Cambrian: Arts & Events

Film illustrator Jack Johnson to speak at Cambria Center for the Arts

The Cambrian

Jack Johnson created set designs for 53 motion pictures.
Jack Johnson created set designs for 53 motion pictures.

Film illustrator Jack Johnson will give an illustrated talk of his 22 years designing sets in Hollywood at 1 p.m. Sunday, May 22. His presentation at Cambria Center for the Arts (1350 Main St.) is the next installment in Allied Arts’ Art Talk series.

Johnson designed sets for 53 movies, including “The Perfect Storm,” “Edward Scissorhands,” “The Hunt for Red October,” “Beetlejuice,” “Good Morning, Vietnam” and “The Goonies.”

He was so successful that he became the first film illustrator to be invited to be a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Johnson, who is now retired, lives on his ranch between Cambria and Templeton.

Johnson spent the first 12 years of his career as an advertising art director before a friend introduced him to the idea of illustrating for movies. As a film illustrator he read movie scripts to get a feel for the production. Then, after many doodles and a lot of research, he drew and painted designs for the sets, including colors, scale and position.

Once his concepts were approved, he painted a final large set design in gouache, oil or watercolor.

Johnson consider himself “lucky to get paid well for doing what you love.” However, he still made time for his own work by arising at 4:30 a.m. to paint his own creations before doing his movie work.

His own work, he says, is much more difficult than his movie work because movie illustrators have a very definite problem to solve, while painting his own work involves more imagination and emotion.

Johnson has received major awards for his paintings in regional and national shows and is a signature member of both the American Watercolor Society and the National Watercolor Society. He’s also a member of the California Art Club.

Johnson’s talk is free for Allied Arts members and students, with a $3 donation suggested for nonmembers.

Details: 927-3291 or 927-1356.

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