“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” — Pablo Picasso

Luckily, Terrill Kevyn Johnson did, for you only need to spend a little time on his Instagram or Facebook pages to know there is nothing else he could have been…except maybe a clown… another talent he’ll be sharing with us later this summer (…pencil Aug. 7 on your calendar and stay tuned).

Terrill’s art is currently on display in the children’s wing as part of ART@EPL, our partnership with the Lehigh Art Alliance and Lehigh Valley Arts Council. Stop in to see his paintings up close and learn more about him and his work…

When did you know you were an artist?
I started painting when I was three (see below). Art was the exploration of color and design and as a child I was exposed to it because my father is a jazz musician and an artist, so it was always around me growing up.

When did you decide to pursue it professionally? Tell us about your training.
I decided to pursue art as a career when I realized that I had a talent for it at a very young age. People were always asking me, ‘How did you do that?’… so I decided as a young man to pursue what I was good at.

I have an art degree from Hussian College. I studied illustration and design, so I’m a children’s book illustrator by profession, but I enjoy doing fine art as well.

What’s been your biggest challenge, and how did you overcome it?
The hardest challenge is always being true to myself as an artist, but I pursue that by always exploring new ways of expressing myself.

What achievements are you most proud of?
I’m most proud to have an opportunity to share my gifts with others — whether it be through clowning or through painting and doing demonstrations.

I’m also proud to be one of the artists chosen to paint portraits for Philadelphia Legacies — both of people who have passed and people who are still living. This is my fourth year doing portrait paintings of prolific Philadelphians.

What’s your advice for anyone who wants to explore art, but can’t seem to find the time or feels intimidated by a blank canvas?
My advice to anyone who’s intimidated about creating art is to just make the first move. Just express yourself — make a mark on a canvas, cut some paper, glue it and make a collage — express yourself and find yourself. Listening to music is always a great way to relax and get into that creative zone.

Anything else you’d like to add?
Be fearless. Be open. Love, laugh and pursue your dreams.

[You can view more of Terrill Kevyn Johnson’s work on Facebook, Instagram, and his website.]

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ART@EPL is the library’s exciting partnership with the Lehigh Art Alliance and the Lehigh Valley Arts Council. The series is funded through a grant from PA Partners in the Arts, making it possible for area residents to enjoy free art lectures, exhibits, and workshops from local artists working in pastels, charcoal, sculpture, and watercolor among others.