John Sebastian Illustration
John Sebastian is an illustrator whose work is like a portal; you see what he's drawn and you're taken somewhere strangely familiar but altogether new and fantastic. Having gained local attention with his collaborative project Drunk Music Reviews with writer Caitlin Behle, Sebastian's art can be found all around the city on T-shirts, posters and promotional bills.
How would you describe your style? What artists have helped to guide the direction of your work?
I've been informed and influenced by a lot of different artists combined with my studies in architecture—fantasy scenes that are largely architectural in nature. Artists like Arik Roper, Frank Frazetta, Syd Mead, Roger Dean and Theodor Kittelsen all bring inspiration to me and continuously drive me to push my work further.
What's your history with art? When did you start taking your illustrations seriously?
As far as I could remember, I was drawing. It wasn't until I started drawing professionally (at age 17 drawing caricatures at Kings Island
) and started to get actual instruction that I had begun to really focus on improving myself and developing a personal style.
Where do you typically draw? What kind of tools and mediums do you utilize?
I have a home studio where I do most of my work. There I use loose inks with pens and brushes, watercolor and guache, prismacolor markers and ink pens, and digital work. When I'm away from my studio, I'm usually packed with a sketchbook, a small watercolor pack, pencils and ink. I sometimes do live drawing at bars, or when I'm on a hike for nature studies.
What is the ideal venue to showcase your work?
I'm still getting a handle on where the best place is for that—bars with galleries usually seem to work. When I do live drawing with the local illustrator crew Ghost Empire Collective
, we tend to take over a bar and have some fun while bringing art to patrons.
Do you make commissioned pieces? Any notable projects?
I do, and you can usually see my work hanging up around town for various event posters, on band shirts (notably for my band Grey Host, though I suppose that isn't technically a commission).
Where can people see your art (online and physically)?
How does our city respond to your art? What do you have to say about the art community with which you engage?
I seem to have garnered a decent amount of positive attention for my work with Drunk Music Reviews
, which is great, but I do feel like I'm pretty unknown in Cincinnati for my own work. I've participated in some pop-up shops with Ghost Empire Collective, Second Sunday on Main
and Cincinnati ComiCon
, and have been trying to put my stuff out there more often, but there's always more room for exposure.
What's the next step for your illustration career? Best case scenario?
I'm currently developing a comic book, the concept art for which will be featured in an art show opening on April's Final Friday
at Rock Paper Scissors. I have plans to release the series as episodes online, but it would be great to be able to publish in print as well. I'll be revealing the artwork soon.
Interview by Sean M. Peters