Digital artist John Leben’s fantastic series of amusing (and somewhat disturbing) images focus on whimsically creative solutions to the urban explosion. Learn more about this artist and his work by visiting his website.
Ever since high school (or maybe even earlier), I wanted to be an artist. I took public transportation every Saturday morning from my home on the Southwest side of Chicago to the famous Art Institute of Chicago to participate in an innovative scholarship program offered to talented students in the Chicago Public Schools. Those sessions sealed my fate.
I continued my art training, culminating in an MFA in Painting and Printmaking from the School of The Art Institute of Chicago, and embarked on an art career. But, like many artists, I got sidetracked by the need to make a living and support a growing family. In those early days, fine art took a back seat to a more lucrative occupation, media production. I was a film and video producer for many years, still utilizing my creative talents, but in a diverse range of media. I still painted and exhibited here and there, but with a lot less intensity than was needed.
Fast forward about thirty years. My two daughters were grown and on their own. We made a move to Saugatuck, Michigan (an arty resort town on the shores of Lake Michigan) and my media business was on life support. I didn’t realize it at the time, but shedding Leben Productions (my media production business) was the best thing for jump starting my fine art career. I jumped into art with a passion.
As a media producer, I once produced a film for Motorola called “Adapt or Die.” It was about the importance of adapting and growing with the changing conditions of technology and the marketplace.
What is true in the communications industry is also true in the art world. As artists we have to continue to grow and adapt to changing dynamics. I’ve built my art career with a mix of art fairs, gallery representation and online sales. My next change is to open a gallery in Douglas, Michigan called the LebenArt Gallery.
I’m a digital artist. I’ve always been fascinated by technology and its applications for fine art. I paint in my computer and use the finished digital paintings as printing plates for producing limited edition prints for sale.
My work these days has an environmental theme, using surrealistic imagery, fantasy and humor to offer (often absurd) solutions to environmental problems. This year I’ll be showing at fewer art fairs, but focusing on exhibiting my own work, and the work of other like-minded digital artists in the LebenArt Gallery. It’s an exciting time for me as I continue to “Adapt.”
I call the images in this series the “Urban Punk” Series. In these pictures, I’m having some fun with environmental issues.
I’m pretending I’m a (somewhat demented) city planner, or environmental engineer, tasked with coming up with solutions to environmental problems. Each solution is a bit absurd and offered to the viewer to both make him or her laugh, and, to make him or her think about the problems facing our environment.
Overpopulation, overcrowded and crumbling cities, air and water pollution, and endangered species are some of the topics my pictures address using surrealistic imagery, fantasy and humor.
LebenArt Gallery is at 26 Center Street in Douglas, Michigan. The official opening of the gallery is on May 6, 2017.
Artist John Leben invites you to follow him on Facebook.