What is your name and your current occupation?
Darnell Johnson I am an Illustrator and Visual Development Artist, who enjoys telling stories with color and light.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I didn’t really have any crazy jobs. Starting in high school I started my own t-shirt airbrush business. I designed business cards, flyers, logos, and painted portraits.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
I would have to say the freelance Marvel gig I worked on pencils for “Dog Pool Vs Void Mutt” in “DeadPool Family”. It was my first big professional job. Still fairly new in my career so I’m sure there will be other projects that I’m proud of in the future.
How did you become interested in animation?
I’ve always love to draw since I was little creating my own comics at home. It was my elementary school art teacher Mrs. C who told me one day to draw my own cartoon characters. From that day on I started to develop short stories to design characters for. They weren’t your greatest stories but it was a start. As I got older my appetite for animation grew because of my diet of Disney movies, Saturday morning cartoons, videogames, movies, and anime. I wanted to be a part of this art form that inspired me so much as a kid, to one day have my own impact on animation to inspire the next generation.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I’m from the 305 Miami! I came to Atlanta to go to school at Atlanta College of Art which was later taken over by Savannah College of Art and Design. At Scad I majored in sequential art with a minor in painting. I graduated in 2010. Along with sequential pages I was also learning concept art, which helped with developing my skills in visual development.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
Once I get to work I’ll grub on some breakfast. Then I’ll warm up with some sketches…and move on to the task at hand. Every now a then I’ll get up and stretch the legs and lips. Some X-box before I grab a bite for lunch. Funny because I don’t play at home, I mostly use it as a DVD player.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
The fact that I’m drawing for a living is ultimately the best part of my job. But there’s a moment when I’m drawing I zone out and my hand copy line for line, color for color what I’m envisioning in my head to the surface I choose to create on.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
Artist block, it comes out of nowhere. It’s hard when you have to create something to show and nothing creative comes to mind. That’s when I look at some of my favorite artist or just doing something else besides drawing and come back to the page fresh.
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
I mostly work with pencil, pen, paper, and computer. When those tools don’t give me what I need to express what it is I’m trying to communicate. I’ll move on to my paints, pastels and charcoal.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
Sometimes finding that balance between what life throws at you and continuing to grow as an artist.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
I would love to work with a lot of greats, hopefully in the future.
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
Growing up an watching my mom work so hard to raise three children by herself. I’m blessed to have her. She sacrifice so much so that me and my sisters can have what we needed.
Any side projects or you’re working on or hobbies you’d like to share details of?
I’m about to start a new project about this young graffiti artist from Brazil who later moves to New York. I haven’t been to either place, so it should be interesting project to work on. I also keep a weekly blog: http://www.illink-
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
I’m able to consume a pack of twizzlers in under 45 minutes, if that counts for unusual. lol But I do enjoy a good game of basketball. If you’re lucky you may catch me singing a little. I TRY. lol But in the shower oh man, I’ll put my shower recording up against any of the greats.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Just draw and keep drawing. Be inspired by the world around you and experiences then draw some more. The first drawing you draw with your heart then the second pass you draw with your mind.