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by Sarah Seamark (excerpted from an article that appeared in the December 2005 issue of Art World News.

Ever since he can remember, John Alvin has used his art as a form of communication - a means of reaching out. Born in 1948 in the less wealthy section of Hyannis, MA, the youngest of two children and son of an army officer, John rarely lived in one place for more than a year or so. For five years, between the ages of five and ten, the family lived in Germany, and then moved back to the U.S. to Colorado Springs. “I have always been artistic, and that ability helped me integrate into new groups in new schools,” he recalls.

John Alvin
“I could draw cool cars, tanks, and army men, and that helped me quite a bit in readjusting.”

His father’s last assignment was Monterey, CA where John completed junior high and high school. He wanted to study medicine, and went to the University of California at Santa Cruz. "Everyone told me I should be a professional artist, so I tried to do something different," he laughs. After three weeks of chemistry he knew they were right and he switched to junior college to gain sufficient credits for acceptance at the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles.

John studied ad design and was groomed for life as a commercial artist. “I have always been fascinated by drawing – it came naturally to me. I remember back in first grade drawing a house. Mine was in perspective and the other children’s were not. The teacher asked me how I did that, and I said, ‘Because that is how it looks.’”

Similarly, at college his talent was recognized - a life drawing teacher said John should be an illustrator.

"Narnia" ----------20 x 16
He changed his major accordingly and, as such, acquired the skills to address both sides of the business, those who create imagery and those who hire people to create imagery.

After graduation, many of John’s contemporaries went to New York to do editorial illustration. "I was intimidated by that and thought I could somehow make a living in L.A.—and that turned out to be the entertainment business." He took a job in animation for Hanna-Barbera, working on Fred Flintstone. There he met his future wife, Andrea, a fine arts painter who was also working in animation at the time.

“It was a fabulous experience getting a paycheck for making imagery,” he says. “And while we were doing that we were setting up what I hoped would be a good freelance career.” John had always been attracted to the movies. “I knew there had to be a way to contribute to the magic.” That turned out to be creating poster images of his interpretation of a movie, and that is what he has been doing for the last 30 years.

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