Proudly blue collar and filled with a Texas-sized sense of creativity, Richardson-based artist Jon Flaming has long used his imagination and inspirations to bring his unique brand of design and art to the fine folk of Texas.
“My neighbor next door had this big coffee table with the Old Masters on it. As a kid, at five or six years old, I was mesmerized. Something in there was triggered in me,” Jon says.
With an upbringing influenced by his grandparents’ Kansas ranch and the small Texas towns where he grew up, Jon has had a spark of artistic drive that seemingly stayed by his side all his life. Jon recalls as a high schooler, driving “hundreds of miles out of town to just explore.” After 25 years of design and branding work for clients like Neiman Marcus, Sony, HP, FedEx and more, Jon now works for himself in his home studio creating fine art.
And fine art it is. Luxuriously large, Jon’s painted canvases are big, as big as Texas, it seems. “The state I love is big. Everything in Texas is big – bigger than life. What I am doing with my art, it’s reflecting the state, and the state of mind of Texas,” Jon explains.
It’s apparent he doesn’t have claustrophobia, as his studio has lost half of its square footage to an ever-growing expanse of pine and stretched canvas. The intentionally cluttered space evokes a warm feeling of Hill Country comfort. Thick glass bottles, denim textures, a Navajo blanket, piles of papers and various art supplies fill the room. Jon clarifies his style as he steps past easel stands and paint thinner cans: “There’s a difference between a collector and a hoarder. I collect things; things that have cool color, texture, typography; things that are Western. Things kept away in drawers don’t inspire me.”
With Jon continuing down a lifelong path in the world of art, it’s astonishing that at age 56, he has yet to run out of ideas. When asked what keeps the creative juices flowing, Jon answers quickly. “I’m always looking at other forms of inspiration – music, museum trips. Currently it’s podcasts,” adding, “There is always a gem, a jewel, a nugget that pushes me a little further down the road.” While Jon’s collection of stuff may seem chaotic, it must certainly keep conjuring up new thoughts and ideas. As he says, “Inspiration exists, but it must find you working.”
And Jon has seemingly not stopped working since that first burst of inspiration at five years old. His latest series, Modern Cowboy, evokes bold emotions with seemingly simple graphics. Hints of Cubism and Picasso-esque nods can be seen within his work, merging with the forms of a rough and tumble Texas cowboy lifestyle. It’s enough to conjure up visions of 10-gallon hats and Big Tex.
“The State Fair is our family’s big deal,” Jon establishes. “We were there in 2012 when [Big Tex] burned down.” Jon has always had a soft spot for the gentle giant, and while everyone experiences grief, Jon decided to remember the 52-foot icon by creating a seven-foot-tall wooden effigy in Big Tex’s image that he plans on burning at a friend’s ranch.
“People say, ‘That’s cold,’ but it’s the opposite to me. It’s more about commemorating the day.” While Jon doesn’t particularly like the new Big Tex design, he at least can honor the original, bow-legged denim cowboy by hanging out with friends and setting the wooden likeness ablaze.
It’s people like Jon Flaming that act as anchors to our cultural history. While he certainly hosts a very creative mind, Jon’s work ethic and grit has been the key component to his life’s direction. “Too many people quit,” Jon says. “They give up, but ‘the idea’ is on the next sketchpad. Shotgun ideas. Good, bad, wait and sleep on it. Come back to it.” Jon gives a piece of advice as to the point as his artwork: “Just start.”
Jon’s Modern Cowboy series will exhibit at David Dike Fine Art Gallery in Dallas on May 2 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. His artwork can be purchased online.
Jon recently partnered with the brand of John Wayne for an art-driven apparel collection that pays homage to the iconic movie actor. Shop the collection online.Jon Flaming > Jon Flaming Collection >