John Overmyer passed away suddenly on November 1st, 2014. He will be sorely missed by his fellow artists. His thousands of amazing op-ed illustrations will remain on the site and are available for downloading. His family will be managing his NewsArt business. If you have any questions please contact Mike Overmyer or Barrie Maguire.
John grew up in the city near the edge of a woods.
He would dress up
like an indian scout and go exploring in the woods.
He found beautiful
birds, arrowheads, butcher knives, and hobos living near the railroad
tracks. He built forts in the
woods and swung from vines in the trees. That was when he was six years
old. His Tarzan period? When
he was seven, he discovered he could draw. So he went to the woods and drew the birds and trees and hid from
By the time he was
ten, he was going to Saturday morning art classes at the local art museum
in Columbus, Ohio. It was four years of intensive art training. Burned
out on art, his interests turned to teenage things like smoking Lucky’s,
looking at girls, and hanging out with his adventuresome buddies who made
gas powered go-carts and listened to Buddy Holly while playing pool during
high school it was off to Ohio State University where he was soon told to
get out of Business Administration and become an artist.
So off to the Columbus College of Art and Design where he actually
excelled like never before... dean's list four years straight. Then, upon graduation during the summer of love, 1967, he shipped
off to Kansas City with wife Bonnie and young son Robbie to become
Hallmark Cards' resident psychedelic artist.
When that phase passed, he became an art director for humorous
products, then later was named design director of photography.
Photography? A fish
out of water, he asked to be transferred to Colorado and head up the
Hallmark Humor Group. Recently
divorced, he hoped Colorado would help him get back in touch with himself,
resume his love of rock climbing and be back in the woods again.
In the summer of
1987, he decided he had had enough of corporate life.
And on his 45th birthday he hopped in his Jeep and headed to
Philadelphia and the freelance life inspired by pal Barrie Maguire.
Arriving in Philly with no job, a Jeep payment, art school tuition
for sons Robbie and Mike, he did what any red blooded American artist
would do. He turned to op-ed
He had always
admired the illustrations of Brad Holland, who was probably the first
opinion page artist, his work having first appeared in the New York Times
in the early 1970's. This was
John's new goal. A chance to
do some good for the world,
paint in black and white, and
get as far from greeting cards as possible. Soon, he and Maguire met with
the Philadelphia Inquirer opinion page editor, who told him, but
you're a greeting card artist. John said, "Give me a
When the first
assignment came he instantly came up with a style that was quick and
easy to read. He found a roll
of old rice paper in his flat
files, some black paint and a big old brush.
He thought back to Saturday morning classes and art school, where
it was hammered into his head, "less is more." Simplify,
simplify, simplify! He still
repeats that to himself every day as he begins each new drawing.
Philly was a great
source of inspiration for an op-ed artist. It had everything and it had
opinions! So instead of
exploring the woods for adventure, he began exploring the streets of
Philadelphia. By foot, bicycle, subway and trolley. He hung out with
everyone from federal judges to heroin addicts.
He was mugged a few times, once at gunpoint, had his jeep stolen
and burned, was run over by a truck, was an extra in a Martin Scorcese
film, hung with Mel Gibson at the local cave, and became a father again at the age of 52. Now he was
seeing Philly in a whole new way; through the eyes of his son Sam.
But maybe he has always seen the world though the eyes of a child.
-- Scot Gordin