Where there is ambition, there is work. Where there is creativity, there is expression. And where there is passion, there is art.
Ambition, creativity, and passion have brewed in the heart of artist Don Johnson since his high school days, and the outcome has been dedicated work and expression of a deep, loving soul in the form of art.
Don’s pouring out of emotion began in high school art classes in his hometown of Williston, North Dakota. He had much to wrestle with: a mother sick with multiple sclerosis who lived in a nursing home, a father living states away, and living alone while trying to feed himself and get into college. Amidst an angst anyone would struggle with, Don found art.
When Don enrolled at Augustana College in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, he majored in business during the first two years while taking art classes for enjoyment and stress relief. With a push from art professors and a new confidence, Don decided to pick up art as a second major, but with no intentions of pursuing art as a career.
During his junior and senior years at Augustana, Don’s art continually matured as his fundamentals improved. Painting, drawing, and screen-printing served as Don’s preferred mediums. His hard work and growth as an artist earned him praise from faculty in his senior year. Augustana professor Scott Parsons influenced Don’s decision to pursue graduate school in the final weeks of his undergraduate career. Three of Don’s screen prints have been submitted into Augustana College’s permanent collection. He now has artwork sitting in the same room as art greats such as Picasso, Goya, and Warhol.
After earning a Bachelors of Arts in Business Administration and Fine Art, Don did not take the road most traveled. Don pursued his artistic passion while working at a bank to pay rent. Don began printing posters for local music events and collaborated with other Augustana College graduates to form what is now Harlequin Print Studio.
Being accepted into the MFA program at the University of Idaho has undoubtedly been a life changing event in Don’s life. He has begun to define both a concept and style for his artwork with a specific process of painting and screen-printing. His balanced compositions and focus on the elements of design shines through in his artwork.
Perhaps it’s his youth that causes him to give up more lucrative job opportunities provided by his business major and instead choose to devote himself to art – or maybe it comes back to what he knows is the only thing that can satisfy him in life: meaningful work, sharing knowledge and passions, and self-expression through art.