I have always admired the work of John Fellows, his folk-esque, lino-cut illustrations with a street-art flair are masterful, meticulous and undeniably recognizable. Actually, the first piece of art that I ever bought was from John. I have gotten to know John through mutual friends, doing some design work together and have had the wonderful opportunity to show alongside him at a few group shows. John is one of the nicest people in the Denver art scene, he is really down-to-earth and just an all-around good guy.
I recently sat down with John and asked him a few questions:
Who is John Fellows?
My name is John and I’m a graphic designer, illustrator, and artist. I moved to Colorado from Philadelphia in 2003. After graduating from Drexel University with a Bachelor’s in Graphic Design, I basically traveled as much as I could. Every year I would go to Europe for about 3 months or so and after 6 years of on-and-off traveling , I only ever met one person from the Philly area so I knew it was time to leave the East Coast. I packed up my things and high tailed it out to Summit County to try and find work and to ski.
Recently, I realized that I never really took my design, illustration, or art that seriously when I was younger. It was just always something I really liked to do, but always tended to push it aside when something else came up. It hasn’t been until about 5 or 6 years ago that I realized that I really enjoyed doing art and design and that I needed to get serious. So I feel like my career is still in its infancy. Every show I have is a new learning experience for me.
Briefly describe your philosophy on art:
Just do what you like.
Who or what are your biggest influences?
What influences me the most is just seeing people really doing what they love.
Being a graphic designer myself, I always get asked, “What is the difference between design and art?” I’m curious to hear what you have to say about this subject:
That’s a tough question. I bet you’ll get a variety of answers on this topic. For me, design is for a client. Whether it’s you, someone else, whoever. It’s a project that has certain set rules and limitations even if there aren’t any. To me, art is creating what you want. No rules.
What are some your interests outside of art? Do these interests influence your art in any way?
The main thing I like to do outside of art is travel. Travel has shaped me more than anything. It’s the best way to learn about the world and yourself. A lot of Americans need to realize there’s more out there than just us. Ethnocentrism isn’t a good thing and travel can help squash that. If you can travel and spend time in a foriegn culture and not have it influence your work, there is something wrong. When I travel, I normally have a bunch of lino in my bag and I carve my own postcards as I go reflecting where I am at that time. I’ve sent hand-printed cards from Spain, Croatia, Switzerland, Australia, and New Zealand. So I guess my answer would be “yes”.
I love to ski as well. Actually heading down to Argentina at the end of the summer to ski at Las Leñas and to do a 3 day backcountry hut tour. Can’t wait!
What are you working on now, and when will you be exhibiting next?
Currently I’m working on pieces for a few upcoming group shows. One here in Denver at the new Black Book Gallery (July 2), a show in Portland, Maine At Corduroy Boutique (July 2), and finally a show in Japan (August) called “Shark Love” where I’ll be showing alongside people like Dave Kinsey, Kozyndan, and Bigfoot. It’s a fundraiser to help raise awareness about the horrible practice of shark finning. Basically fishermen catch sharks, cut their fins off and then just dump the still live shark back in the water to die. All that just to make a soup with the fins… pretty sick in my opinion.
Any words of wisdom for a aspiring artist or designer?
1) Be nice to people.
2) Talk is cheap.
3) Keep your nose to the grind stone.
4) Get out of your comfort zone and travel.