The topic of writing a business plan came up with Michael Johnson, the full-time artist who’s dovetailed and worked as a photographer, graphic designer, videographer, a woodworker, a deejay (DJ PupLuv), and as fine artist. “I don’t color in the lines,” Johnson said.
“It’s hard for me to define the details [of a business plan] cause I really don’t know.” It’s frustrating for the artistic polymath to project five years into the future with an idea or to weigh demographics when he doesn’t know (using deejay words) which song is going to come up in the cue.
Johnson’s studio, Concept•Seven Art Lounge at 1906 Bluffton Road, started out a work space just for him. When Fatima Washington came through to see the space, it was pretty bare bones by then, she wanted to have her birthday party there. He never imagined the studio for other people but now he did.
Now, Johnson opens up the space to exhibiting artists (photographer Christy BigJohny had a show there) and photographers who don’t have a studio and need something to shoot. “I know how it feels to do a photoshoot in your living room,” Johnson said.
Andrea Dortch came through and wanted to do a painting party. The idea was great enough for Johnson to start welcoming more and other same kind of parties. “They caught visions off my vision, like someone told me,” Johnson said. “This was my little vision. But I could have never predicated this.”
Johnson doesn’t plan, he adapts. “This is my theory. When you have a hustle or a passion, jump into it doing it and let the business plan form itself,” Johnson said, “then maybe [after] two or three years, write one depending your actions, to where I can give a better idea for projections.” Business plans don’t (initially) work for everybody. “I wish they said that more,” he said.
Concept•Seven is by appointment during the week; Johnson is usually holed up, with door locked, doing his own work. Back before having a studio, he would store his original fine art pieces wherever he could, but they would sometimes get damaged during transport.
The space has come a long way visually since he first got the keys. Johnson, the woodworker, built movable gallery posts to hang art himself...those related skillsets are put to use. He doesn’t really market himself as a graphic designer, or even a photographer, anymore; he does more of that stuff for himself, in house, to promote his own stuff. He doesn’t outsource those jobs because of the way he works. Spontaneously. “It can be 2 a.m., I get an idea and just start working.”
Johnson, the fine artist, started off drawing cartoons then moved to doing portraits in high school. Merging both forms, he got into caricature work. If you’ve seen some of his sweeping Jazz pieces, you can see some of that caricature style. What he was doing in high school, merging those related fields, was a glimpse of how the rest of his art life played out.
Inspired by hip-hop labels FUBU and Cross Colours, he attended American College for Applied Arts in Atlanta for fashion design. But when he got there, it wasn’t his thing. “I didn’t want to sew, didn’t want to do pattern work,” he said. “I just wanted to draw.” More of the same when he transferred to Clark University.
Johnson left school and “wandered around a bit,” back here. But a dude like Johnson wasn’t in the wilderness. He was putting on his own fashion shows, talent shows, and other shows.
Michael Johnson - Concept•Seven Art Lounge
1906 Bluffton Road
Fort Wayne, IN 46807
Facebook: Concept•Seven Art Lounge
I run Scrambled Egg(s) Design and Productions, based out of Northeast Indiana. In addition to producing in-house company projects, I also create advertising materials for companies and organizations, with an emphasis on interactivity.