Joseph Donald Myers was born in Chicago Heights, Illinois during an especially wintry January day in the year of our Lord, 1976. From an absurdly young age he has been fascinated and terrified by the things that only exist in the dark corners of his subconscious.
Until recently, most of these things have been safely locked away. However, following the passing of his beloved mother in July 2008, the demons emerged, as if on cue.
I started following the artistic career of Joseph Donald Myers a few years back and, suffice to say, his work just keeps getting better with each new piece produced. JDM is a prolific artist with an extraordinary talent for turning the banal into the beautifully sublime. His work is both disturbing and yet somehow poetic as each piece tells its own story on many different levels. JDM digitally manipulates old photographs and creates vector designs and renditions which he adds to the work - building layer upon layer until a surreality is produced that combines all of the aspects to form a cohesive and illuminating whole.
Motifs proliferate; such as: death, childhood, family, horror, pain, beauty and spirituality. There is a real sense of the Gothic in JDM's work, as the eclectic selection and transformation of old sepia-toned photos from a forgotten age shows, the images are not merely chosen for their availability but rather for the dark scope they afford his wonderful imagination.
On the surface JDM, as a person, appears the 'all-American, golden boy' type. This, of course, is an obvious generalization as his incredibly complex work reflects a much deeper vein that is as much about the artist as his perception of the world around him. One can't help but recognize that his work is saturated with a profound darkness, with the horror of the mundane, the terror of urbanity, and the sheer pain of life ever-present as it rushes headfirst to its ultimate and inevitable destination: death!
Outside of his imagination, Joseph is married to an amazing woman and has three wonderful boys. Previously, he was employed as a graphic designer for a major manufacturing company but has since 'seen the light' and recently started up his own freelance Graphic Design business, JDM Creative Services, LLC. He and his family currently live in the small Wisconsin village known as Grafton.
Joseph hopes to someday die and see what all the fuss is about.
[The following images are a selection of work that he has produced over the last few years. For more links and information about Joseph please check the links at the bottom of this article. All images copyright (c) Joseph Donald Myers 2012]
A Fan Letter to Hollywood actor Campbell Scott
by Joe Myers on Friday, March 2, 2012 at 4:40pm ·
Dear Mr. Scott,
Where do I begin? First and foremost my name is Joseph Myers. I am, amongst other things, a professional graphic designer, a fine artist, a father of 3 wonderful boys, a doting husband, a could-have-been actor, and, perhaps most importantly, a non-stalker. I woke up this morning with an urge to write you a letter because, as of late, I am in the habit of satisfying any non-harmful gut urge that may pass through my mind.
Just to start the kiss-ass ball rolling, I think that your performance in "Singles" was one of the most underrated parts of that fine film, and it made an indelible impression on my 16-year old brain. You were the epitome of cool, and Steve Dunne (warts and all) was someone I could identify with and look up to. Many fond memories surround that part of my adolescence, and the autumn afternoon that I went to the local theatre to see "Singles" with a group of friends (one of whom was a German exchange student, Kati, who I happened to have a huge crush on at the time) can be recalled in all of its minutiae. The smell of Lucky Strike cigarettes. The crisp Wisconsin air. Kati's perfume ("Joop", I believe it was called). And Steve, in all of his fallible cool glory, trying his damnedest to capture the heart of one Miss Linda Powell. Everything about that movie fit perfectly into my life at the time. I'm so glad Mr. Crowe committed his creativity to film in such a beautiful way, and you were perfectly cast.
At the same time, I was waist-deep in a Stephen King obsession. A student of all things wonderfully morbid, I read all of his books multiple times, memorizing the flow of text on the pages of the paperback versions, knowing intimately the scent of the relatively cheap ink used to print those bad boys. I was never without a dogeared copy of one of Mr. King's novels, it seemed. He could do no wrong in my mind. He was able to tap into the exact vein of horror that was firmly routed through my subconscious, and his powerful imagery worked hand in hand with my blooming artistic sensibilities. But the one novel that stands out to this day as his most important work is "The Shining". Both this novel, and to a slightly lesser extent Kubrick's vision, were a consistent part of the fabric of my life. I read it for the first time at the age of 11, probably a bit too young to understand the finer points, but I certainly "got it". By the time I was 14, I had read the book at least half a dozen times. And, more importantly(?), it was around that time that I snuck my first beer from the basement fridge.
So, yada yada yada I'm now a recovering alcoholic. A good chunk of my life (1993-2010) revolved around, to a rather large extent, how to catch a buzz. Especially from booze. Things began to get out of control shortly after I was married in 2004, and came to a head (or "rock bottom") in September 2010. I have been sober for almost 15 months now and, as a result, all aspects of my life – professional, creative and family – are profoundly good in more ways than I can describe. Two very important things fell by the wayside during my Hiatus From The Real Me: the devotion to my artwork and my love for reading.
The artwork thing is back in full effect, the prolonged mental incubation coupled with much life experience having resulted in a creative rebirth that has become a driving force. The reading thing… not so much, regrettably.
That brings me to last week when I was perusing iTunes and saw the audiobook of "The Shining" (performed by you!) available for purchase. I thought it was about time to revisit the Torrance family, considering the eerie similarities that had formed between me and Jack; namely the alcoholism, an anger problem, marital issues, a creative blockage, and the struggles and joys of raising a 5-year old son who is precocious (to say the least). While no "Shine" seems to be present at the moment, there are other aspects of his personality that are uncannily similar to Danny's, too vague to put a point on at the moment, but definitely there. Bottom line, I have just crossed the halfway point of your performance, and to say that I am blown away is an understatement. Your rich tones and excellent diction (cold and objective and chilling) are a perfect match for my own "mental reading voice". And the timing couldn't be better, as many things have been falling into place since I stopped drinking (go figure!!!). Your amazing performance is the perfect soundtrack for my life at this moment in time.
So why am I pouring my heart out to you, Mr. Scott? Maybe it's because you seem like a pretty cool guy. Or perhaps I'm thinking you may be a bit more receptive to a fan letter than the Almighty Mr. King would be. Either way, I needed to write these words, and I'm hoping you will eventually read them. I have no idea what will become of my fine art "career", or if I'll even live to see tomorrow, but I do know that your voice, Mr. King's writing and my life, creative and otherwise, are woven together; a layer in the composite fabric of time space. And I couldn't be happier.
Joseph D. Myers
Joseph Donald Myers - Full Biography:
"Born to unsuspecting parents on a snowy night in late 1970s Chicago Heights.
My current body of work, which I began in early 2009, is an almost direct response to the death of my mother. Although the Number One Champion of my artwork, Mrs. Linda Myers did not, however, enjoy my more sinister sensibilities. “Why don’t you do something nice?” she’d ask on a regular basis. “Because I don’t really know how”, I’d reply. As I struggled with the idea that she was no longer physically present, I also realized that I could explore death and dying (and the beauty that surrounds it) to my heart’s content without the worry of disappointing her. Sounds strange, especially since my mom was/is The Most Amazing Mother a son could have asked for and her loss is a void that will never truly be filled. All the same, she taught me how to find silver linings in the strangest of places. The result has been close to 200 unique pieces since April of 2009.
My creative process is relatively complex, albeit one that has become deeply intuitive over the past few years. My essential goal to tap into the deep fears of my childhood as well as the fears I have developed as an adult. It all starts with a scavenger hunt of sorts. I scour the internet for images that involve, but are not limited to: death, dying, old portraits, wars, mouths and teeth, insanity, deformity, landscapes, insects that scare me (especially wasps), aggressive animals, humanity in general… the list could go on and on. I will also photograph parts of my own body or use original nature photography if there’s a certain “something” I’m attempting to capture. Then, like an improvisational chef or musician (or Dr. Frankenstein), I start assembling bits and pieces of the images that have spoken to me using Photoshop. Many times I will create separate illustrations that will fill in certain gaps or add to the overall effect. If there is any need for text in the piece I will hand draw and scan that as well. Sometimes I attempt to incorporate a theme, other times the themes emerge like long-silenced screams from the past. I want to present to the world unique images that are at once familiar and terribly alien; comforting and disturbing; beautiful and terrifying. I want to welcome you into my brightly-lit home on a pleasant Spring morning, then slam the door, turn out the lights and strap you to a chair with eyelids held open forcing you to see what lurks in the dark, mad corners of the universe.
Or something like that."
Find Joseph and his amazing work at the following links:
SURREAL GROTESQUE (online magazine)
Buy JDM prints here.