John Bosley of Bozz Prints

Chances are you've seen John Bosley's work whether you know it or not. His prints are sold at local gems like Domestica and each one has a particular warmth that catches your eye instantaneously. 

John recently partnered with the Iowa State Fair to create a limited edition poster and was also asked to illustrate the May/June cover of Midwest Living. The guy's obviously prolific, but he's far from over-saturating the market with his work. John's art is thoughtful and you can see the artist behind it all isn't just doing it for money - it's a passion. Our talk is after the jump.

On another blog, I read that you originally went to school for pre-med biological illustration, but ended up graduating with a degree in fine arts. How did you go from one to the other?

I'd always been interested in becoming a storyboard artist, whether for film or comic books. I was always much more interested in drawing things than studying something like accounting. Thankfully Iowa State was close by and they were known for being a great art school. It worked out well.

It wasn't too long after starting school that I realized I didn't care for science as much as I thought and I also wasn't keen to the idea of drawing cadavers and diagrams for textbooks, so I switched my major to visual studies. I was still a bit directionless at that point, but I ended up graduating with a degree in fines arts with a emphasis in drawing, painting, and printmaking

What's it like seeing your work out in the public arena?

It's surreal and humbling for me to see all of my work out there. The cover for Midwest Living was probably the most visible piece of art that I've ever done. It was super fun to work on and it was nice that the project was homegrown - with Meredith being based right here out of Des Moines.

The state fair had reached out to me about a possible donation, but I kind of counter-offered by asking if we could work together on something. Originally, it was going to be a series of prints and a series of shirts, but because of time restraints it ended up just being the one print and the Butter Cow shirt. 

Tell me about your time spent working at Raygun.

I started working at Raygun back in 2009 when it was still called Smash. If it weren't for my time there, I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing now. I learned everything from screen-printing, to maintaining an online store, and even customer service. I wouldn't trade my time there for the world.

When I left Raygun about a year ago to go out on my own, I had just reached a point where I was missing out on my own work by going to work. I felt that I needed to do my own thing and the timing just felt right. 

Was it hard to leave Raygun and go out on your own?

At first it was scary because I didn't know if the numbers would add up, but the timing felt right. My own work was keeping me busy and I didn't necessarily need that paycheck Raygun anymore. Right after leaving, I had a trade-show down in Kansas City and sales-wise that show is still the best one I've ever had. Experiencing that type of success so soon after leaving Raygun really reinforced and validated my choices.

Any recent learning experiences you care to share about?

The day after leaving Raygun, I was in my basement studio burning a screen and I dropped a huge sheet of glass on my leg. I went to the E.R. and received a total of 29 stitches. It was kind of scary, but luckily I had a lot of things going on that helped keep my mind off it. It was that week that the Register came to speak with me..

Right now, I'd say that I'm learning how to streamline my process. I'm also finding that I'm not as afraid to say "no" as I once was and that's a big change. When I was first starting out on my own, I said yes to almost everything that came my way. After the Midwest Living cover, I realized I needed to take on projects that really resonated with me and aligned with my interests. It was hard at first because sometimes I ended up leaving money on the table, but I tended to quickly come back around to focusing on the needs of my business.

As an entrepreneur, what do you think of Des Moines?

As an artist, Des Moines is very supportive! For instance, we have a booth down at the farmer's market and the people down there are really welcoming. I always get a kick out of watching people who are trying to navigate the crowds as they pass by our booth - they make a dead-stop  and come to see what we're selling. That's always cool to watch happen. 

I don't have any plans to move elsewhere, so I'd love to open a retail studio space someday. I'd love to start something here in Des Moines and then expand out-of-state, similar to what Raygun has done in Kansas City. But I like it here, Des Moines is home and I don't see myself leaving anytime soon. 

Is your work mostly done by hand or with a computer?

It's funny because even though I draw everything out by hand, it's done on a Cintiq graphics table that most professional illustrators use these days. From there I output my art to screens and print almost everything by hand, so I'd say my work is 50% digital, 50% traditional. I love that my workflow allows for a lot of variety like that.

Head on over to my Instagram feed here to enter to win the above print. All the rules and info can be found there. Thanks, John!