The interviews are conducted by VB Contemporary's director, Vian Borchert. Besides being a multidisciplinary noted international artist. Borchert has been a writer and art critic for over a decade contributing with art articles in a national online newspaper. Borchert gets called upon to cover and write reviews for major retrospectives and exhibitions in world-class American museums.

Johnny Otto
About the artist: Johnny Otto is a contemporary Artist and Publisher/Found of Art Squat Magazine based in Los Angeles. Often compared to Basquiat, Haring and Picasso, Otto’s work is influenced by African Art. Otto's work spans more than 35 years and includes shows with David Hockney (Divine Design Fundraiser Auction), Compound Contemporary (Risk, WRDSMTH, Plastic Jesus, Shepard Fairey), Crystal Head Vodka Finalist at the Magic Castle, 01 Gallery, Headquarters, Jeff Hamilton's Street Art Fair, Radiant Space, Ministry Gallery, Art Squat, Project Angel Food Auction, Novian/Miller Space and others. He has been featured in numerous publications including Art Reveal Magazine, Paint the Streets Podcast, Artillery, LAWeekly, VoyageLA, and Left Bank Magazine.
Tell us about your "Beginnings", how did you start your artist/photographer journey? When did you know that you wanted to become a photographer? How did your childhood influence your creative career path?  From a very early age my father encouraged me to explore and be creative. He bought me and my brother a Bell & Howell Super 8mm camera and that began my filmmaking journey. I was probably around 10 years old. We'd make short films with the neighborhood kids and then charge a dime to come to the screening in our basement. My father also had many books on art and history that I would look through and be inspired by. I remember books about Dali, and Picasso, but also books about WWII, Nature and Science books. Around the same time period, he would take me to see epic movies, but I didn't really grasp how important they were until I saw them again years later...Movies like Bridge on the River Kwai, Ghandi and Passage to India. My father loved movies. He wanted to be an actor, but fell in love and got married, became a doctor and had six kids, instead. I always felt that I wanted to do what he never did, which was make movies and be creative. My eyes really opened when he took me to the Detroit Institute of Arts and I saw African Art for the first time. Not paintings, but wood masks and sculptures. I had never seen anything like them in any of my father's art books and was intrigued. I started doodling in class when I was bored and those doodles eventually became paintings. I never thought of becoming an artist as a career, I was just drawn to the discipline of creating. I felt that it was something I had to do. Something in my nature.
Credit: Johnny Otto
Walk us through your day and creative process? What does a day for "Johnny Otto" look like? Where do you find inspiration in the area by which you reside? I think of the creative process as being a job just like any other job. Clock in and clock out. Put in the hours needed to finish something. Don't procrastinate. Do the work. I work late so I am not an early riser but once I am up, I just jump into work mode. I know that I have limited time on this earth and I don't want to waste any of it. My days, if not spent painting, are spent writing or planning events. I am planning several shows which I will curate later this year with some artist friends of mine. I am also always on the lookout for new artists to feature in my magazine, so I am checking IG for those. I am also spending my days, recently, renovating my townhouse so that it has a better feel and flow. I've gotten rid of a lot of old, useless things and I am making room for the new. I like to spend time meditating and walking. I try to walk 10 miles or so a day. It really helps me think and clear my mind. Most of my inspiration comes from just observing the world and not taking anything for granted. I like to really look at the streets as I walk. I like to listen to the noises that the city makes. Every year I like to do something I've never done before. That could be doing a new kind of art project that is radically different from what I've done in the past or it could be doing something like designing a game for Iphones, which I spent a summer doing. When I am bored and don't want to paint, I just launch an animation company lol, which I did in 2020. There is no shortage of things I want to do. The important thing is to do them for myself and if the world likes what I do then that is great, but I am really trying to make myself happy not everyone else. If you do it to make yourself happy then I feel that you'll do a lot more.
As a visual artist, what have been some of the biggest challenges you've faced in your career? And, what have been your best achievements for you personally and professionally? The biggest challenge has always been to convince people that my art is worth buying and having. I always get people praising my work or saying they like it or whatever, but making a living as an artist has been a challenge, which is why I started "Buy Art Save A Crazy Person". That's my statement on the current affair of things. Artists need Patrons. I read about how Dali was struggling to sell his art until a wealthy doctor became his Patron and started collecting his work. It really does just take one or two people to value your work the same way that you do, but it starts with you. The artist has to place extreme value on their work. As much as I need to make a living at this, I am not selling myself short. My biggest achievements probably were showing my work at auction with David Hockney when I was 27 years old, optioning a screenplay to Joel Silver around that same time, making films and getting them in festivals, starting my magazine and showing my art with some legendary artists like Risk, WRDSMTH, Plastic Jesus, and others. Personal achievements are professional achievements, if you're a crazy artist. That's all I have. I'm not married. I have no kids. My paintings are my children. My art is my life.
Instagram: @ottophobia Website: