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Artist Spotlight: Jon Guest

Ever wonder what goes on inside the mind of an eclectic artist? It’s sure to be an unusual place right?! Well, we had the unique opportunity to interview Jon Guest. He’s a Group Creative Director at MRM//McCann West and life-long artist. There’s a good chance you’ve seen his work featured on our Instagram account @rusticojournal. His style is definitely one-of-a-kind and always worth a closer look.

Read more about Jon and why he loves to always be drawing.

 

"A few years ago, my good friend Trevor gave me a Rustico sketchbook. He spotted it while he was on the road for work and decided I needed it. So here is this cool little leather sketchbook with a wrap-around strap that shows up on my desk, and I found myself in a weird spot: For probably the first time, I was hesitant to draw on something.

My first Rustico book was a Parley Leather Journal

 

I mean, I’ve drawn on stuff my whole life. Walls, couches, my face, biology homework, church hymnals, actual sketchbooks, whiteboards, restaurant tablecloths, shoes…if you can call it a surface, I’ve probably tried to decorate it.

Anyway, back to this cool little sketchbook. I found myself opening it, closing it, flipping through the pages and feeling the texture of the paper. I carried it with me to meetings and kept it on my desk, but I just couldn’t bring myself to fill something this cool with meeting notes and random doodles, like I did my other sketchbooks. Then came this thought to turn it into a creative project, and I put some limits on the artwork: strictly pen and ink, and strictly freehand. My friend Josh even encouraged me to chronicle the whole thing on Instagram. It’s hugely popular. I have, like, tens of followers.

And so Rustico came into my circle of friends. I love making things, and I respect their makers and the things they craft. That’s why these cool little sketchbooks have become my Huckleberry. I’m well into my second one, and I think I’ll just keep going."

When did you learn you enjoyed drawing and found you were good at it?

"I can’t say I remember learning that I enjoyed drawing—I’ve done it for as long as I can remember, and I’ve always enjoyed it. Being good at it is another story, I suppose. You know how little kids draw people and the noses are an upside-down U with a couple of dots in it? I feel like I was still doing that just a few years ago."

Hand-drawn wallpaper in an office at MRM//McCann

 

Where does your inspiration come from?

"All around me. Everything I draw in a sketchbook is a little glimpse of whatever was passing through my mind at the time. I drew the first line which was something I saw, read, heard or experienced that caught my attention."

How would you describe your style and what type of things are your favorite to sketch?

"Eclectic. And, anything. Realistic drawings of people are hard. They’re full of faces and hands and things and if you don’t get them right, you just make your subject mad at you."

“ Portrait of a Co-Worker”, dry erase marker on glass, 2013.

 

What are your "tools of the trade"? What items do you use? Favorite pens, papers, ink colors, etc…

"It kinda depends on what I’m doing, I guess. I’ve used just about everything to create artwork over the years. Graphite, pen, brushes, computers, watercolor, acrylic, oil, Krylon spray cans, root beer, sand…"

Watercolor on gessoed canvas

 

"In the case of my Rustico books, always a fountain pen. I like the Lamy Safari or AL-star because if I lose one, it’s not a car payment to replace. Although one of these days I’m going to splurge and get a Lamy 2000. They’re way cool. But, I digress. I always use extra-fine nibs and a refillable cartridge. And I use black De Atramentis Document Ink. It flows nicely, dries quickly and doesn’t smudge after it’s dry. I hate smudges."

How long have you been drawing and whose work do you admire?

"I’ve been drawing my whole life. My first memories of drawing are from church. My dad was an engineer and a really talented artist. He would draw something—a little house, a car, an airplane—and then hand me the paper and his Pilot mechanical pencil, always loaded with HB lead. I’d sit there and try to copy what he did. That taught me the basics of perspective, line control, and shading. He was probably just trying to keep me quiet.

So, of course, I admire my dad’s work. But there’s also Albrecht Durer, Peter Han, Hiroshi Yoshida, Mark Maggiori, Ian McQue…I could go on and on. I’ve never been a fan of most of Picasso’s work, but his line art is beautiful. Mark Rothko is one of my favorites, oddly enough."

My Dad’s first oil - painted as a gift for my mom

 

"I’ve used sketchbooks my whole career to concept, design and take notes. I’m an advocate of using paper and pen at the beginning of every creative exercise. Too many people go straight to their computers, and more often than not, they get locked into the first thing they design or write. It’s just too polished, too early on, and it’s easy to call it good enough. I have found that a creative can explore many more ideas in a much shorter time if they use a sketchbook rather than a computer. A sketchbook is where an idea is developed. The computer is just another production tool."

A few of my work sketchbooks

 

"I use my Rustico books to help me stay awake and pay attention during meetings. At other times, they help me to shut out outside distractions and think on things that need thinking. I’m not a particularly high-strung guy, but for me, drawing is better than squishing one of those weird stress balls. It’s better than yelling at people too. It’s way better than that."

Why do you draw?

"First, it’s fun. Maybe more importantly, it’s not digital. I feel like I spend too much time in front of screens, and I welcome things that aren’t computerized or automatic. That’s a bit of a recurring theme for me. My favorite car is actually a little ’92 pickup with a stick. The coolest tool in my workshop is an old Craftsman circular saw. None of my watches has a screen. There’s just something rewarding for me about doing things NOT at the push of a button."

Are there times you draw more than others?

"No, not really. I’m kinda always drawing in one way or another."

How do you stay inspired to work in your sketchbook?

"It’s fun to finish a page, and then wait till the next thing grabs me and sets me off on the next. I saw a bumper sticker today that said, “Don’t believe everything you think.” That was the smartest thing I’d seen all day, and it’ll probably end up in my book at some point. I love things that fly. I like to snark about stuff happening around me. Robots are fun to draw. Clouds are never-ending-ly cool. Have you ever noticed the designs on utility covers in the road? Or seen that crazy gum wall in Seattle? In other words, everything inspires me in one way or another."

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We sure appreciate Jon setting aside some time from his busy schedule to talk with us. It was so fun to hear how he “inks of something” to draw and why he love creating.  

Join the tens of followers of Jon on Instagram: @inkofsomething

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