An image of a sculpture of a printing plotter, by artist Kiel Johnson, created for Adobe MAX






1. Describe yourself and your work.

I have a hard time being idle. I’m a drawer. I’m a maker. I’m fascinated by the processing and execution of projects. I spend much of my time coming up with excuses to stay inside the shop and explore my world. I create problems. I solve problems. I look around and wonder. I’m stubborn, industrious, and usually on time. I’m also a huge fan of dreaming, hoping, and walkin’ around.

My work is a chronicle of my life and my journey to this point. I feel that I’m building a three-dimensional diary. I act as a seismograph, recording my adventures, emotions, and memories through visual means. I’m telling tall tales with pictures, objects, and videos. I’m spinning yarns in a visual language and I’m working on my vocabulary.


2. How did you get started?

I feel like I’ve always been started. Drawing started when I was young and honestly has never stopped. I had a super supportive family growing up, and the urge to make stuff was nourished. I remember having a serious discussion with myself about pursuing a life in the arts when I was a teenager. Kinda just kept going and have not looked back. So far, so good.


3. What piece of work best represents you and why?

The works I’m most proud of involve the biggest engineering challenges, I think. Atmospheric Conditions, which is basically a 22-foot-long all-wooden conveyor-belt system, was my biggest mechanical challenge. The Plotter, which I built for you guys, also presented a healthy set of hurdles to overcome. We were giving life to a bunch of pipes and plywood through stop motion animation. So The Plotter had to make all the mechanical movements it would make if it really worked. We just didn’t have it hooked up to motors.

Conceptually, one of my more successful works might be Publish or Perish. It is also a good example of sculpture and drawing melded together in the same work. The web press has a 100-foot drawing woven throughout the roller mechanisms and ends up appearing as if it was being printed by the sculpture. The drawing it prints out is a cataloging of everything I own.



4. What are you into currently?

Airstreams, vintage airplanes, and Alaska. 


5. What are three things youve learned that young creatives should know?

1. Get busy. The work doesn’t make itself, and the inspiration for the second piece always comes while you’re working on the first piece. You must get busy doing whatever it is that you do and do a lot of it.

2. Don’t censor yourself too much. Make the things you want to make, and figure out why later. It’s not all going to be good, but the more shit you do, the more you increase your odds of making something special.

3. Collaborate and maintain enthusiasm. Some of my best projects could only have happened with the hard work and creative ideas of others. I’m fortunate to have an ultra-talented group of pals. When we enthusiastically work together to make something creative happen, it happens. I love that. Surround yourself with doers and follow through.


5¼. Favorite color? Squash blossom.

5½. Favorite website? Not sure it qualifies as a website, but I spend most of my computer time looking at Google Images. I enjoy reading, but I love the pictures.

5¾. Pet peeve? Wasting time, line cutters, and meetings that could be emails.


Adobe recently invited Kiel Johnson to reimagine the logo for Adobe MAX. See his work and read about his process in this post on the Adobe Creative Cloud blog.

September 2, 2015

Original Artwork: Kiel Johnson

Photography: Theo Jemison