About Dean

Dean Johnson is a full-time graphic artist and illustrator. He works with a variety of materials, including acrylics, charcoal and pen & ink. His original artwork has appeared on post cards, flyers and print ads, and his paintings and drawings appear in private collections across the United States.

The Inner Voice

Good Shepherd, 2015

Good Shepherd, 2015

This is a drawing from two years ago that I never uploaded. I was waiting to digitally color the piece, but I think it stands on its own as well.

The sheep represent three different responses to the wisdom, guidance, and friendship of the shepherd. The sheep on the lower right looks away, its face (and sight) shrouded in darkness. The sheep in the rear sees the shepherd but remains at a distance, perhaps judging itself unworthy of his company.

The sheep on the left stretches upward to make contact with the shepherd. The boy in turn lowers his hand, meeting it halfway. He sits far above all three sheep, watching over them with equal care.

I think we all have that inner voice that tries to steer us in the best direction. Call it the conscience, the superego, the higher self, or whatever you like. No matter how many times we make mistakes, we can still turn to the compass within and choose a better path.

Evolution of a Design

The World Needs More Love, 2017

The World Needs More Love, 2017

I recently premiered a digital piece entitled The World Needs More Love, which you can see to the left. The piece came out of a vague desire to combine the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary with the rainbow pride flag and a message promoting love. As I see them, the Sacred Hearts represent hearts inflamed with love for humanity, despite the sufferings both receive. The pride flag embraces diversity.

These are potent symbols, now more than ever. It is so tempting to respond to violence with more violence, but as the popular saying puts it, “Fighting for peace is like f***ing for virginity.” Capisci?

The image that I premiered on August 9 was not the first attempt I made to translate my idea into reality. I went through numerous drafts before I created something I liked. But neither was the official image the last attempt I made. I probably created the official image three quarters of the way through the process.

I kept on creating additional versions so I would have lots of options to consider, and I wasn’t sure which one I would choose until the very end. To see how I varied the idea, you can view some of the alternate versions in this post. Do you have a favorite?

This experience verifies the importance of creating multiple versions of any idea. If I had stopped after just one attempt, I never would have produced the image I love.

Producing alternate versions is admittedly much easier to do with digital art than with traditional mediums, because the image on the computer screen can be edited and altered ad nauseam. Even so, a traditional medium artist can create series to fully explore an idea.