(Editor's Note: Stephanie Corona is a San Jose State Journalism student who wrote this piece for Patch as part of a class assignment.)
John Cloud is Campbell’s unofficial resident artist. If you’ve walked the streets of downtown Campbell, including last night's Wine Walk, chances are you’ve spotted his work or even Cloud himself.
He's warm, pleasant and has a demeanor that is infectiously charismatic. He has a loyal following—maybe for his art, maybe for his music, and maybe for both—but these are fans of Cloud first and of his work second.
Despite his success, he is humble and even a little bashful at praise. The general consensus is that it’s hard not to like him.
“I always wanted to get him," Bela La Vie owner Rachel Caballero says. "He’s the nicest guy ever and he was my first choice.”
Cloud will be debuting exclusive new work on Feb. 15 at Bela La Vie’s opening reception in downtown Campbell from 7 to 10pm.
His work can be found in boutiques, galleries and board shops, on T-shirts, CD covers, and probably a few living rooms. He’s created murals, comics and commission work for tattoo shops.
He is also the front man for Celtic rock band O’Craven. He sings, plays banjo guitar, concertina, tin whistle, and the accordion. He only sleeps four hours a night but he’s happy.
Cloud has been an artist since childhood. He pursued a career in the graphic arts industry as an adult until the industry became too competitive. He found himself making more money from the art he was creating on the side and this afforded him the luxury of leaving the industry to pursue art on his own terms.
His music career was a happy accident. He wrote an Irish drinking song for his dad 20 years ago and he hasn’t stopped since.
By far, Cloud is best known for his paintings. He manages a striking marriage of the seemingly gloomy—Day of the Dead-inspired pieces and morose trees—and bright color. At first glance, it’s hard to know what to make of it.
“A lot of my work is controversial," Cloud says. "People say it’s morbid."
"If I’m going to put something up on my wall I want something that’s going make me happy," Cloud says. "Color makes me happy.”
The resident artist is happy to do commission work outside of his comfort zone but he won’t create anything that doesn’t sit well with him.
“If it’s something I really don’t want my name associated with, something disrespectful, then I won’t do it," he says. "I try to stay away from politics. I’ll definitely draw a line.”
Deb Rohzen, owner of boutique and gallery Simply Smashing! in downtown Campbell and coordinator of Second Saturdays, adopted Cloud as her in-house artist years ago and his work has maintained a permanent home there since.
“He’s the real deal,” Rohzen says. “He’s just a very good person and what’s amazing is how unaffected he is. There’s no pretense to him whatsoever.”
Cloud dedicatedly spends every Sunday in front of Simply Smashing! live painting and selling his work.
Although his success is on an upward slope, Cloud has no plans to leave Campbell.
“Here you get the upscale vibe like you would in Los Gatos but the people are very laid back and not pretentious," he says. "The people here know art and they appreciate my stuff.”
Cloud has work all over the Bay Area and has toured with O’Craven all over California but nothing compares to the Orchard City.
“There’s just something about Campbell, I guess," he says. "I grew up here. It’s home.”
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