My name is Phillip Johnson and I am a working artist, designer and actor in the Portland Metro area. I currently host and co-produce the Radical Listening Podcast with Coho Productions, act as Technical Director and company member for Confrontation Theater, and manage the Ridgefield Washington Performing Art Center. I am a multidisciplinary artist who likes to express in visual, audio and digital formats.
My 20 year journey in theater began in the art education programs of Akron Ohio. Since then I have spent most of my life studying and mastering multiple elements of the entertainment industry including Acting (BFA) and Production Design (MA). I currently work in Portland as a theatrical sound designer, actor, and collaborator. I have been blessed to co direct amazing shows like “Evolve” with Red Door project and act on TV (Grimm) and in dream roles like Amiri Baraka’s “The Dutchman”. Mostly I work as a designer, and used design as a method of not only bringing people together but to raise social awareness. As a designer, my process usually begins with music. I love compiling playlists that bring me into the world, but also let me connect to the play long after the play is over. I publish my most recent playlists on this site so feel free to explore the soundtracks to my recent shows even if you haven’t seen them. Some of my favorite designs have been Redwood, Miss Bennet Christmas at Pemberley (Portland Center Stage) Everybody, The Humans, An Octoroon, Doll house pt. 2 (Artist Repertory Theater) Jump, Sibling Rivalry, Every 28 hours (Confrontation Theatre), Cop Out, Hands up (Red Door Project) Twilight Los Angeles, Elliot a Soldier’s Fugue (Profile Theater), Worst than Tigers (Seattle) and Watsonville, Lydia (Milagro). I have also done Several Sound and light Installation pieces including my Portland artist debut, “Electric Hell”, for the Cascade High grand opening and “Free” at the opening of An Octoroon which is available to View on Youtube
I consider myself an Afro-Futurist and surrealist who focuses on the realities of the human condition especially as it relates to myself as an African American. My first series “Visual Poetry” focused on technology and its effects on human expression. I wanted to develop a multi layered way of communicating ideas through image, color and form that could be both highly intellectual and visceral at the same time. I highly regard artists like Banksy, Jean Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol who I believe are the pioneers of the type of layered social critique I try to emulate.
The purpose of the student-like drawings in the “Offensive Images” collection is to show that no matter how much we as mature adults can debate and pontificate the reality of the Black citizen’s experience in America, there is a truth behind this conversation, so evident even a child can see it. These expressive drawings represent the reality that people of color in America face everyday. When I was working as an Elementary school art teacher several years ago, I was inspired by the immediacy of the children’s focus on storytelling, trading detailed execution for fast-paced creation. The students’ drawings simply tell it how it is, be it an unanticipated expression about home life, circumstance surrounding their future, or fantasies previewed from their boundless imaginations. When I contemplate my experience as an American Black man, seeing the lethargic way the American media reports on black injustice, I can’t help but wonder about the way our children are impacted. The exaggerated features and skin color palettes showcase the universe of how people of color are profiled based on unimaginably hyperbolic stereotypes depicted throughout American history. The purpose of this collection is to show that no matter how much we as mature adults can debate and pontificate the reality of the American Black citizen, there is a truth behind this conversation, so evident even a child can see it.
Since creating these two collections I have been experimenting with form and shape. The Heritage Collection is all about representation. In this collection the futuristic characters use minimalism and deconstruction techniques combining Piet Mondrian’s abstraction technique and African tribal characters that swirl into a deconstructed landscape of primary colors shapes and lines. Through the angles and shapes a rhythm is formed which brings a liveliness to the otherwise basic characterization. That essence is represents the personality of each depiction. The Heritage Collection was created to honor my immediate family members and preserve their spirits much as ancient Tribal paintings preserve the spirits of their counterparts. I plan to continue to explore in the visual medium as a way of chronicling my experience and perspective to share with the world. If you like my art I have made several prints available through my distributor. If you would like a print that is not in the shop, feel free to reach out and I will print a special order.
Virtual Sonic Reality started five years ago as a concept art project that has since grown into a business the specializes in recording and design using three-dimensional landscapes as a method of creating virtual reality. Every “Virtual Sonic Reality” is carefully constructed to tell a particular story. My hope is to continue to create with the use of sound to construct 3D worlds that can be used for games, apps, and podcasts.