Article From Chew On This Magazine

I started doing art at an early age. It’s a beautiful form of expression, one that I believe chooses you not the other way around. Growing up I was very inspired by cartoons, movies, and music. I hung around and skated with a lot of very talented people, mostly older kids that for some reason let me hang out. These cats were into all kinds of new things, which really influenced me to express myself. We all possessed a do it yourself type philosophy so instead of watching skate videos, we made em, or instead of listening to music, we made it you know. The skate culture to me was an open-minded group, no prejudice, no rules, you know, the skies the limit type mentality. One party would be playin punk another hip hop and another would play some alternative shit that was new to everyone. I drew on all my skateboards, clothes, ramps, whatever, so graffiti was an obvious transition. Over the years I have started doing more and more artistic murals but in the beginning I was just another cookie cutter graffiti kid. A bunch of kids at school started playing the role, hittin up, starting wack crews. It was all cool to me for a minute but I knew that I had more skill then just ruining some wall with a tag so I started focusing heavily on drawing and painting. I knew graffiti was one of the ultimate forms of art when not abused. I never believed in crews due to the fact I think graffiti or art relies more on the individual. I started to learn of artists in the real world who were doing similar things to what I was doing. I saw that these artists came from similar backgrounds of thought. I saw that these cats were in galleries and the world was embracing this culture. I still do graffiti occasionally however I find the most enjoyment in canvas and ceramics.

 Me and my friend Captain Darren started printing stickers at his dad’s printshop. In only like one year we printed over 65,000 stickers for a music project we were doing called character 3. Him and I would roll all over sticking these things up, along with posters and tags. The stickers made it all over the U.S. and into other countries. In this time I was approaching galleries and landed my first show at the Rico art gallery in Santa Monica. The show led to a couple of others in the Santa Monica area. A few years later I met L.C. Croskey and Michele Waterman of the cannibal flower. I give these two the biggest props as well as Marshall Astor of walled city gallery for supporting my work every month.

 Art is an ever-expanding thing to me. It calms me down and is personal. It brings me together with other creative minds. My art focuses on spirituality, religion, science fiction, reality, and my thoughts and imagination. I love to use words in my paintings. I feel it lets the viewer dive deeper into their thoughts and mine. Life is a beautiful thing and I feel blessed to be spending mine creatively.

 Recent projects include art for various records including, Circus and Asmar’s “Gawd bless the faceless Cowards”, the shapeshifters “was here” and Awol ones “reborn” record.. Upcoming shows are all in l.a. but I hope to show on the east coast and Tokyo.

 Can’t forget my shout outs,

                                   Love and respect to the Gill family, Transducer, Cuz, Circus, Awol, Charles Bukowski and the beat writers, John Lennon, math, science, anti war solutions, the demons that haunt me, Dave G, and most importantly, the well read sophisto and the blissful ignorant.

 Please visit to become super smarter.



Poor Al On The Art Of John Michael Gill

John Michael Gill's work is the epitome of urban folk art. In a Southern California art scene so driven by technique, John's work has 'raw guts'. He's not afraid to have an individual style while always playing with concepts and ideas. Many artists hide their lack of concepts behind pop representations of other people's creativity, while John just puts his ideas out there and allows thoughtfulness to be an intregal part of the artwork. In a world where copying a style of art or music is the modus operandi, it's obvious that John isn't trying to be anyone other than himself. John's work is timeless because it represents snapshots of human thought in the urban experience and the things we think but didn't know how to express. You get a feeling that he actually is absorbing his surroundings and experiences and feeding them back to the viewer through the 'Gill filter'. John's art work is the opposite of a computer Blog. The ideas are short-winded and unmechanical, and naturally powerful like seeing a huge tree growing in the middle of a city providing fresh air in a desperately confined space.
Poor Al. Interview By Pirate Cat

Yesterday I had the pleasure of going to a sort of art bbq get together type thing. Lots of amazing artists all kicking back in the 80% weather drinking beers in West LA. It was super fun. Of course, lots of beers and lots of artists made for lots of new friends. One guy I met in particular was John Gill. This dude is hilarious. And, his work speaks for itself. It's colorful, illustrative, clean, messy, serious yet playful, and emotionally driven. Plus, I've never met anyone who can laugh so hard while discussing total human tragedy. But, he laughed in a loving way. Yesterday he told me he had a bunch of shows coming up so I thought I'd introduce him to the rest of the world beforehand. So, here is John Gill.

PC: Who the hell are you?
JG: John Michael Gill, a.k.a.john gill, a.k.a, gill, a.k.a. WORMZER3000, a.k.a. the blissful ignorant.
PC: Tell me about your work?
JG: My work is a language that resides in me. My work is me on whatever surface I use. It's an ever changing thing which is a mixture of a plan and where the painting takes me. I love color and design maybe from a love for graffiti.
PC: Is there a larger message you are trying to convey with your work?
JG: Sometimes. There are times when, like most artists, something very profound comes out. Like if you're dealing with issues in your life or if you're really inspired by something. I try to convey a sense of spirituality. I'm very consumed with the idea of death in all facets, from the shear pain of it, to the beauty of it, so death comes through a lot as well as life. Mostly what I'm trying to convey is the old primal urge to prove I'm alive. It's my mark ya dig..
PC: How many cigarettes do you smoke a day and why?
JG: Too many. I'm one of those stupid people who always talks about quitting and getting healthy and stuff, but damn it, I'm compulsive. I'm down from like a pack a day to maybe 19 a day. Will power is a gift..
PC: What is coming up for you artistically Shows? New projects?
JG: 2006 is gonna be fresh, this year was good for me with art but I'm starting to pay more attention to my work and its progressing nicely. 2006 I have a solo show at walled city gallery, a 2 man show with my girl Sophia Pottish. I'm really amped on that cause she's so good and our styles work well together, plus its at a new gallery opening up soon called red dot. Julie Rico is doing it, she gave me my first show when I was 17.. As for projects, I'm writing a book about death, I'm gonna self publish a book of my art, and I've been illustrating the bible. Also keep putting out my zine "the well read sophisto". And keep scrawling stuff on walls...
PC: How do you feel about art in LA?
JG: Well, I feel it's starting to come full circle. I think the community is getting more focused. People are all starting to know each other. I have to give it up to cats like L.C. and Michele from cannibal flower (who just had their five year anniversary) for pushing art shows like nobodies business. These 2 cats have harnessed a huge energy source of creativity. Really the art scene out here is most likely like the art scene anywhere else, it's a scene. You have your real deal innovative cats and then your egomaniacs. Nuff said
PC: What artists/galleries get you inspired in the city?
JG: Artists: Sophia Pottish, Eduardo Benedetto, Jeremy Szuder, Mear, Dennis Larkins, Greg Simkins (Craola), Joshua Petker. Too many to name. There is also a bunch of dope emcees out here that are on the art tip and inspire me like, Shape shifters, Awol one, Circus, Radioinactive, and Busdriver. Galleries: Walled city, Cannibal flower, 1988, Project, Hive.. any gallery that gives my work a chance.
PC: How long have you been making art?
JG: Since I was a fetus.. all my life. Anytime my parents take the wallpaper down theres all these old kid drawings which are similar to what I do now. They have pictures and phrases. and I hope to live forever to become the illest I can be.
PC: Do you have a cat?
JG: At the moment no.. but fear not, I love cats. Me and my girl had a bad year with cats. We lost our homies Chet and Mama. I don't want to talk about it.. but we will be getting kittens asap. I want dogs too. labradors are very intelligent. good names for cats or dogs are Bela, Lugosi, Elton John, or Hank.
PC: What is your working method? Drawing? Painting?
JG: Really, I do it all. 99 percent of my work is mixed media. I'm young so I have no set formula. I'll try anything because you achieve different things. I love doing ceramics too. mostly acrylic based stuff or oil pastels.. all graffiti utencils are welcomed. I see a lot of cats who already have a set style or formula at such an early age. i think that's dangerous when it comes to progression.. all my art heroes went through "periods" where work was similar.
PC: What is your favorite piece of art ever created in the entire Western World and why?
JG: Damn! uuummmmm.. Well, what artist is most copied?
PC: Do you think alcohol inhibits or encourages creativity?
JG: I'm a big believer in doing art sober. Not that I do all the time but I know lots of cats who say stupid shit like "i cant paint unless im high". that's whack.. those people are frauds..but sometimes its fun to down a few and paint. as for the actual question. Bukowski was loaded a lot, i dig his writing. it seems through history, creativity and self destruction are a marriage of sorts. but im also down with nancy reagan.. hold up, i gotta get another beer....
PC: Why?
JG: because
PC: Sum up your hopes for John Gill as an artist in 10 words.
JG: I want to get really, really, really, really, really good.

The Arts District Citizen By Nathan Cartwright

The Arts District Citizen

John Michael Gill

by Nathan Cartwright (Article from The Arts District Citizen) – Los Angeles

John Michael Gill was raised in Torrance, CA. Born into an artistic family, he was highly influenced by the skateboard culture in which he grew up, espeically the music and graffiti. His immersion in this culture and voracious reading encouraged his development as a self-taught artist. He says, "Art is not something I chose, but something that chose me".

It’s great to see a folk style not derived from the foothills of Appalachia, but from the sidewalks of Southern California. Gill’s work pierces straight to the heart with strong religious iconography and archaic mark making. He dabbles in all mediums, ranging from mixed media to ceramics, oils and acrylics. His work is a statement on the current condition of mankind and the corporate cement that gags and binds us. John’s subjects are often tormented by demons and dollar signs, indicating the plight of the common artist and, of course, the common man. His canvases collide with chaotic representations of crudely drawn houses with white picket fences, TVs, skeletons and gleaming kings’ crowns, indicating the over-saturation of the "idea" of the American Dream gone wild.

Nathan Cartwright: Tell me about your possession series from last year?

John Michael Gill: The possession series started last year when I was watching "The Exorcist." It was around Halloween, when all the networks seem to have horror movies on. I think I was sick. Anyhow, I started thinking about how completely terrifying the idea of possession is, then took a look around at the people I come across in my daily life. The people I grew up with have slowly been magnetized to the needle and other abuses that have made them mutate into the evils of the world. I looked at myself and my own problems and demons. I started to see that people start out very pure and slowly [get] overcome by possession. It doesn’t have to be the devil. Let your mind wander around the idea of possession. Possession is literally everywhere, and people are lining up. I read heavily about exorcisms. I came up with the show "Exorcising Possessions" at Walled City last year. [It was] based on the idea that it is not too late. We can de-program. We can exorcise ourselves. I fight my demons everyday—as I should—so I paint about it.

NC: Are you possessed?

JMG: Absolutely…I am no different than the rest of humanity. As a child, it is instinctual to mimic things. The idea of copying is an instinct. If there is an evil that presents itself in a fashionable way, most will follow the lead. My demons live in deep places in me. I am fighting the good fight within myself. But yes, I am possessed. However, we can also be possessed by the beauty of life.

NC: What do you think about icons? 

JMG: I love icons. I try to incorporate icons in my work a lot. I love the Virgin Mary, saints, etc. Icons are not to be worshipped. Icons are reminders of things big and small. I don’t like celebrities as icons. I like to make my own.

NC: Who is your favorite art icon in the Los Angeles art scene?

JMG: Does Kenny Scharf live in LA? Raymond Pettibon, Charles Bukowski, good graffiti crews.

NC: What will you be presenting for us in September at The Hive?

JMG: I will be presenting work that is still relevant to the possession idea, as well as some illustrated Biblical references and reactions to the ole 9 to 5 lifestyle. I look forward to it.

John Michael Gill will be the featured artist at The Hive Gallery opening September 2nd, starting at 8pm. Check the website at for more information or check out Mr. Gill at 

Curator Nathan Cartwright is owner of The Hive Gallery and Studios, on the board of 3EG, a nonprofit arts organization, co-creator of The Max, and curator of numerous large-scale art events around the city of Los Angeles. For more information, email him at

Matt Rockett On The Art of John Michael Gill

Don't be afraid of John Gill.

Recently i was on a shoot in L.A. from the east coast and found myself
shopping on melrose. In and out of shoe and t-shirt shops i went looking
for inspiration. While leaving one random indies music shop i noticed a
little book of drawings titled "good / bad art" sitting on the window
sill. It was roughly written in pen, folded and stapled together. I
picked it up and started flipping through the pages. Soon i discovered
that behind the primitive sketches was a brilliant mind at work. Each
page was as fresh and as insightful as the next. A make no apologies
look at the world we live in. He is an artist influenced by the street
in the same vain of Stuart Davis, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Keith Haring.
Whether its black and white drawings, colored canvas or ceramics, Johns
work is an avalanche of creativity.

There are two kinds of artist in the world. Those who tell you how great
they are and those who let their work do the talking. John Gill not only
lets his work be his voice but challenges us to "keep up." His art is
not for the lowest common denominator. It's not work for those who are
trying to match their sofa pattern... Good art scares the simple minded
and being an admirer of John's work gets you out of that category. He
elevates art. His work educates by forcing us to become involved in
topics we might not have wanted to question.

John doesn't just paint, he opens up and reveals the one thing
that makes artists great. themselves.

Matt Rockett
Art director
Boston Ma