Patience, Uncertainty, and Dish Washing: How Jonni Cheatwood Became a Renowned Artist and Built a Business Along the Way

He dropped out of college without a clear sense of direction.

Then one day, while working in the “dish pit” at a restaurant, he received a call that Usher Raymond wanted to collaborate with him (cue the lyrics to Let It Burn).

It was a 7-year journey of financial struggles, latte-making shifts, and uncertainty that ultimately led to exhibitions across the globe – from the USA to Australia, Hong Kong, Finland, London, Berlin, Beirut, and Shanghai.

In this episode, Marcus Murphy, my co-host, and I have the privilege of interviewing Jonni Cheatwood about the business of art, the lessons he gained from more than a few mistakes along the way, and his path from college dropout to a successful full-time artist (y’all, Jonni is LEGIT – he has collaborations with businesses like Target and TedX!).

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[00:01:05] Jonni’s upbringing in a home filled with art and his early exposure to art museums.

[00:05:00] Jonni’s journey from taking art classes in high school to dedicating his whole life to art and his career.

[00:08:59] How Jonni experimented with trying different things to discover personal passions and self-understanding.

[00:11:27] How Jonni views failures as learning experiences and navigates how to find his place in the art world.

[00:16:18] Jonni’s early experiences with art and the start of his painting career.

[00:17:08] How Jonni felt when he made his first sale and realized that his artwork could be bought and sold.

[00:20:53] The role of friends and community in Jonni’s artistic journey 

[00:24:17] The power of painting in public 

[00:26:01] The process of starting a painting and the challenges of working with a blank canvas.

[00:29:15] The importance of taking breaks and gaining perspective in the creative process.

[00:34:54] How Jonni’s painting in a Tumblr competition led to Usher reaching out to collaborate on a project.

[00:39:05] The challenges Jonni faced when he moved to LA to pursue his art career and how he eventually got introduced to an artist's residency.

[00:44:49] How galleries represent and advocate for artists, and the dynamics of reaching out to galleries.

[00:47:18] The importance of persistence in the art world and the ability to say no to opportunities that don't serve the artist's goals.

[00:49:49] The importance of seeing the process of creating art and the challenges of sharing it on social media.

[00:54:06] The importance of sharing an artist's journey and experiences with the world, and the value of interviews and storytelling in the art community.

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Jonni Cheatwood

Jonni is a self-taught artist living and working in Los Angeles, California. He is known for his energetic large-scale paintings that are often characterized by their vibrant colors, bold brushstrokes and college-like compositions. He often uses found materials in his work such as scraps of fabric and photographs. Jonni's work has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in the USA, Australia, Hong Kong, Finland, London, Berlin, Beirut and Shanghai.

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