7×13 | 2021 | Series 4 | John Forno

/ / Latest News, Meet the Artists 2021 7x13 Series

John Forno QLD


What was the inspiration behind the piece that is a part of the SWELL Sculpture Festival 2021?

For nearly 6 years I was on a medication that stripped me of anything creative, I was unable to think creatively as the medication blocked me. The medication made me extremely tired and lethargic which perpetuated my depression and isolation. My bed became a torture device, not somewhere where I hide from the world, not a place to feel rejuvenated and heal. As I got closer to withdrawing from that medication my inner child could speak through my creativity and help lift me above that part of my life.

Do you follow a process or plan for each new piece or do you ‘wing it’?

Mostly have a plan to create a work. Starts with a trigger, then a memory, then obsessive thinking for a few days and let it go. If the work sticks with me I begin the process of creating. I also wing it a lot as a lot of what I do is for the first time, things I have never done. Those times are extremely important as that is the self esteem side of my practice, stepping into the unknown with a leap of faith and building upon my skill.

Would you describe your artistic journey as a slow burn or a wild ride?

I’m a late bloomer to the art world. I didn’t get my degree till I was 40 and stopped making art till last year after 6 years. The seeds to create have always been there but art intimidated me and I wasn’t ready to share my stories. The last two years have been a bit of a wild ride.

Can you tell us a little bit more about how you became the artist that you are today?

Lots of readymade toys like bmx’s, skateboards, xwing fighters and Batman figures. While I did metal shop and art during high school my childhood was mainly relegated to building models and drawing planes (I wanted to be an Airforce Pilot growing up). Lego and Meccano were never in my toybox. I was always more of a player than a creator, never a creator of stories or worlds. My art practice is that part of my childhood not experienced.

Describe your ideal environment where your creative juices flow?

Music, lots of music.

Is there an artist or body of work that you would consider your muse?

Mike Kelley’s practice rings true to my own practice though he despised the concept of public art while my desire to create public art stems from my love of street and stencil art.

If you had to choose 3 words to describe your artistic style, what would they be?

Triggering, playful, honest.

Beyond SWELL 2021, is there a forthcoming project you are most excited about?

I have a group show @metroarts in Brisbane in November with Artist Boardriders Club for the Walls Artspace. A designer toy customisation exhibition @mintartspace and begun creating a series of designer toys which has been a long time goal. I’m working on a sculpture for @sculptureontheedge that I’m excited about completing.

What does exhibiting in SWELL 2021 mean to you?

I get to share my stories with the Gold Coast, the place I love. Swell is a massive forum where all sorts of stories are shared, it has brought me closer to other artist with opportunities to collaborate.

Is there anything you do to continue developing as an artist? Would you describe yourself as self-taught or formally educated in your artistic practice?

Paying attention to the world around me always helps in developing new work, imagery and sounds trigger nostalgic memories where my work is based. Some times I’ll pull out a journal article related to the current work which is generally a psychology based article. Formally trained at QCA Gold Coast.

Would you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert? Do you think this is conveyed through your work?

Introvert, I believe my current works convey exactly that.

Is there an artist that you would love to collaborate with?

Mike Kelley.

How do you structure your day?

Structure? The only time I have structure is when I have to write proposals, artist statements, this. I have to get up at 3-4 in the morning cause its the only time my head isn’t filled with incessant thought. For maybe 1/2 an hour then its like a game of Pong between my ears.

The Author

Courtney Stephens is an emerging creative event producer based in Tweed Heads. After a successful career as a Practice Manager, her passion for the creative arts industry has led her to study a Bachelor of Business in Convention and Event Management. She hopes to balance her love for the arts, culture and nature with her strengths in communication and management to create community based events.

Follow her on Instagram @courtneystephens