I’ve known John Barrick for a few years now, and ever since I met him he has always been the nicest dude. My first impression of him was, he seems like the kind of guy that would help an old lady move her piano up a flight of stairs all by himself and not even complain. But besides being a great guy, he’s an amazing artist. From his sign painting, clothing designs, artwork, and co-running a art gallery, he is definitely one hard working dude. I had a chance to stop by cannery park to catch up and talk art, life and the future.
OD: Who are you and what do you do?
JB: My name is John Barrick and I draw pretty things for a living.
OD: Whats you’re background?
JB: I grew up pretty cool. I have really supportive parents that helped me out a lot. I have a little brother that pretty much made my decision making through my life the way I am now. I grew up skateboarding, riding bmx, dirtbikes, building cars, drawing and painting since I could remember. I just love doing art and now that I have the opportunity to do it for a living, I don’t want to let it pass me by.
OD: I see the social distortion shirt, what kind of music do you listen too?
JB: I listen to a lot of stuff. I like listening to classical music a lot in the morning and when I’m doing sign painting. It helps me concentrate and it helps me stay steady. I like punk rock, older metal, jazz, oldies, I pretty much like it all. Good music is good music no matter how you look at it. If people can play their instruments and sing well I think that’s the raddest thing, cause I have no musical talent at all.
OD: How would you describe the art scene in San Jose right now?
JB: The art scene in San Jose is building up pretty good. I’m really blessed to have my partner here (Abel Gonzalez) he keeps me really motivated, and I hope I can do the same for him. All the people our age are really trying to push it and move independently and are trying to build up the art scene in San Jose. There’s always been one here but now its really picking up and were starting to get noticed for all the hard work we’ve been putting in.
OD: Whats your art background?
JB: I remember being in elementary school drawing all the lil homies characters. I would draw a lot of skateboarding and comic art, stuff that Jim Phillips and Robert Williams would draw because It caught my attention when I was younger. Since I was a kid I was always into the masters like Rembrandt, Caravaggio, Leonardo Di Vinci and those who I knew at the time.
OD: What’s your ideal day art wise?
JB: If I got to do what I wanted to do, I would go to the beach and surf for a bit and meditate on that and just chill in nature. I would go hiking in the woods and paint scenes like that and throw monsters in the scene and flip it out all weird. Which is kind of where my art work has evolved too, Its has a real pictorial natural feeling to it but like on the weirder side. But my typical day consists of sketching out ideas and I try to come up with off the wall stuff.
OD: Who are some of you favorite artists?
JB: They are too much to name (laughs)
OD: Okay how bout a top 5?
JB: Naw I gotta name more than 5 dude. There are so many different genres that I like and that have influenced me its gnarly. I have the local dudes Orly Locquiao, Jessico Serrano, Sam Rodriguez who has been a huge inspiring person in my life. I have my partner Abel Gonzalez and this guy is a beast man. His work ethic is so gnarly (laughs) his stuff is dope. I went to school with Ivan Gonzalez and we learned how to paint together. That guy is such an amazing painter and it makes me sick how good he is (laughs). In photography I have my buddy Abraham Menor and he’s been a big mentor for me and has shown me a lot of stuff. Outside of the local scene, one guy who’s real inspiring to me is Barry Mcgee. A lot of graffiti writers, the MSK dudes are really inspiring, that dude POSE is one of my favorites. There are so many writers out there that are pushing the boundaries and doing gnarly stuff. Aaron De La Cruz stuff is sick and I really like it. And then we go to sign painting and my good friend Ken Davis is killin it. That guys something else, just really gnarly he has like a super metal head style and it trips me out. I went to his studio and he’s sitting there painting super tiny single brush hair lines listening to speed metal on his old record player and it just sick. There’s this dude David Smith that just kills it, I think he is the best gold leafing sign writing dude in the world. I had the chance to meet him and he’s super cool. My buddy Colt Bowden from orange county, he’s a gnarly dude and he gets down. Gary Martin, Larry white (Laughs) sorry dude you’re gonna have a lot of names. Going back to one of my favorite artist, Rembrandt is my favorite painter of all time. Then there is Matthias Grünewald. His stuff is nuts because it’s what I envision paintings to look like and he already did it in the late 1400’s. I think I come up with these crazy ideas but he’s already done it and perfected it. Then there’s Auguste Rodin he’s a great sculptor. Then there’s dudes I don’t even know their names but like the early California landscape painters. Of course I can name all the top name dude’s cause I really like them like John Singer Sargent, Salvador Dali. There’s just a lot of people that have influenced me in all that I do.
OD: Whats been your favorite installation so far at the gallery?
JB: That ones hard because I can’t pick just one because there all dope. The show we have running right now by Abraham Menor is sick. Just all the stuff, like traveling around the world and sharing that with us, sharing his history and his moments in his life with us is so dope. Then we just had the sign painters show Icy Caps which was amazing. We had 90 artists from around the world and they killed it. Then the Jermey Swype show who is another amazing tattoo and graffiti artist, his show was rad. Even the grand opening group show with 35 of our friends that have helped us through the years. We were able to showcase them and their art and that one was really good. Those were the bigger ones that we have had but every show we have here is fun.
OD: Whats your dream project?
JB: I would love to travel the world and paint murals in churches, and get back to that old school kinda feel. I want to do that but paint them my way because I have my own take and its a little unconventional. I think that would be the coolest thing to do. But I’m pretty much living the dream right now, I get to wake up and come to work and paint every day and I’m blessed that I can do that.
OD: Is it about the money sometimes, or all the time?
JB: We need money to survive and I hate to say that its not about the money but it is. For the past year and a half I’ve been hungry ya know, the struggle is real. But its not just about the money, If you really break it down, if my art can affect that one persons life like then i feel that my purpose here on earth was worth it. It’s not about me, it’s about affecting my community which affects the state the country and the world on a larger scale
OD: So even if you had to eat peanut butter jelly sandwiches for a month because of that you’d be cool?
JB: I’ve been (laughs) I don’t make much money doing this but we have had this shop for a year and a half now and there hasn’t been one day where I’ve woken up and have not wanted to come into work and I feel that’s true success. I think the perfect world would be where everybody could do what they love. The world would still work because some people dig accounting, plumbing, construction and some people dig painting. And if everybody went after their dream and did it then it would be the perfect world. But that’s a super American way of thinking and it would never happen (laughs)
OD: What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
JB: I asked Sean Barton who has been painting signs for a long time, what advice he could give me about sign painting. He was smoking a cigarette and he looks over at me and says “It’s not all it’s cracked up to be” and then turns back. I’m like alright that wasn’t that cool (laughs). But once I thought about it, he’s right and it made perfect sense about the sign game. Another one I got that was amazing was from my boy jessico. I was working on some business cards for myself and I was trying to get the letters to wrap around the earth and I told him “jessico I don’t think I can pull this off” He was painting and turned to me and said “John, were in America, we put a man on the moon, anything’s possible” And I started cracking up and that one really stuck with me because we have access to everything here and we can do anything, it just takes hard work.
OD: Whats your goal?
JB: I mean my goal is what most people’s goals is, To make more money and not work as hard (laughs). I know were getting back to the money thing but it would be nice ya know. I’m involved with 3 different ventures right now and its tough because I want to see all of them grow, their pretty much babies right now and I’m trying to nurture them. It takes a big toll on my relationships, my body for how much I’ve been working, and time with people. I’ve had to sacrifice things I like to do as hobbies because I’m doing this, but it’s not really a loss because i love what I’m doing . I could get a regular 9-5 and have this as a hobby but I’m doing what I love to do for a living and its fun.
OD: Can you talk a little more on your 3 businesses your involved in?
JB: Well the one that’s really important right now and that I’m pushing the most is The Cannery. My partner and I run the gallery, do murals, design work, signs and commission work and we work together to get that done. Then I have Sharper Than Any which i started about 4 years ago. This is a clothing company and artwork related to my lifestyle, a real chill bible based company which I really dig. I haven’t had the money to fund it lately so I’m taking a break from that till I get more comfortable and then I’m going to throw a lot into it. And the last one is John B Signs which I just started. That’s all the sign painting stuff that I’m trying to push and put a lot of hard work into. These are taking all my time and energy but I wouldn’t have it any other way.These three are my children that I’m raising right now and we will see what happens. I hope I can feed them all (laughs)
You can contact John at email@example.com for all your painting and sign needs “The Cannery” gallery is located at 401 E. Taylor Street San Jose, Ca 95122 Suite #165. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @sharperthanany And if you need help moving furniture or if your cat gets stuck in a tree contact him directly at (408) jon-helps.