a scraping away of recent layers. Often this process yields unexpected colors and forms.
My fine art influences include Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Stuart Davis, Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat. I’m also influenced by the regional art of my native American South, especially by Southern folk artists’ use of text as both a thematic and decorative element. The Quilts of Gee’s Bend are a key influence. I also draw inspiration from graffiti art, specifically the stylized, single gesture marks of graffiti tagging.
In a sense my painting’s are post-modern landscapes- I paint what I see. A painting’s composition may derive from an underpass’ blocky, irregular patchwork of painted-over graffiti. Another piece’s umber and vermillion color scheme may be inspired by a business sign I’ve seen on a street that I travel regularly.