Chris Johnson of Out of the Dust Designs is a freelance artist in Reno, Nevada. He is self-taught and continues to push the boundaries of his art by mixing mediums and techniques to create unique pieces. Chris works in acrylic and watercolor paints, graphite, ink and even wood, creating original and fan art pieces with a creative twist for all to enjoy. Often focusing on his love of comics, sci-fi and fantasy, there is sure to be something of interest to everyone.
Chris’ story has been published in several local newspapers including the Sparks Tribune and the Reno Gazette Journal and he has been recognized for bringing his Christian faith into his work and business model by donating 10% or more of all his art profits to local charity and outreach and donating pieces to local causes. Most notably, Awaken, Inc., which helps stem the tide of human trafficking in Northern Nevada and Doors to Recovery, a program aimed to help people recover from the struggles of addiction.
G33K-HQ: What is your earliest geek memory?
OOD: My earliest geek memory…wow, that’s a tough one. I’d have to say it would probably be literally running home from the bus stop in elementary school to make sure I could get my chores done in time to catch all of Batman: The Animated Series on TV. I was probably only 7 or so but I was hooked already on comics and cartoons and books like The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings.
What inspired you to start making geeky art?
OOD: Doing geeky art has always been a part of my life, so, I’m not sure if any one thing inspired it but trying to do geek art for a living has been a relatively new venture for me. It’s just something I’ve always wanted to do and it’s a dream of mine to do it full-time and be able to really share my inspiration and creativity with others and to connect to others who are also passionate about these various fandoms.
G33K-HQ: What is your favorite project you have made?
OOD: Hmm, my own personal favorite piece I’ve done so far has been my “Mononoke Hime” watercolor piece, which is based on “Princess Mononoke” the Miyazaki Ghibli film. All of Miyazaki’s work has been very inspiring to me over the years and I’m hoping to do fan art of all of them! However doing all of the comic board pieces that I do are a lot of fun and it’s really gratifying to see them all come to life!
G33K-HQ: Describe your work area to us?
OOD: My work area right now is pretty cramped, actually, I’m renting a bedroom in a house right now so my art desk takes up most of the room in there. I’m looking at possibly renting studio space soon but for right now I just make the most with where I’m at. I try to keep things organized, so under the desk I have a couple of shelving units with totes of comics and manga and stacks of paper and other various supplies. Next to the desk I have small set of plastic drawers that hold my paint and other various tools like rulers, pencils, decoupage, tape, etc. and then my brushes are in jars on top! So, you can make any space work for you if you organize it well enough!
What helps you come up with new ideas?
OOD: Inspiration and new ideas, for me, tend to come from the works of others artists and musicians. So, movies, anime, cartoons, comics, music, books, all sorts of things! Particularly Ghibli movies, as I mentioned before, but also anime like Dragonball Z, Psycho Pass, Cowboy Bebop, Akira, Sword Art Online and many more. Comics like X-Men and Batman, especially the work of artist Jim Lee. Cartoons like Batman TAS and the voice acting of Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy or Gargoyles, anything that trips the nostalgia from my childhood. Music like the movie scores, game soundtracks, or artists like Ramses B, Joe Hisaishi, Enigma, Gackt and too many more to mention! And also, fellow artists Kelly McKernan, Yoshitaka Amano and James Hance who challenge me to want to improve and continue to create.
G33K-HQ: Do you consider yourself a “geek”?
OOD: Oh, I’m definitely a geek lol. An equal-opportunity one at that. I love so many different fandoms and interests that I’m all over the board, which is actually helpful for my art since I get inspired from so many different things. I once read the Tolkien Encyclopedia from cover to cover and I practice HEMA (Historical European Martial Arts) and focus on German and Italian Longsword fighting….so, yeah, my geek level is over 9000.
G33K-HQ: what does geek mean to you?
OOD: The term “Geek” to me just means someone who has a love of something that mainstream society considers “geeky”. So, traditionally, comics, sci-fi or fantasy, video games and even things like history. For me, it’s not derogatory, I take it as a compliment. The love of these properties and products has had a profound impact on my life and who I’ve become and I wouldn’t change that for anything. As an artist, I think that’s what I hope for…that someday someone will tell me that my art helped them through a difficult time or that me and/or my art inspired, encouraged or otherwise made a difference in their life. That’s the kind of legacy I want.
Head over to Out of the Dust Designs website to purchase some amazing art, or find out the next event he will be at like on April 3rd he will be at University of Nevada, Reno