Interview: Andrew Hem
AH: can you tell us a little about wayne johnson?
WJ: i was born and raised in Pasadena California. i grew up in a pretty gang active neighborhood, lots of bloods, lots of crips, lots of mexican gangs and territorial shit. the street i grew up on was always pretty active, lots of people hanging out drinking, smoking, selling, shooting, and gettin’ shot at everywhere around me. I worked in a liquor store for a long time between the age of 13-22 where i met most everyone in my neighborhood good and bad, old and young, smoker, (crackhead), alcoholic, parents and children which got pretty weird when i knew my friends parents where crackheads or addicts of some sort.
i managed to stay outta the whole gang bs mostly because my dad woulda fucked me up had i shown any signs of being involved in any of that shit, so i always stood clear of whatever the losers where doin’ or wanted to be apart of.
working at the liquor store and having friends with gangbanger relatives who knew i was an artist lead me to doing commissions doing drawings of some pimpin’ kinda situations where it would be a dude with 4 or five chicks located in all the right places get all the right things happening to him. they’d give me like 10 or 20 bucks for the drawings and i’d spend it back at the liquor store i worked at. I always drew pictures of people and characters around me, usually fucked up drawings of people in class, and keep it a secret from them cuz if they seen it they’d probly wanna hurt me. i never wanted to be an artist, or thought that i’d make a career of art, i just doodled from time to time just because it was natural to me. i’m just now starting to realize how much i like to draw and paint people. i never thought of becoming a professional artist only because it wasn’t as glorified or as championed as football or basketball or being a gangbanger, so i drew for myself and rarely showed anyone because i didnt think anyone cared other then my mom. truthfully, i still kind of feel that way and i still rarely show my drawings or my work.
AH: what was the worst crit you ever had?
WJ: i don’t really know, and i if i got one i probably didn’t really care. different strokes for different folks. i just paint and draw for me, not to appeal to who ever the fuck. i’ll take whatever they have to say into consideration always, good and bad, it’s all good in every way. even if it’s advice coming from a dumb-fuck who can’t even write his or her name, my ears are open, but i don’t take it to heart. even as i’m writing this and i’m thinking about if there’s any one comment that stood out in my head and nothing comes to mind.
AH: did it make you work harder or less confident?
WJ: i always compared myself and my progress to traditional greats like da-vinci or michaelangelo, or better yet, if i did a drawing or portrait of someone, and showed it to someone else and i DIDN’T have to tell them who it was, then i was happy. if it took em too long to figure it out, or i didn’t see their faces light up immediately after seeing the picture, then i would know and work as hard as i could to get it right so the the person i was drawing was distinctly recognized.
AH: i know you already had somewhat of a voice going into school. did this make it easier or harder during early years.
WJ: i think anybody who went through art center could tell you that it’s definitely a struggle and a balancing act of weeding through all the information you get from art center, whether it be crits and advice from instructors and students who most often gave conflicting and contradictory advice, or examples of current and past artists make it a big decision and soul searching undertaking. i just try to follow my instincts and my heart as much as possible, but going to art center definitely makes it harder to clearly hone in because there’s just so much information to consider when it comes time to make art.
i never much cared what other people thought but going to school and learning the ropes and possibilities definitely resonates in your head and gives you mixed signals.
AH: how do you feel about your journey at ACCD (Art Center College of Design) so far?
WJ: its been a nice journey through art center. luckily i had drawn a lot before school and going to Pasadena community college before starting art center prepped me of all the formalities of being at school and made going to art center a very comfortable ride.
AH: lifestyle always inspires art, but do you think you would be painting what you do now if you grew up in a different surrounding?
WJ: my upbringing and background is a huge influence on me. i doubt i’d be doing the type of work i’m doing if it weren’t for where and how i grew up. i’m most definitely a product of my environment. i think i would still be drawing people or portraits regardless of where i grew up, but the subject matter would be completely different had i been white in Aspen Colorado.
AH: any last words of advice?
WJ: have fun. keep an open mind. be your biggest critic. mistakes are always always always good. make sure you stop traffic with your art or else its just wall paper no one cares to stop and try to understand.
To see more of Wayne’s work, go to: