We had the good fortune of connecting with Johnny Duncan and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Johnny, how do you think about risk?
I’ve always felt that being an artist is such a risk in itself. I also don’t feel like I chose to be one, I’ve just always been one, so the risks have always made sense to me. The whole thing is a gamble in my eyes. From getting supplies all the way to finishing a piece, finding a place for it to live, etc. Aside from that there are some heavy risks I’ve taken just to maaaaybe see SOME reward. Two times I’ve gone overseas to participate in art fairs like Illustrated 2015 at the Old Truman Brewery in East London, and the Tokyo International Art Fair 2016. It’s a pay to play game, and I was betting on coming home with work sold, and money in my pocket. Both times I had to pinch quid or yen and spend wisely just to be sure I had something when I got back to TX. Definitely doesn’t mean I came back empty handed, there were immense life changing connections, experiences, and lessons. I think that’s what it’s really about in the end, and those energies get funneled into my work and my life. I’m still taking some risks and trying to be everywhere I can be, even if I have no idea how I’m getting there, or back.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My work invites you to a place that I’m honestly still figuring out myself. It’s like being caught in between my childhood imagery consumption and my adult interpretation of the world around me. I’ve been told I have an iconic style with my colors, characters, and repetitious motifs that are placed to navigate the dream-like playscape pouring out of my soul. I’m very stoked about my next solo exhibition opening at Creative Eye San Antonio within the Blue Star Arts Complex on May 7th. I haven’t had an opportunity quite like this one and you best believe I’m going all in. You’ll have to come check it out to know more! I think the classic case of right place right time has served me well in my career. A massive part of that comes from the ideology of taking all the shots knowing you won’t make them all; shout out to Michael Jordan and my dude Bugs Bunny. I also believe in putting your head down and just doing the work. I feel like I get the best work completed when I’m met with my own resistance and I power through it and then I slip into the right flow state. It’s much easier said than done, but that’s part of it too. Anything worth having isn’t easily obtained. I had, well, have many obstacles. I believe they’re there to test you at every turn. It’s the same power through mentality that’s also helped me face and overcome any and all challenges. On the other hand I’ve really learned to manage my productivity and efficiency. You gotta know when to stop if you’re dead tired or drained, protect that peace and energy, come back tomorrow (or later) with some fresh eyes and sharp brush strokes or pencil lines. I didn’t have an easy childhood and I can see that surfacing in my adult life. I think art was always there as an escape and it’s seeped into my purpose. Even though this profession can feel like you’re throwing yourself to the wolves it still has been monumental to persevere and create the things that make me happy. What I’d like people to know about my story is that from the beginning it’s felt like this is all either going to be triumph or tragedy. I think we all personally have the choice to either let ourselves be defined by the things that happen to and around us, or we can flip it, and use those narratives to build our definition to reinvent ourselves to overcome what we can’t control. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’d like to give a special thanks to New Braunfels, TX. Not only has it been my home for a long time now, but the community completely has my back. It’s such a beautiful thing to be apart of. So many times I’ve wanted to give up and they won’t even let me! They’ve kept me going and every time that I’ve reached out, put on an event, released some merch, etc, they’ve shown up and supported. So many accomplishments couldn’t have happened without all that love so thanks NB!
Johnny Duncan Jordan Lackey