The Illustration & Design World of Zach Johnsen

Works in progress, up and coming, tidbits and extras. Keep posted here for news and information before it hits my site. To catch up on old news please visit my previous blog.

FOLKLORE BACK STORYMonday, June 13, 2016
June 2nd, saw the opening of FOLKLORE at Hellion Gallery in Portland.  I thought I would share some studio snaps from the last couple months of the artwork coming together..  Anyone interested in seeing the entire collection of art or to inquire about purchasing, visit Hellion Gallery.

I'm super excited to announce my first solo show at Portland's Hellion Gallery in 3 years!

Folklore is a new exhibition of work by Portland based Zach Johnsen exploring the themes of fairy tale and myth. Borrowing from Slavic fable and campfire tales, the work talks of ghosts, the plague, witchcraft, spirits and the clash of good and evil.

Folklore is all new work by Zach in a variety of aesthetic style. In some, you will see a return to form for Zach. Many of the pieces are characters on paper in watercolor and pen and ink, a mainstay of the artists’ work. Other work sees further pushing into the realm of painting. Simultaneously dark and bright, these new paintings start with splashy chaotic acrylic pools on canvas then toned with smoke bomb and spray paint. These ephemeral backgrounds are the rough draft of the piece and inform the direction of the final work. The chaos is tamed by housing select elements from the background within figurative shapes and building up detail and value on top of those figures. The result are playful and energetic paintings of characters both sinister and joyful. The otherworldly characters, surrounded by clusters of bright color bits, swirling patterns, sticks and pixies almost seam to fizzier and crackle off the canvas. Throughout the work of Folklore, the energy is palpable with the explosive nature of Zach’s work as strong as ever.

Folklore opens Thursday, June 2nd at 6pm at Hellion Gallery in Portland, Oregon.
Sponsored by Gigantic Brewing Company


PUFFER WOODS!Sunday, February 7, 2016
I've been working on a fun new series I'm happy to share.  Combining my love of screen printing and my love of wood cutouts, I present the Puffer Wood series! They are screenprinted puffer fish on cut out wood 3/8" thick.  Each and every background was hand painted by me using acrylic and spray paint.  Each is a unique colorway and no two are the same.  To top it all off, an extremely low edition of 20 of these have been produced.. 

So to quickly step through the process of making these: The shapes were cut out using a C+C machine to ensure uniformity in sizing for the final screenprinting process.  Each shape I then fully sanded to remove any snaggles left from the cutting process. Multiple coats of primer were applied and then another round of sanding to make everything ultra smooth. Then I had fun splashing around watered down acrylic paint in multiple phases.  After that had set, I applied spray paint to really make the shapes pop.  The final step was screen printing them.. I'm very happy with then end result and I think you will be too!

Final size is roughly 14" in diameter.  All are signed and numbered on the back.  I affixed a hanger to the back of each, so the Puffers come ready for your way.. all you need is a nail. Plus, I'll be throwing in a handful of die cut puffers with each order!

I've released 10 in my shop site and an additional 10 over at
Have fun!