Artist Q&A: John Pirtle

John Pirtle is a freelance artist with the spare time on his lunch breaks to create an assortment of amusing art. He uses chaotic lines to depict the daily chaos of his characters' lives. These funny yet beautiful pieces are a wonderful glimpse into the life of John Pirtle.

What inspired these pieces of work?
This body of work was really inspired by a few things. My love for children's book illustration, and the fact that I rarely see any such work on display in a gallery setting ,and my own day job which is in sales. I spend the majority of my day sitting at a computer answering emails. It's not the most glamorous job, but during my lunch break I would occasionally retreat to a quiet space upstairs where I would find myself painting or drawing. That one solitary hour allowed me to be put forth some ideas that would ultimately turn into this body of work. It basically started with the idea of a glamorous character doing something not very glamorous. Which morphed into an impeccably dressed colonial gentleman sitting, eating a sandwich, checking his phone. Perhaps on his own lunch break? (the final piece was the image used for the show flyer)

What message/ meaning do you hope to convey?
I'm not sure if there was a specific meaning I was trying to convey. I rather just thought that the audience may find it interesting that all the work featured in the show was done during my lunch hour.

... I wanted all the pieces to be perceived by the audience that these could have been plucked right out of a storybook.
— John Pirtle

Would you describe your process?
My process consists mainly of making doodles, and sketches and then building an idea from those. I'll start with a character usually, and build from that. Why is this character dressed the way they are? What setting (if any) have they found themselves in? I usually then take the sketch to the light box to tighten up the line work for inking and then the watercolor. 

What would you say you struggle with the most as an artist?
I struggle as an artist with really your 2nd question. Trying to explain my work as some deep multi-layered puzzle just was and has never been anything that I really spend a lot of time on. Probably because I approach my art from an illustrator point of view. Which is to convey a story through pictures. Nothing more. There's no hidden meaning. There's no righteous cause buried there that I want the viewer to pick up on. I struggle and have issues with there needs to be some great meaning behind my work. 


Was there a goal in mind when thinking about these pieces of work? Was it changed during the process?
The goal that I set out to accomplish was to complete a body of work entirely in the watercolor medium. Again, I wanted all the pieces to be perceived by the audience that these could have been plucked right out of a story book. That was always the goal, and it never really changed. 

This exhibition is not part of a larger body of work. This is just the flavor of the month for me. My next show I will get back into painting with acrylics on larger panels. It will be a complete "about face" from the work I produced for this show. 

What is the best advice you have ever received?
The best advice I have ever received was to always sign and date my work. And by work I mean anything. Sketches, doodles, no matter how bad I thought they were, always sign and date everything. Now in my adult life looking back on all the stuff I drew in high school and my early college years I am reminded at how my style has evolved and changed and those dated doodles help keep me motivated to continue to work, and evolve even more.