If there’s a detective in you, you will absolutely love what you are about to see. You have Jeff Lee Johnson to thank for this brilliant and fun challenge.
Jeff was raised in rural Minnesota, and he had books all around him when growing up. He read books by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Isaac Asimov, Kenneth Robeson, Arthur C. Clark, and Robert Heinlein.
He had another thing working in his favor: his mom loved to draw and paint. That means he never ran out of drawing and painting tools and materials.
Additionally, his mom could give him all the guidance he needed to bring his imaginations to life.
These days, Jeff spends his time on personal projects when he is not directing art for Fantasy Flight Games.
Interestingly, he still loves the chance to come up with scary images, and he uses characters that love their jobs, which he insists makes them worth our admiration and sympathy.
To this artist, every minor detail is essential. There are so many details in each of his pieces that you can’t help but keep searching for more scary Easter eggs.
It always appears that there is something you missed the last time you took a look at one of his artworks. Here we go:
Blue Plate Special
Jeff has a website where he posts artworks. He has gone to the trouble of arranging the works based on the theme, with his main focus being horror, fantasy, and sci-fi.
His mother influenced him to explore these themes as she was, according to Jeff, “an avid reader of science fiction, fantasy, and horror.” She was also willing to share her collection with Jeff.
He revealed that he grew up five miles from town in a small farming community that provided him with all the time he needed to figure out his feelings about these genres.
At home, they had three channels, and they continuously played classic movies. Jeff split his time between the books and classic TV shows.
Therefore, he got the chance to understand various personalities and situations, which is why he can effortlessly switch from one genre to another while creating his art pieces.
He also appreciates the importance of having various perspectives through his interaction with multiple genres. This versatility gives him the “fresh eyes” he needs when coming up with a new painting, which is very important for his career.
The trick to being successful, he revealed, is to see his paintings as if for the first time. This allows him to determine how effectively he is telling his story.
According to Jeff, jumping from one genre to the next is a great way to “wipe” his mind of a particular way of thinking and help him embrace another perspective. As a result, he can go back to the previous painting with ‘fresh eyes’ to see how he told his story.
Jeff calls this back and forth a “mental palate cleanser.”
Under The Boardwalk
Jeff’s paintings result from his admiration for H.P. Lovecraft and his well-known love for travel.
According to Lovecraft, the world was “uncaring, possibly even malevolent at its core.” Jeff explained that Lovecraft felt that humanity was always crossing paths with all kinds of awful things.
Jeff, however, does not subscribe to this school of thought, as he tends to see the world in a more positive light. As far as he is concerned, caring and joy are just as natural as misery and even a little more popular.
While growing up, Jeff was a little isolated, and he “yearned to see the world” he often learned about in his mom’s books and the old movies he watched on TV late at night. As he explored this literature, he took it all in, grew to love the settings, and often shared the feelings of the characters living in these universes.
To this day, he still wishes he could go back in time and experience what some of these periods in history had to offer. To him, some eras speak more deeply than others.
Fortunately, his current life helps him to at least go back to the worlds he loved when younger, albeit vicariously. For instance, during an assignment for Fantasy Flight Games, he had a chance to explore Lovecraft’s world interestingly.
Jeff got a chance to go back in time to the 20s and visit a railcar diner. The diner was full of the usual characters, and Jeff was an unbiased observer who gradually understood the horrors around them.
By the time he was done with that project, Jeff felt he had stumbled upon something special:
“When that painting was finished, I realized I had found a really fun thread to tug on, and began thinking of a series based on that theme.”
He revealed that each of the paintings was made from the point of view of someone who was taking their first look at a new environment.
Obviously, not every observer is impartial, which is to be expected. Some might not even be polite, but everyone involved is a fearless fan of travel and new experiences.
The Grand International Hotel
The idea behind these artistic creations was to come up with something that looked perfectly normal at first until you took a closer look. The setting might even look idyllic, but once you decide to look a little more closely, you should discover something awful and evil.
However, as Jeff explains, it is not all about gore and horror:
“There is always a bit of subtle humor alongside the horror which the universe provides to make the experience palatable.”
He revealed that the inspiration for the artworks comes from his travels, his mom’s books, and the countless classic movies he watched when he was young. Jeff believes that the artworks reflect memories of his travel, but with dark undercurrents, which is why the series goes by the name Dark Reflections.
He tries to put a lot of artistic diversity into the artworks. Each of the characters he features is undoubtedly more important than the supernatural forces in the art pieces. Nevertheless, each piece of art offers a variety of scenarios.
Jeff admits that some people are scared by the images, but most enjoy them. Apparently, there is something humorous about a monster having a good time while doing its terrible business, which Jeff believes is a character defect on his part.
When introducing the unusual pieces, he quoted something his son said: “What’s normal for the spider is horrible for the fly.”
Rue The Day
Jeff hopes that the images inspire people to be more observant because there are many layers of meaning and context wherever we go, most of which are beyond what a casual glance can reveal. He suggests that the story is often a lot richer and, at times, a lot more scary than it might seem.
The Paintings Represent Jeff’s Love For H.P. Lovecraft And His Passion For Travel
What do you think of Jeff’s incredible masterpieces? Do you find them funny or terrifying?