Doug Johnson at the Wheel

Doug Johnson 1
One of Johnson’s designs for the Judas Priest album covers

Maybe you know Doug Johnson as the man that painted the famous Judas Priest album covers or the person who designed the packaging for Cosmic Candy. If neither of these projects ring a bell, then let it be known that Johnson is one of the most respected illustrators of the ‘70s.

Born and raised in Toronto, his mysterious technique and individualized graphic style helped shape his successful career. He started by doing some fashion illustration, as well as editorial work, prior to moving to New York in 1968.

Yearning to create his own method, in the ‘70s, Johnson spent much of his time perfecting his artistic approach, specifically with two assignments: A Society of Illustrators Call For Entries poster and a series of football orientated images for Sports Illustrated. His technique shifted from being literal to more improvisational. It allowed him to have more freedom with his designs.

His success started to skyrocket. Johnson had the opportunity to work with Life Magazine, Esquire, and Time Magazine. In 1974, he was hired to create an image for the theatrical production of Leonard Bernstein’s Candide in Brooklyn. Throughout the ‘80s, he continued to work with this production company, eventually becoming a partner and forming Dodger Theatrics. Here, Johnson produced Broadway and Off-Broadway shows, which included designing posters, print advertisements, and sets.

Even later in his career, Johnson remained honest in his work, refusing any repairs that could be made to past or present illustrations. His originals are perfect.

To read and see more work by Johnson, click here.

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Author: Kayla Harris for Graphis

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