John Detrich is an artist and graphic designer with a unique style. His fan-loving art has appeared on trading cards, t-shirts, magazines, posters and even tattoos! He is most well-known for his ultra-creative monster hot rod artwork. He also paints realistic and cartoon pet portraits. He’s been featured in magazines such as The Washington Post Magazine and Car Kulture Deluxe Magazine. He’s the co-creator of “Funny Fiends”, a wax pack sticker series which is a tribute to 1960’s monsters stickers. John and I collaborated on a restaurant wall mural a few years ago and it was amazing to see him in action. A versatile painter and amazingly inventive illustrator, John is a true artist and creative genius.
Q&A with John Detrich
Q. Before you were a career creative, you had a totally different career. Tell us about what you did and why you made the transition to freelance artist and graphic designer.
A. After graduating from Virginia Tech with a degree in Biology, I worked in laboratories for over 10 years as a technician and later in administrative positions but, I’ve always had a knack for art since I was a kid. After having kids myself, my wife, Bonnie, and I found the cost of day care was so much that it made more sense for me take over the day care duties and start into freelance art and graphic design work.
Q. How do you define your artistic style and what major influences have impacted your style over the years?
A. I have several styles and have many influences. I can do realism working from photographs or from life. Much of my pet portraits are in this style. At times I can add a loose abstract look which can add energy to a piece.
I’m also well-versed in Photoshop and Illustrator and have done work that incorporates either a clean vector look or a hand-drawn look.
But I’m mainly known for my funny monster artwork which is influenced by comic book artists and illustrators from the ‘60s like Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, Ed Newton, B.K. Taylor, Wally Wood, Basil Wolverton, Norm Saunders, Jack Davis, Frank Frazetta and so many more, too numerous to list. I work with pencil, ink and paint to capture that old school look.
Q. You recently ran a successful Kickstarter campaign (whoohoo, John!). How did you decide to try this and how did it go?
A. Sidekick Lab, the trading card publisher we are working with for the Funny Fiends stickers, has a history with funding projects with Kickstarter so we relied on their experience and were pleased with the result! We were funded three times our funding goal!
Click here to see the Funny Fiends Kickstarter Campaign
Q. What is your favorite medium to work with and can you share your favorite creation ever?
A. Though I enjoy many mediums, I would have to say acrylic paint is my favorite medium though it can be frustrating as well. I can’t say I have a favorite creation though I’ve been involved in many projects that were fantastic to be part of! I did a trading card series in 1999 called the Hot Rod Super Freaks. In 2004, I designed a toy car line called the Creepsters. I designed Halloween masks. I worked on a pig driver sculpt for a bumper car model kit called the Thunderpig. And Funny Fiends, the sticker project I’m working on currently with friend and fellow artist, Stephen Blickenstaff, is a dream come true!
Q. What advice do you have for other creatives wanting to make their passion a career?
A. Keep sketch books going and use them to build a body of work. Do what you can to get your artwork seen. Participate in group shows. Seek out like-minded galleries. Do artwork for interests outside of art. Post your work on social media. Keep learning your craft and make friends with other artists!
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