Interview by Tonia Trotter
Photos by Ambre Amari
Known for his vibrant, figurative paintings, artist Jon Osborne lent his vision and talent to Birmingham’s artistic and collaborative mural movement last summer. Jon shares with us how his work is a vehicle for empathy and his creative passion.
You moved to Birmingham in a more corporate position but have made the shift to full-time artist. Where did your creative passion begin?
I moved to Birmingham 10 years ago where I worked in the print production field and was a freelance graphic designer at the time. Throughout my other professions, I felt as if I couldn’t pursue my artistic passion.
My creative passion for being an artist came from early childhood. I was very visual as a kid and found art therapeutic when times were tough. Over time it became what I truly enjoy and a driving force that I pursued in college.
What personal or professional experiences have impacted how you view your work as an artist?
The professional experience that has impacted me and how I view my work is continuing to create during these times. My personal experience that has impacted me gives me hope on my self-discovery journey and healing.
Sometimes, it can seem like society measures our achievements within rigid parameters of success. Perseverance can be overlooked as an achievement on its own.
As an artist, you’re given the opportunity to create a work of art from a place that brings you the joy which can be attributed to success.
Last year, there was a mural that I painted downtown where perseverance played a factor because I was determined to complete it. While recovering from my traumatic brain injury, I wanted to make a statement, “We are in this together.” The word “all” can be considered as a society, tribe, family, or friends.
Given that there are imperfections in the mural, the message was what was important to me at that given time. It is great to see the murals by other talented artists in Birmingham as well, that’s an achievement of our society.
Was there an a-ha moment when you decided to pursue art full time? What challenges have you navigated since then?
I decided to pursue art full time and professionally in 2017 — a choice that has been fulfilling yet challenging at times. The support of collectors as well as being able to participate in art festivals including Magic City Art Connection, Kentuck Festival of the Arts, and other virtual shows have made it possible to navigate certain challenges.
How have you continued to find inspiration in yourself during a time that has felt solitary for many of us?
My inspiration comes from listening to music, being a part of a support group, and volunteering. I try to be present in the moment, to focus on my craft, and allow inspiration came and go.