A native Floridian, Randy Johnson studied printmaking, painting, and photography at Florida State University.
In the late 1970s, Johnson worked as an illustrator for the Florida Department of Natural Resources, where he created the graphics for the original “Save the Manatee” program. He learned his black and white photography darkroom techniques from the department’s photographer, Bob Murphy, who had apprenticed with Irving Penn in New York. Johnson then became the editor of GEOJOURNEY, the state’s natural resources magazine, before moving to California in 1982.
In the 1980s, he designed Red Tail Ale and other birds-of-prey beer labels for the Mendocino Brewing Company, the first brewpub in California since Prohibition. In the late 1980s and into the 1990s, Johnson’s business, SCENE 1, specialized in wildlife T-shirt designs, first in California, then in New Mexico, Virginia, and Oregon. He sold his “Pocket Creatures” designs to museums, Disney Attractions, The Nature Company, Rainforest Action Network, and the Jane Goodall Institute. In Oregon, he also illustrated the book, The Gift of Birds: True Encounters with Avian Spirits.
In the early 2000s, the artist returned to making nature-influenced abstract paintings—which he describes as images of directed chaos—and had a series of one-person exhibitions in Oregon, including at the Grants Pass Museum of Art.
In 2011, Johnson started working with automotive artist Randy Grubb, who built Jay Leno’s Tank Car, photographing and making videos of Grubb’s builds. This years-long collaboration culminated in Johnson’s book, From Mind to Metal, in 2016.
Johnson returned to Florida in 2017 and has since immersed himself in natural world photography and in making brilliant photo illustrations of the lifeforms and landscapes of the Florida peninsula. His love of nature is the thread that runs through all of his work.
He has published two books of photography: Natural Florida (2019) and The Colors of Florida (2020), and is working on a third, Animate Florida, about the direct experience and restorative value of being in nature.
Here, Randy Johnson presents the complete catalog of his work as an illustrator, painter, photographer, and writer.