The third born son of William R and Emily Willis. He currently resides in Northwest Florida with his wife of 30 years, Sherri. He enjoyed a fantastic childhood with excellent parents and six brothers and sisters who encouraged him to become the artist he is today. While in High School, he was accepted into the Gifted Arts Program where he first picked up an airbrush. After graduation, he joined the US Navy and served for over four years as a Signalman on board the Amphibious Assault Ship USS Saginaw (LST-1188) He served two tours in Beirut Lebanon and was honorably discharged in 1985. He and his wife settled in their hometown, Crestview, but had no idea what they were going to do for a living so, like many others, went from job to job. He briefly served his community as a Law Enforcement Officer before landing a job with a local government contractor as a Security Officer where he spent many lonely hours at a remote site on a bombing range. He whiled away the hours by drawing and sketching. Finally his friend, Trey Peaden asked him if he’d be interested in making some extra money airbrushing at the local Wal Mart in 1987. John accepted the offer and Trey taught him the art of modern textile painting which would eventually become the mainstay of his income for the next 30 years. “I had no idea there was that much money in Airbrushing.” says John.
During the course of his Airbrush career, John met and was inspired by the best artists in the Florida panhandle including Terry Hill, Mike Tetzlaff, Jay Jaramillo, and Scott Wilson to name a few. “Terry has incredibly clean work, Mike has mad cartooning skills, Scott runs a very tight and professional business (Airbrush HQ in Destin) and is a fantastic artist as well, and Jay’s an old school buddy whose work I’ve admired for years. He’s a good friend as well.”
Now a thirty year professional, Veteran Airbrush Artist and owner/operator of Artic Air, he is currently working during the “Tourist Season” as an In-House Airbrush Artist at a popular beach store, Alvin’s Island, Destin, Florida.
But, John wanted more. He wanted to develop his skills as a full scale fine artist. He met Todd Faehnrich, a young Master Artist of the “classical masters’ school.” Over the next five years the two became great friends and are now contemporaries with a common goal: To become the best artists they can be while remaining true to themselves and their own art. He showed John the draughtsmanship and painting methods of the old masters. Says John about Faehnrich, “If I had one thing to say to any artist who wants to become better at his craft, I would tell them to study the masters’ works, and find a learned, patient friend like Mr. Faehnrich to guide them through the process.”
John has done work for the Destin fishing rodeo, Local commissions for murals, vehicle art, and Gordon’s Martial Arts School, His work adorns the bike helmet used for General Hudson’s (OIC of the F35 Project at Eglin AFB) retirement ceremony and many many more. John’s fantasy sci-fi work is published in books as interior illustrations as well as cover art for Mike Whitehead’s, “Cutter’s Guild Games” Gaming series. He recently designed the logo for the Semi professional football team, “Thunderbirds” and is currently accepting commissions for fine art as well as seeking illustration work for anything from Fantasy Sci-fi to Greeting card creation
John F Willis joined Pixels.com Licensing on November 8th, 2011.