EK Interview: Jon Todd

Jon Todd‘s art is chaotic and colorful but every piece seems to have purpose.  Borrowing from many styles Todd has truly crafted something very special and very much his own.  His technique of layering allows for the final product to be quite interesting indeed.  Add to that his dedication to framing each piece with rescued and refinished frames, there is no part of Jon Todd’s art that is not eye catching.

Where are you from?

I was born and raised in Whitby Ontario – the outskirts of Toronto. I now live and work in Toronto.

What were you like as a child?

I played a lot of basketball and watched a lot of Wrestling (WWF Superstar and Lucha). I was always interested in dinosaurs and fossils, I liked to draw a lot of comic book characters and I liked to watch cooking shows.

art blog - Jon Todd - Empty Kingdom
What did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be an archeologist. I’ve always been interested in old relics and treasures. To do this day I’m always on the look out for new treasures to add to my collection and interesting old frames for my art pieces.

What cultures have influenced your work?  What stories or legends?

My artwork is influenced by many cultures but the following three tend to stand out in most pieces.

Mexican – the Lucha libre culture, the colours and patterns, the Day of the Dead celebration.

Japanese – Yurei in Japanese folklore, Samurais and Geishas.

Russian – prison tattoos and the way a life story can be symbolically illustrated on a person’s body.

art blog - Jon Todd - Empty Kingdom

Tell us about the difference between Panel and Masonite when using acrylic paint.

I use wood panel when I really want to distress my work. It is a more forgiving surface. It’s able to withstand my belt sander, knives, and chisels. I tend to use panel for more of my installation pieces.

I use clayboard masonite for most of my fine art work. Its smooth for painting, great for etching, great for the absorption of stains and glazes and it is very archival.

How does your approach differ when you are making a painting compared to a frame?

I don’t make the frames for my pieces but they are a very important part. I get most of my frames from Romania and Eastern Europe. They are art pieces in themselves. For the most part they are hand carved but in pretty rough condition. My dad does restoration work on most of my frames.

I have a full storage cabinet of unique frames.  Once I have my ideas and colours figured out for a new piece I choose a frame that best compliments it.

art blog - Jon Todd - Empty Kingdom

If you could be any of your paintings, which would you be?

“Tower of Babel” because it is a self-portrait and all of the tattoos symbolize something from my life.

art blog - Jon Todd - Empty Kingdom

How much does your work change when it is translated from your mind to real life?

My paintings are always evolving, from the original idea to the final piece. I always have more than one piece on the go at a time. I like to step away from a piece for awhile and then come back with a fresh mind.

What does your use of color say about your personality?

The dark colours are a medium for me to get out my frustrations, angers and issues. The lighter colours show my hope and optimism.

I like to always pair dark imagery with lighter colours so that the viewer sees a beautiful image despite the heavy subject matter.

art blog - Jon Todd - Empty Kingdom

What are some of your favorite color pairings?  Why do they work so well together?

I’m a big fan of seafoam green. I like to pair it with orange and gold.  These pairings really explode from a black background.

Where do you find inspiration?

I’m big into German Expressionism these days – namely Otto Dix. I really like his post WWI portraitures.

What does it feel like to sell one of your pieces?  What did you feel when you sold “The Coal Man”?

It feels great when I get paid – sometimes I get paid in Tattoos, food and bar tabs!

I actually traded “The Coal Man” with a client for a Fred Stonehouse original painting – ones of my favorites in my art collection.

art blog - Jon Todd - Empty Kingdom

Name three mentors/inspirations.  How have they affected you personally?  How have they affected your work?

There are a definitely a lot of people who have inspired me over the years but here are three.

Harvey Chan – He was my instructor at Sheridan College and now a great friend. He is a talented artist and really helped me to develop my style.

Jean Labourdette – He is one of my favourite artists and also a great friend. He inspires me to become a better painter.

Bill Todd – my father. He has always supported my art career. He is always there to help frame, to restore frames and to help with installations.

What are you working on currently?  What is next for you?  What do you want to have finished by the end of the 2012?

My plan for 2012 is to complete a series of work called “Troll”. It will be a collection of grotesque oversized portraits.

art blog - Jon Todd - Empty Kingdom

What was the best meal you had this week?

My homemade lasagna- it is pretty good!