His image arrived via a text message from artCentral’s Membership Chairperson and my good friend, Bev Sturgis. Having retired from a successful career fulfilling her dream to be an aerospace engineer, Bev now plies her talents as a master-gardening-heirloom-seed-saving-master-naturalist-in-training, so no surprise she is drawn to artful images that echo the powers of the plant world.
The dashing character whose colorfully rendered picture Bev shared appears in a full suit of armor and drawing a sword as though dressed and ready to do battle! His demeanor is quite charming and a bit menacing, hyper-energized and downright funny. At first encounter I dubbed him “The Veggie Knight”.
“Who did this?” I asked Bev. “John Hendrix!” came her reply. I googled this master of imagination to learn the title of his flamboyant knight is “Fruits and Vegetables Are Trying to Kill You”. John Hendrix’s website tells the story of his impressive artistic career and his success at https://www.johnhendrix.com/about:
“John Hendrix is a New York Times bestselling illustrator and author of many children’s books…including Drawing is Magic…His illustrations have appeared on book jackets, newspapers and magazines all over the country. John is a Professor of Art, teaching illustration at the Sam Fox School of Art and Design at Washington University in St. Louis.
John’s work has appeared in numerous publications, such as Newsweek, Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, Esquire, The New York Times, Time Magazine and National Geographic among many others. His images also appeared in advertising campaigns for ESPN/ABC, AT&T, and Target/Star Wars.
John lives in St. Louis with his wife Andrea, son Jack and daughter Annie, dog Pepper and cats Kit-Kat and Luna.
John tells us: 'I have been drawing since I was very young, but my first commissioned illustration was in 2001 for the Village Voice. Soon after, I did my first illustration for the New York Times, probably the publication I’ve done the most for over the years. I ended up working in the building as an art director for three years while I was building my career. Generally, I think of myself as a drawer…so pen and ink are really what I love. Most of my colors are done in fluid acrylics and occasionally gouache.
I make about 70% of my income from my illustrations, selling rights and original works as well as prints. The rest comes from teaching, speaking fees and other work outside the studio, but still related to illustration.'
John has some good advice for aspiring artists: 'Remember that for the moment you don’t worry about the…question: How will I make a living? Put that out of your mind. What is important right now is to do the stuff that you love doing. If you follow your desire (and desire trumps talent any day of the week) then making a living will come naturally. Push yourself to try new things and most importantly, KEEP A SKETCHBOOK AND DRAW EVERY DAY! Don’t forget to have fun…and travel as much as you can.”
Besides veggies John Hendrix has mastered illustrating an incredibly wide and varied range of images and interests. This gifted drawer seems to be able to draw any and every thing! Be inspired and amazed! Check out more of his fascinating art on his website and by searching “John Hendrix Illustrations” on the web.
You will be happy for any time you spend in the company of this illustrator of the “Veggie Knight”—a native son who found east coast artistic success and has returned to Missouri to make his home with his family.