Ohio Artist, Imagination Engineer, and Creative Guru
As a child, I had a speech impediment and was even quite withdrawn. I was given the ability to communicate easily through drawing. I also discovered the power of positive reinforcement that I would get when people would observe what I had created. This encouraged me to follow this skill and make it my purpose. Over the years, I have been exploring different styles, subject matter, techniques and surfaces to present my art.
The creative side of me finds release in the production of anything imaginative!
If you'd like to know more about the "business" side of me, CLICK HERE for Jim Hern Productions
The Story of the Multi Media OG
I have always been able to see things in objects or on a two-dimensional surface. Be it a simple shape or a complex image. The image was "there" and all that I had to do was bring it to life so I could share it with others.
It started when I was very young. We were far from wealthy, and as a matter of fact, pretty deep in poverty. With a single mom raising 5 children in the "projects" we had very little resources to nurture my art. I found myself drawing on any scrap paper that I could find. It was almost an obsession! I would scratch images on the ground with whatever tool I had available. When other children at school were coloring "in the lines" of a coloring book, I was looking for space on the page and inside the covers to create my own images. I even sketched on my bedroom walls (with my mother's approval!) with my No.2 Pencil that I was supposed to be doing homework with, and created floor-to-ceiling murals of just about anything that was on my mind!
A lot of artists will say that they were "inspired" by someone, but not many people can say that they have met that inspiration! Well I can! While walking a stream one day with my brothers, I wandered off the trail and found myself in the yard of nationally acclaimed Artist - Leslie Cope. I saw that he had easels up and was working on some farmyard drawings. I told him that I like to draw and that I hope to be an artist one day. He told me that inspiration is all around us and we just need to embrace the simplicity of it. He showed me a few techniques with just black and white drawings! I was enthralled and went home to sketch some of the images I saw that day! I was blessed to meet this soft-spoken artist that took the time to encourage me.
As years went by and more images appeared to me in various places, I began to explore new tools! I was very luck that my teachers recognized my talents and they embraced them by permitting me to work on projects around the school. My creative path accelerated as I reached the "working age" of 13 and accomplished getting an after school and summer program that gave jobs to underprivileged children! I helped out an office by doing their illustrations for newsletters and materials, writing stories, and soon after was added to their photography staff to help build promotional materials. To this day, I am grateful for the opportunity to be exposed to tools, materials and equipment that I would have never been able to afford!
I loved drawing, painting, carving, and even photography! I could whittle with a pocket knife, draw with a pen, capture with a camera, or even carve with a chainsaw! But I really started to get fascinated with different materials and medias. For illustration, I worked with watercolors, markers and even acrylics, and oils. I really enjoyed black and white photography because I could develop my own film and do some creative work in the darkroom by playing with the exposure and "dodging" with the enlarger! My mind was on fire to find new creative outlets! I had many items published, had won contests, and even presented with awards for my artistic achievements!
When it came time to leave the nest, I had a choice of the military (selective service was enacted at the time) or finding a job in my hometown of Zanesville. I tried to talk with local design shops, print shops and even a billboard company. They were impressed with my "portfolio, but I was told that they were afraid that I would be leaving them before they could get their return on investment! It was a great compliment, but a crusher for my career! b I had no idea that college was even an option until my senior year in High School! But of the choices, I thought college would give me the chance I needed. I had some assistance from the staff at my High School in finding grants, loans and other jobs to get money for school. It all moved so fast, and before I knew it, I had applied and was accepted to a small liberal arts college out of state. I didn't know if I had enough money to make it through ONE year, much less get a degree, but I figured that I could get some experience with another level of creative productions. So at 17 years old, I packed up a bag of items and left for college!
Art world, here I come!
My first year of college was EYE-OPENING for learning about new techniques and styles! I packed as many advanced level classes as I could as a Freshman, skipping all of the "Basic Education Required" classes, taking creative and production courses.. This had me working with older students, and more instructors with much more experience! I even stayed on campus during the winter holiday break so that I could take more "interim" classes and work on campus to pay bills. The year came and went and I accumulated some great knowledge from many upperclassmen! I was painting and drawing at an alarming rate! It was incredible!
After just one year at that school, I felt that I wanted MORE exposure to advanced artists and discovered an Art School (CCAD) in Ohio, so I transferred. Applying the same idea of not knowing how far my limited funds would take me, again, I attempted gain as much artistic knowledge as possible, and scheduled advanced courses to the limit of what the school would allow. CCAD was a very expensive and demanding school, so I had to work while attending. I did graphic design jobs, illustration jobs, I even painted retail store windows for cash just to keep up with the bills! I found myself surrounded by some amazing artists and instructors! It was one of the moist creative times of my life!
Although it was exposing me to many different projects and techniques, it took its toll. After just two years of this fast-paced training and miscellaneous odd jobs, I realized that I could not financially keep up, So I decided to transfer to one more school in hopes of getting a degree! All of the imaginative people that I was exposed to helped me find new creative outlets. But all of the "fun" and "creative" projects were just not enough for stability at this point in my life. So, I chose a technical college for "real-world" education and decided to study photography.
I worked restaurant jobs and still did a few creative production projects. Even with making adjustments, these jobs just didn't supply the financial level that I needed to continue paying for school supplies and materials. My school bills were stacking up and tragically, I ran completely out of money. I was finally forced with the decision to leave school, leave my apartment. This immediately made all of my school loans come due, and it financially crushed me, and I am not proud of it, but had to live in my car for the better part of a year. I wasn't going to let this set-back determine my future, so decided to find a job that supplied me with some living necessities like a shower and such, that I didn't have at '72 Dodge Lane! So I did, and saved my cash in my glove compartment until I could afford an apartment.
All the while, I had my last sketch book with me and continued to write and draw whenever I could!
Wanting to stay within close proximity of the career path I had been attempting to travel, I searched for jobs in the field. I was fortunate enough to find a full-time job with a printing company. Although it was aligned with my path, the bills were still mounting so I had to grab a night-time job as well. I found myself being a DJ for a few local bars, restaurants and clubs to help make ends meet. And it actually turned into an on-ramp of sorts into the world of media! This opened a lot of doors into Radio, entertainment, creative writing, and production. Add another "media" to my repertoire! But through that period, I would not let go of my art supplies and my continued desire to create!
There were a LOT of side-jobs that involved my artwork and multiple creative productions from creative stage backdrops to corporate layout and design. It was a wide base of creative projects, but it all helped to bay my debts. Because of so many tax laws, and 1099's coming from various companies, I had to get organized! It was at this point when I decided to create my LLC of "Jim Hern Productions" and to start the path of developing who I was an an artist.
I guess that makes me a "Commercial Artist" now!
Fast forward through jobs as a paste-up artist, designer, advertising production manager and Creative Director, I was incredibly lucky to land positions with very visual companies and each one of them allowed me to express my creative instincts! I pushed what I could "to the limits" and accepted whatever remained. I never lost sight of my creative dreams and continued to produce imaginative creations wherever I landed!
It was during this time in my career that a game-changer arrived! That was the computer for desktop publishing! It sped up the layout process and allowed for more work to be done in a shorter amount of time! I embraced this technology and allowed it to launch me into an all new path! The exploration was as exciting as the project that were now able to be created!
Technology changes everything!
In addition to the fine arts, I dug deep into video and audio production. I was incredibly excited as we transformed from "conventional editing" to the digital world of digital non-linear editing. I was charged with building an entire digital production studio for a company that uses it to this day! The same thing happened to photography, and communications! It was all changing before my eyes! I had two choices. Run for the hills and let my career stay with the traditional approaches, or to embrace it and adapt to all things leading us to the future. I chose the latter! And now, I am looking forward to what is over the next horizon!
I have continued with illustration, creative design, painting, and even added wood carving and engraving to my list, In addition to the visual arts, I found myself being attracted to musical arts as well. Playing a guitar and singing was a passion that seemed to fit into my creative world, so add that to my tool box!
Marriage, two children and a couple of houses later, I find myself in my own studio with equipment, materials, supplies and a LOT of creativity! It is all more than I could have ever imagined as a young boy living in a poor neighborhood just wanting a piece of paper to sketch on!
All-in-all, it has been a magical journey that makes me excited to share with others. I enjoy being able to see something, and look at it a bit differently to make it better. If I am permitted to share, I will always jump at the opportunity!