Artist: John Harrison
Band: North Elementary
Tell me about your background. Where you’re from, where you grew up, what interested you as a kid?
Born and raised in Matthews NC. As a kid I was interested in radios, drawing, books, TV and sports.
How long have you been performing music and how long have you been with your band?
I’ve been performing music since 6th grade where I started playing trombone. In high school I laid down the trombone for drums and continue playing in rock bands and picking up guitar and songwriting in college. I’ve played in many bands over the years, most notably The Comas (1998-2002) and my current band North Elementary (2000something - present day).
Was there one defining moment that made you choose music (and/or art) as a profession and life style, or did it happen over time as the sum of many smaller moments - or in a completely different way?
I suppose I always knew it would be in my life. The role it has played has differed over time in my life as opportunities and perspectives have changed. It is immensely important to my well being. It’s a way in which I find relation to the world around me that makes sense to me. Creating is addictive to me - from thoughts and ideas to the process of creating the work until there is tangible evidence of ideas. The original thoughts and motivations that initiate the process are the parts I am addicted to - the final product is evidence of that addiction, not the end goal. At various points in my life I’ve been able to support aspects of my life via my music/art but most of the time it is not the biggest wage earner in my life. I do remember the first time I was able to pay my rent from an art showing….it was a very cool feeling. Most of the money my music/art makes for me goes back into those endeavors. It is certainly a lifestyle vs. profession if a label is needed.
When did you find yourself getting into visual art?
As a kid I loved to draw - so I guess at a young age. In my mid twenties I started painting again and had showings. Over the last 6 or so years I’ve mainly been interested in screen printing, photography, film, painting on canvas and wood.
What has been your biggest influence in the art world (both music & visual)? Where do you find inspiration for both your music and your visual art?
I’m influenced by other musicians and artists and their works (books, songs, paintings, films) - girls - being outside/nature - friends - good and bad times - being humbled - being excited and overwhelmed - boredom - personal insights/observations - daydreams - things that happen in my head as I sleep. Laid Dixon - Ron Liberti - Sara Bell.
What mediums do you prefer to work in?
Spray paint, house paint, screen printing, stickers, wood, canvas, acrylics, photos, film
Do you have a routine or process that you like to work through?
Not really - I just dive in really - I dont measure or perfectly center things (I eyeball everything) - as pieces feel like they are being done I place them around my house anywhere I can find a spot and usually determine if they are done when they don’t bother me. This can take a while often times and many finished pieces are sometimes the 3rd or 4th versions of a similar work painted on top of each other. It seems to be more of a process in which I find the parts of things I don’t like, not creating things I like - a bit like carving out a finished piece not building one.
Is there a particular piece of art that you are most proud of? (In other words, do you have a favorite?)
Most of the time the last piece I do is my favorite as it was closest to the process which is what I enjoy. There was a painting I sold at the first MSR show call “Lazynaut” I really liked. As far as the pieces in this years MSR show I’m pretty fond of “The Owls of New York” as it wasn’t really intended or created as a show piece (it was a scrap/test print for another screen print project) and was my workspace floor for a while that turned out to be really cool looking to me.
How did you get involved with the Minus Sound Research show?
I curate the show with Maria Albani - we created the idea in a van while touring 5 years ago.
Have you shown your art in any shows or galleries previously?
Yes - mainly coffee shops and even the Carrboro Town Hall
What would you say to someone who is new to this show?
Thanks for coming - check out all this cool stuff!
What would you say to someone who saw this show last year?
Thanks for coming back - check out all this cool stuff!
Do you get something different out of visual art than you do from music? Or do you see a direct correlation between the two art forms?
Well both really. To me both add perspective on the motivations that initiate both mediums. More insight and options to create and relate to the world around me. Music can be very visual to me. The visual art is not really musical for me but there is often times more going on in my head than just staring at a piece as you look at it.
Anything else you want to share about this upcoming Minus Sound Research Show?
Come on out and enjoy yourself……start a band and make some visual art and you could one day be an artist in MSR!