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self portrait



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 the hobos.  
          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 school hours.   
          After graduating 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 art.  
          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 chance!" 
          She did.  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


NOTE: The art show here is John's work for the Angelika Filmbill in New York City and the Ritz Filmbill in Philadelphia.  This art accompanied interviews with film directors or actors.

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