CeCe rocking Coleman's design on the Sawyer "Lake Blanche Tee"
Employing art to instill a spirit of adventure
Sawyer was founded with a mission to get more kids playing in the outdoors. Each person involved with Sawyer has a real and powerful connection with nature. We all hold a special nostalgia for the influence it had on our childhoods; a time when it was normal to go play outside. That time was crucial in our development of creativity, resilience, and independence.
John D. Coleman had a blessed, very fun childhood in the outdoors for which he is grateful. When it came time to seek out artists to create designs for Sawyer’s initial launch, we reached out to Coleman. He's is an artist whose childhood connection to nature shines through his creative designs. When reminiscing about his outdoor-centric childhood he thinks back to his grandfather’s ranch in the Texas hill country near Johnson City. He sees it as the single most impactful place on his childhood and fondly recalls fishing, swimming, four-wheeling, hiking, exploring, and BB-gun shooting/hunting with his two older brothers. John’s parents encouraged all three boys to be outside as much as possible and John’s father would even create pirate themed treasure hunts for the boys on the last day of each vacation.
Gauge rocking Coleman's design on the Sawyer "Gear List Tee"
John took those nature sculpted experiences into his adult life and continues to fuel his fire with mountaineering. Of 54 Colorado 14ers (14,000' peaks), he has climbed 43 and is steadily moving toward summiting them all. He tells me, “With a hobby like that, it’s hard for nature, the outdoors, and anything tied to adventure not to make its way into my work! I like to make things that make me remember my time in the backcountry and help me scheme ways to get out there again, and I hope that helps other people, too.”
It's easy to see how our kindred spirits of adventure could easily collaborate on creating a product with the intention to inspire kids to play outside. John’s ongoing passion for mountaineering started with backpack guiding in Colorado, “Though I had a pretty adventurous childhood, it was this experience that got me hooked and I have been going back three or four times a year to backpack and climb mountains,” he says. He currently resides on the beach in Corpus Christi, Texas where he runs his art studio from home and volunteers with his wife for “Young Life,” an organization that offers friendship, adventure, fun and a sense of significance to college students.
Terje rocking Coleman's design on the Sawyer "Bronco Tee"
Making a living from art and nature takes a sheer dedication that is fueled by pure passion. It's not an easy way to fend for oneself or family. John shared his unique and powerful story of becoming a successful artist this way:
“I didn’t grow up with the encouragement that art or design was a career that was stable or was to be sought after, but I was always drawing, doodling, or making things growing up - just for fun. In college, however, I started making and selling acrylic pop-art posters of iconic musicians and that was the first time I made money doing art. After a few years working as a client manager for a small tech company in Austin, I grew weary of not using my creative skill set and passion for design so I hatched a plan to take a year off of from the corporate world and study four different realms of creativity and art that I was drawn to. I hoped that by exploring each in-depth that at least one of them would stick and I could then figure out a way to monetize it and make a career out of it. The four quarters of what I later called ‘Art Year’ were: oil painting, graphic design, animation, and environmental. I found tutors and mentors, I took classes at community college, I signed up for online video courses, and I talked to and interviewed a ton of people in the field I was interested in pursuing. It was a lot of fun and a lot of hard work. But, being an avid learner and fairly driven, it was a blast to tear through the curriculum I had created for myself. Throughout the year, people began to ask me to do artwork for them and as I said yes I was also posting my work on Instagram, and before I knew it I was an accidental business owner - and still am! To this day, I post the work online people have asked me to do and it generates more inquiries. It is now my fourth year working for myself as a full-time freelancer doing graphic design and illustration.”
We are honored to work with John and to support his pursuit in a creative outdoor life. Our intention with this collaboration is to take that mutual spirit of adventure that was instilled in us and inspire children to cultivate it as they grow.
For more of John's art check out: johncoleman.dribbble.com
Author: Cindi Lou Grant