About John Dollar

The Early Years

My journey started as the second child of Navy parents. Although we traveled a little, most of my memories are from living in the deep south of Georgia.  My heritage, mixed like most North Americans, is Scottish, Italian, with a dash of Native American.

I was always encouraged to be creative when growing up; illustrated storybooks, comics and movies captivated me, and inspired my imagination.  These wonderful things motivated my brothers and I to become Cowboys, Indians, Pirates, Armored Knight’s, and Space Raiders of the Back Yard.

We constructing props from anything we found. We created swords, ray guns, lances, bow & arrow! We’d create costumes! We’d become the heroes! Anything we came up with was great, because we came up with it together. Without that togetherness, I’m certain I would’ve turned into a different person than I am today.

Passion and Balance

My father, uncles and grandpa were very talented woodworking masters. Their craftsmanship inspired me. Their strict sense of pride was instilled in making something with our hands. Nurtured and encouraged by our strong women, it was–and is–considered a gift in our family to create things from nothing.

Active in the Martial Arts early on, I enjoyed the idea of finding the balance between mind, body and spirit. After a couple years in Valdosta State University, GA, I entered into the military service. I was a soldier with the Army Corps of Engineers, as an illustrator, where I continued to pursue my passions and find the balance.

Army was a wonderful experience. I produced FM manuals, safety posters, graphic design and art for army newspapers and high security briefing programs. I used both technical drafting skills and creative artistic skills while saving money to continue art school.

Skill and Mastery

A great benefit of living abroad was that it gave me the chance to see European art up close. I studied art and drafting because it’s how I “think out loud”. I have always been a visual learner.  Everything makes sense to me that way. Because I was such a visual learner, I struggled a bit throughout school.

My first book of Leonardo da Vinci had a profound effect on my identity. The Italian Renaissance master reflected both the importance of draftsmanship with pure creative genius. I’m still completely inspired by his works today. Other artists that are notably on the top of my favorites list include Andrew Loomis, Arthur Rackham, Ruen Poortvliet and Frank Frazetta.

I think the discipline and technical mastery of skills as an artist, is only matched by my need to tell a story that has a powerful emotional impact, and is visually compelling. My subjects often vary from medieval fantasy, to horror, to mystery, to modern present day.


In 1989, I retired from the military and contract work to return to school.

Although I initially started working with ad agencies, freelance work began right after earning a degree in Illustration and Advertising from the Art Institute of Ft. Lauderdale.

I moved to Orlando, Florida, and worked briefly with Valencia College as a graphics specialist, where I supervised the designs of the marketing and support team of east campus, for the “Creative Design Studios”. I did other freelance work for various magazines: Showboats International, Southern Boating, Florida Sports, Golf for Women and many more.  

Children’s books, with Hartcourt’s educational series, was a very pleasing endeavor, as it published art with the gaming industry, of which I still pursue today.

The Present

Illustrating graphic novels is a recent endeavor. I’m presently working on two projects with John Bateman, called “Tutela” and “LORE”, as well as a project with Nuno Teixeira called “Hellmouth”.

When pursuing graphic novel projects, I am attracted to dynamic models of the human condition. I enjoy depicting heroes, villains, and all characters in between, with a vast array of strengths and weaknesses.

Sequential art is very appealing to me because I’m able to produce the work in a variety of art mediums. Simply put; I can get my hands into it if I like! I’m able to match the story with the textures of a medium that will best enhance the visual theme and to bring a narrative to life.

I’m also designing miniatures for FASA Games, called “1879”, which is soon to be made into an RPG.

Finally, I’ve recently completed illustrations for the upcoming “ShadowHunter’s Codex”, which will be in bookstores Oct 29, 2013. It is based on the New York, bestselling author, Cassandra Clair’s “Mortal Instruments” series, “City of Bones”.


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