June/July, 2008

 





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I've been in the business of art for over 30 years. Im still a novice.

I hail from a small town in Michigan called South Haven. Our house was on the western shore of Lake Michigan.   Beach town.   Great place to grow up.   I began drawing at an early age.   My folks used drawing to keep me busy on long drives.   I would sit and copy comics out of the newspaper for hours at a stretch.   I actually took the Famous Artist School test where you draw Winky and they sent someone to our house to check me out.

When I was 18, I wound up at Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids Michigan.   I majored in illustration, and minored in printmaking.

Before Animation, I was a freelance illustrator working for major publications and large market ad agencies. I was also painted at least 1 major one-man show per year for various galleries throughout the U.S.   I have had over 20 one-man shows and used to sell a lot of work, though I have not had a show in about 7 years. This is about to change.   I am currently working on putting a show together, but as of yet I have not looked for a place to hang it. I work very large and I like to do installation-type work that is site-specific.









I use mixed media that includes printmaking, painting, pen and ink, graphite and found objects including collage.   My style is eclectic and quirky. I like dark imagery and I like to work with real art materials in a traditional fashion and then scan and enhance the work digitally. I try to find images that are not in the mainstream. I also am very fussy about good concept. It also helps if the subject is a little on the dark side.   It has taken over thirty years to develop and it is still changing with each assignment.

I start out digesting the story and try to come up with a concept. I then come up with a loose pencil sketch from which I begin to search for the parts that will be needed to complete the project. Once I have the parts I can then fit them to my sketch. Once that is all done I then look to texture in order to add depth. Layering to get complexity without confusion.   Color is my strongest suite. I use it to create mood as well as direct the viewer's eye and to keep them within the picture plane. Even if I am asked to follow a style that is already set, I try to give it my own take. It's all me. Always.

Fine art and pop culture tend to be my biggest influence. I love referencing art history. Francis Bacon and Chuck Close as well as the printmakers and the abstract painters of the 50s.

In 1995, Steve Moore hired me to do production design on his Oscar-nominated short film Redux Riding Hood . I always wanted to work for Disney and I was very excited when that came to pass. The only way to fit into any industry is to force yourself to fit.   Always remember to be unique; having your own voice is the only thing that will work. You must tap into yourself, provide something that cannot be found anywhere else except from you.

See more of John's work here and here and here!








All artwork for this article is the property of John Kleber.









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