#005 – The connection between humans and art

It’s odd to think that this adventure has only been going on for a little over a year. It all originated with me making an Instagram page back in July of 2017, despite technically using Instagram since 2012. I created a personal account in high school, sadly deleting it about two years later around a year into college. I gave it more attention and came back to it around a year later, the account ultimately suffering the fate of deletion another year later. Then came summer 2017.

First of all, I’ve always been an artistic person. I’ve always adored making drawings, music, and more recently, poetry and spoken word. I would always like to share my content and creations on other accounts such as the popular Facebook. However, I was also in the midst of adding another art form to my collection… NOT involving Adobe Photoshop. It was creative coding. I gained interest into producing art with programming via processing/open frameworks, and wanted to start sharing this content more often than content before. At the time, not many of my friends knew about the art I was producing, hence my decision to opt for Instagram as the primary platform to share my work. I saw Instagram as a potential option once again, appreciating the creative community of users and varying forms of art being shared. Admittedly, despite being sure of my new-found love for creative coding and unique art, I was hesitant to start yet another Instagram account (having deleted a few before) I was anxious it would be yet another account resulting in deletion.

Then, one day I was having a conversation with a good friend, when art came up as a topic. I had pictures of some of my work handy and showed them to her. She loved them – encouraging the idea of me creating a new account to share my new direction of art. I feel that if I never partook in this conversation on this day, I likely wouldn’t have made an account in the first place, and ‘cyberart_by_justin’ would likely not exist today. Serendipity I guess.

So, I made the page. It initially started out as a page sharing the creative coding content I made, and even a few drawings of mine. Over time, as I discovered an intriguing plethora of other tools, apps and programs, it eventually merged into the glitch art page I know and love today. I hope you like it too. I still make creative coding in my free time. That interest certainly hasn’t died; it’s just not on Instagram right now. I’m focusing most of my attention on the work you see now.

Whilst I love numerous types of art, glitch art has a special place in my heart right now. A ‘glitch’ is mainly defined as an error in a system (electronic), or something being physically broken (hence software and hardware glitches) I’m going to go off on a bit of a tangent for a minute, but it’ll all come back together. I’m not the biggest fan of the ‘flawless’ imagery that some people, friends and celebrities share and obsess over, especially on social media. This is why I don’t follow many celebrities in the first place. The ‘superficial’ and ‘perfect’ personality bothers me, especially when it lures the public to try and achieve unrealistic standards. It does not account for flaws.

That’s where glitch art comes back in. I see a connection between glitch art and humans; taking these qualities seen as imperfections and making something beautiful out of them. It accepts those inevitable flaws. It’s a pretty classic case of “when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.” We could all definitely learn a thing or two from glitch art.

I see a connection between glitch art and humans; taking these qualities seen as imperfections and making something beautiful out of them.

When people see what I create, they often ask me how I go about reaching the final product or what I use to create glitch art. Funnily enough, I’ll share it now. I create my high-end and resource-demanding Adobe Photoshop work on a desktop PC. This is great in terms of power and workflow, but it does limit me to stay at home in that regard. I do own a laptop that I use, but it’s significantly cheaper, hence I just use it mostly for simple school tasks. I can mess with some smaller scale work with less resource-heavy programs on the go, but it’s not ideal for all creations. I’m certainly intending to work something out to fund for a much higher-spec laptop to allow me to work with Adobe Photoshop on the go, and motivate me even more to leave the house…

Speaking of home, home can either be the best or worst place to create for me. It’s the best if it’s quiet and not much is happening around me to distract me. It’s the worst if it’s loud and everyone keeps bothering me when I’m just trying to ‘get in the zone’. I don’t ask for complete silence though. I still like to listen to music sometimes whilst I’m generating something, and some indistinct or ambient background noise is okay. That’s why my favourite places to work on art are either at coffee shops or on campus. On campus if it’s in the afternoon or in evening hours when most classes are finished and most students have already left.

I’m rather consistent with my art right now, and sharing my work on social media. Deleting accounts in my past and starting over many times, I’ve now learned that if you have potential for making some great art, whether it’s painting, drawing, digital, music, poetry, or whatever, build on it! Don’t shoot the idea down and give up at the first hurdle, and don’t ignore the small steps. You won’t be the most remarkable or renowned straight away, and exposure takes time. Keep the passion and your ideas flowing. It can definitely lead to an audience if you work hard enough putting yourself out there. Even if you disregard an audience, art still serves to be an amazing outlet for self-expression and realising your true identity.

…art still serves to be an amazing outlet for self-expression and realising your true identity.

Speaking of identity, experiment a little as well, as I did. Sometimes when I would watch internet tutorials for Adobe Photoshop/GIMP, I would watch for more general advice instead of step-by-step procedures – seeing how far I could bend those rules and still make it work whilst making it my own in the process.

With my glitch art getting more attention lately, I’m looking to hopefully keep that momentum going. I’m looking to expand even further than just online, and share my art at more dedicated events in real life. Magazines, exhibitions and anything I can get involved with to share my work. I already have a few under my belt and some on the horizon, so definitely hoping for more in the near future! I also want to continue defining my identity as an artist and make ‘cyberart_by_justin’ a more iconic name in the ever-expanding creative community.

I’ve talked a lot about my art, but not a lot about myself. Here’s a little about myself and what I like to do outside of creating digital art. I love listening to music (cliche I know) There’s way too many different types of music that I like to name any specific songs or artists, but I can narrow it down to electronic, hip-hop and jazz as my three favourite genres. As well, I like to exercise and keep up with sports, my favourite being track and field. I used to run track and field in high school and baseball in elementary school, so I still keep that athletic side fairly active. I also love going to open mics and even performing some poetry and comedy myself (which is crazy considering how introverted I usually am) Most recently, I’ve also become fascinated with riding passenger trains in order to travel more. Traffic is awful when driving, so it’s definitely a less stressful option when going to the city. Plus, weekend passes for unlimited rides are fairly inexpensive!

Thank you for taking the time to read about my art and my journey, I hope you can take something away from my post.

Justin Johnson is a self-taught artist currently based in Southern California.
You can find more of his work and follow him on social media using the links below:

 cyberart_by_justin   cyberartbyjustin   cyberartbyjustin.myportfolio.com