David Johnson

  1. portrait
  2. narrative
  3. bio
  4. work process

David Johnson has been drawing in line since before he was a high school student in New Canaan, Connecticut. He began selling work as early as 19 and shortly after began his career as a freelance illustrator, producing work for National Lampoon, and CBS Records. Later, David began illustrating for the New York Times Book Review, receiving valuable guidance from Art Director Steven Heller, who in 1991 wrote of Johnson in Graphic Wit: The Art of Humor in Design: “So eloquent was his line and alluring his image that Johnson’s naïf work revealed innate skills and understandings lacking in many veteran illustrators.” David’s client list has grown to include Time, Harvard Business Review, The Atlantic Monthly, Esquire, The Wall Street Journal, National Geographic, Entertainment Weekly, Philadelphia, Cigar Aficionado, The Daily Deal and Scenario, among other publications. In addition to his editorial work, Johnson has illustrated several books for both children and adults, including Abraham Lincoln, which won a Connecticut Book Award, two collections of Sherlock Holmes mysteries, and the recently released Snow Sounds. For Rabbit Ears Productions, he authored and illustrated two storytelling videos, The Bremen Town Musicians, and The Boy Who Drew Cats, a massive project that consisted of 230 illustrations. He also illustrated a video of Hans Christian Andersen’s Thumbelina. All three Rabbit Ears books were later adapted to the children’s book format. David recently won a silver medal from the Society of Illustrators in New York, and a gold in 1999. His work can frequently be seen in their annual juried show and book. He has also been featured in Step-by-Step Graphics, Spots, Graphis, and U&LC magazines. Born in Detroit Michigan, David currently lives and works in Windham, Connecticut, with children’s illustrator Barbara McClintock and their books.

Client List

New York Times
Washington Post
Los Angeles Times
Atlantic Monthly
Us News And World Report
The Progressive
The Daily Deal
St Johns College
The Wall Street Journal
Hartford Courant
Boston Globe
Chicago Tribune
New York Daily News
New York Post
American Heritage
Sports Illustrated
The Village Voice
The New Yorker
National Lampoon
Golf Digest
National Geographic
Fast Company
New England Monthly
New Times
San Francisco Chronicle
Cigar Aficionado
Yacht Racing And Cruising
Reader’s Digest
Scientific American
North American Review
Entertainment Weekly
Harvard Business Review
Simon & Schuster
Scholastic Books
Houghton Mifflin
Eerdmans Publishing
Ny Review Of Books
St Martins Press
Picture Book Studio
Rabbit Ears Video
Margaret Mcclederry Books

For this job the client wanted something more compelling than the usual head and shoulders portrait. An active group, or ensemble, as it were. I found some nice reference in a book of Degas’ sketches, a picture of Rodin which I could rotate a little bit in my imagination, and used Manet’s most iconic painting, ‘Olympia,’ as a backdrop to give it a proper- or perhaps slightly improper- environment. Lastly, after I was done with the inked line, I added flat areas of black for which I have no formula. I just look for a pleasing balance.

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