Just before my mother passed in 2006, she changed her mind about her final disposition;
she decided she wanted a burial in Nebraska instead of simply scattering her ashes.
“It might be nice for people to know I was here,” she explained.
I’ve really come to appreciate that. While reaching the end of my professional career and
beginning to face those other life issues, I have been asking myself, “What the hell have I
been doing with my life the past thirty-five years?” As it turns out, quite a bit.
One caveat of being a graphic designer (or commercial artist, if you like, or illustrator, or
cartoonist) is that your work gets used once—in an advertisement, a brochure, a booklet or
pamphlet—and is never seen again. A great deal of effort and (in later years especially)
craftsmanship can go into this laborious work that is, ultimately, written in sand.
A few years ago, I went through the task of digitizing sketchbooks filled with drawings both
personal and professional, and was surprising what a large amount of material had ended
up as ink on paper. Then, scouring the contents of long-forgotten folders on my Mac, the
mountainous nature of the art files that had piled up became oh so clear. Man oh man, a
whole lot of drawing has been going on!
That is what you’ll find within, the lion’s share of the commercial art committed to the
“johnson!” (or, often, simply “j!”) signature over the decades. Though the visual look of
these pages tends toward the dangerous congestion of the fondly-remembered clip-art
books of the 1970’s, there is hopefully enough of interest in here to bring a smile, a nod of
appreciation, and the occasional belly-laugh.
Thirty-five years. Was that ever a long time. And did it ever go by fast.