2024 T-Shirt Artist: John Hoban

1. How did you get involved in the arts?
I blame my mom…she encouraged me to draw as soon as I was able. From those moments on, I always wanted to be an artist/ illustrator. When I got to college, I fell in love with education and eventually got my degree, teaching license, and Master’s degree. I’ve been teaching with the Duluth public schools for the last 26 years and have been making art all the while. About 13 years ago, I decided to self-publish my own comics and sell them at comic and horror conventions. Conventions have been an invaluable resource for making connections and meeting life-long friends. I’ve done multiple shows in Chicago, Minneapolis, Des Moines, and Madison. I’m currently looking to expand my reach outside the midwest.

2. Who are the artists that you admire?
I remember really liking John Severin’s art in comics and Cracked magazines as a kid. I then grew to like Erik Larsen’s art in comics like Spider-Man and The Savage Dragon. For painters, I like Carravaggio and Hieronymus Bosch. Today, I’m most influenced by current comic artists, as well as the visuals of horror movies and shows.

3. Where can people find your art and more about you?
I post most of my art and convention photos on my Facebook page. I have an Instagram, but there isn’t much on it yet. I’ll eventually have a website and an online store, but for now I have some of my stuff on T-public. That’s where my brother got his ‘Smurfipede’ shirt. (Yeah…it’s exactly what it sounds like.)

4. What is the greatest accomplishment so far in your career?
So far, my favorite accomplishment of my career is the interior work I did for Lords of the Trident’s latest album, ‘The Offering’. I had randomly met the band at a comic convention afterparty and was blown away by their music and performance. I remained in contact, which led to them asking me to design some T-shirts for their annual ‘Mad with Power’ metal festival in Madison, WI.  They pitched me their idea of a concept album and asked if they could hire me to draw a picture for each song. This project was outside of my comfort zone, but I accepted out of my belief in the band. My art now accompanies each song lyric on the interior of both the CD and vinyl version of ‘The Offering’. The band also made a lyric video of the drawings which was pretty cool. I’m sure Cory Jezierski would want me to say that my greatest accomplishment is the print I drew of the Greasy Strangler. That’s definitely up there.

5. Do you have any words of wisdom for those starting off in the art world?
I have had to use an unholy mixture of persistence, anxiety, passion, fortitude, alcohol and false confidence to gain any little bit of traction or advancement as an artist. I guess it’s always normal for an artist to be self-critical because when we see our own artwork, we always see the things we wish we could change and view as mistakes. Pushing through that and showing your art can be tough because it feels like your guts are on display for all to see. It’s so necessary to do uncomfortable things and take chances…and you’ll be a better artist for it. Oh…yeah…and if anyone ever gives you any kind of criticism or negativity without offering advice or a path to improve, their opinion is invalid.