Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Main Street Magazine Interview.

  I will be posting my normal blog on Monday, but I wanted to share this interview with you done by Main Street Magazine.  It is a print magazine based in Canada.  The blank spaces are where photo's and pictures are in the publication, but I couldn't cut and paste theme for the article. If you want to see the article as it actually appeared, you can go here  to download it for free. I hope you enjoy!
Main Street Magazine had the opportunity to interview “Nick”, and we are happy to have him in our 
first “ART IN ACTION” article! We know too that as you read his story, walk in his shoes and get to the 
man, the artist and the vision of “Nick Rose”- that you too will love him as much as we do! 
“I was born with the name William “Nick” 
Johns”, Nick told MSM, “but after becoming a 
professional artist, I decided to go by a name I 
had used in my days of doing fandom art, Nick 
Rose. I always have had a love for roses, and I 
felt like my life was a lot like a rose. After a long 
time I bloomed into something beautiful, but 
still would draw blood if you were not careful. 
That’s one reason I named my blog “Every Rose 
has its Thorn” like the song by Poison. If you’re 
interested in reading it, you can find it at 
I talk about my life as an artist, the work I do, 
and share the lessons I was taught by 2 of the 
greatest artist in the world, Master Daniel 
Horne and Fantasy legend Todd Lockwood. Like 
myself, I realize that there are a lot of talented 
artist out there that never got the chance to go 
to an expensive art school and learn the things 
that “famous artist” learn, but mostly don’t 
want to share. I understand why a good 
percentage of artist don’t want to share the 
knowledge, (They don’t want any more 
competition than they already have) but in my 
eyes, I feel that the knowledge should be 
shared with anyone who seeks it”. Daniel 
reached out and offered to help me after we 
had known each other for several years. He is 
truly one of the all time greats, and a wonderful 
man. His paintings, sculptures and Monster 
masks are amazing, and he does do some on 
line classes as well. The lessons he taught me 
where handed down by the very first American 
Master, Howard Pyle. So there is a lot of pride 
and history there. One day I hope to do a book 
or a long article on the linage of how the 
knowledge was passed from one student to the 
next. I know the Master that trained Daniel is 
named Ken Lagger. 
Daniel introduced me to Todd Lockwood to 
learn the basic rules of drawing and painting. 
Todd is an awesome man and artist, but he 
explained to me he didn’t have time to blow 
smoke up my butt, and if I wanted to learn, he 
didn’t have time to waste so I did everything he 
told me to do. It was like going to boot camp, I 
love Todd to death, but he didn’t cut me any 
slack. At one point he told me I had no business 
painting, because I didn’t even understand how 
to draw. I’m not ashamed to admit it, he had 
me in tears. Up to that point I had been working 
in small press and had at least 80 illustrations 
under my 
belt, 20 of those being covers, and at the time I 
could not understand why he would say such 
things to me, but now 4 years later, I 
understand why, and in his shoe’s would have 
done the same thing. One thing is for sure, 
without the help of these two wonderful men, 
my career would have been very different. 
A self taught 
artist does not 
know those 
basic’s, you can 
read about 
them, but until 
actually takes 
the time to go 
over them with 
you with 
examples, questions and answers you really 
don’t “get it”, or at least I didn’t and most of my
friends that I came up through the ranks with 
didn’t either. It’s like when I was a kid and I 
wanted to learn Kung Fu, and I bought some 
book full of pictures on how to do it. I studied it 
and I thought I knew what I was doing, until I 
got out of the Army and studied Martial Arts for 
several years. The real thing, and I what I 
thought I had learned from the book where two 
very different things. So this is why outside of 
doing my own art and projects that passing this 
knowledge on is something that is very close to 
the chest with me. I want to equal the playing 
field, and give everyone the same chance I was 
given. If Daniel and Todd hadn’t helped me, I 
would be someone that only a few people have 
heard of. I am also putting all this information 
into several books and DVD’ that should be 
available around 2014, and we are going to sell 
them very cheap compared to the 100 grand 
you would spend at an art school. I’m thinking 
just enough to cover the cost, plus a few dollars 
for the work put into it, and of course the 
money we donate to children’s charities. That is 
something very important to Madison and I. 
MSM: Your artwork is considered by most as 
being on the dark side. How do you describe it? 
What some see as dark and scary, I see as 
beautiful, mysterious and consider to be part of 
who I am. I often tell the young folks that I was 
“Goth” before people had a name for it. I am 
not a person of evil, a devil worshiper or any 
such thing. I just see the world in a dark light, 
and I consider that a gift. You can’t have the 
light without the darkness. Most the images I 
paint are a reflection of how I see some of the 
real life monsters that have always found there 
way to me ever since I was a child, or the ones I
see on the news, and pass by on the street. The 
painting of the ghost girl (Spooky) to me is a sad 
painting. A poor little girl’s spirit left behind for 
whatever reason, just wanting someone to 
spend time with, but people run in terror from 
her because she is different and misunderstood. 
Like all things the majority of the human race 
doesn’t understand, they either kill, or 
experiment on. I have dreamed about her on 
several occasions and often wonder if she is 
Over half of the work I do comes from my 
dreams, and a good bit comes from writers who 
I am hired to illustrate a cover for, but things 
have changed now. If I do work with a publisher 
or writer, it really has to be something that gets 
me excited and I feel like was made for me. I 
have reached the point to where I can pick and 
choose the work I do, and the really dark work 
is yet to come. One of the projects I am 
publishing myself is going to be called “The 
Book of Rose” It is a story told, with countless 
drawings and paintings by me, and it will be 
very dark. The faint of heart will have 
nightmares from it. But that is all I can say for 
now. Perhaps when I get it completed and 
published, I will tell more then, but honestly, I 
have a few people out there that like to steal 
my ideal’s, and this one no one is going to have 
a clue about until it is out and everything is 
trademarked and copyrighted. I am creating a 
role playing game based on it as well and there 
will be many volumes of “The Book of Rose” to 
come. This is one of those projects that will 
keep on as long as I am alive, perhaps even 
To me the darkness is like a blanket. In it, I feel 
protected and free from harm. When I am hurt, 
it is where I go to heal. I remember when I was 
a young teenager; my stepfather would get 
drunk and beat either my mom or me. I still 
have the scars under my neck from where he 
threw a glass at me and it shattered in my neck. 
My mom wouldn’t take me to the hospital, 
because she was afraid of what he would do. 
Instead, she picked most all the glass out of my 
neck with a pair of tweezers. I was lucky that it 
didn’t hit a main vein, after that I ran into the 
woods to a place only I knew about and hide in 
the darkness. The moon was out, and I could 
feel something around me giving me comfort as 
I shook with terror from what the monster had 
done to me. I didn’t come out of 
the woods the next day until he 
had left for work. That was the first 
time I can remember not being 
afraid of the dark, and felt safe in 
it. That is why my tag line is “May 
the Darkness Comfort You”
How did you come up with the name "Wicked Kitty Studio?" 
Well, the truth is, it just kind of happened. I’ve 
always loved cats, and anything to do with 
them, including cartoons. Shortly after I moved 
in with Madison, she got a cat for her daughter 
and named it Misty. We had no ideal how old 
Misty was, because the family we got her from 
had found her a few years earlier in a church 
parking lot. At that point she was already full 
grown. But the couple who had found her told 
us that she didn’t “Play” well with other cats 
and hada lot of “wild” left in her. They finally 
had to get rid of her, since they had several cats 
and Misty didn’t want to share the food with 
the other cats. 
She was declawed, so she could not scratch us, 
but she had one mean bite. I had also noticed 
that she seem very sensitive in the back half of 
her body, so I am guessing that she was hurt at 
some point and 
was never given the medical attention she 
Misty took up to me like I was her long lost 
owner, but she would play rough with Madison 
and the kids, so 
as a joke I 
started calling 
her “Wicked 
Kitty” and one 
night when 
everyone else 
was in bed, I got 
a wild hair and 
did a sketch of a 
cartoon like cat 
with an eye- 
patch, scars and so on. A few weeks later I did a 
quick painting based on the sketch, and I added 
the words Wicked Kitty Studio, and the Studio 
was born. It was about this time that Madison 
started forking out a ton of money for some 
very expensive equipment for me to use, and as 
the year went by, she had invested a lot into my 
career and gave me the chance I never had 
before. So Wicked Kitty Studio became a 
publishing company as well. Once we knew that 
we where going to be married and spend our 
lives together, I made her the owner of 
the company, so everything we build will be 
protected. By the time people are reading this, 
it will be Wicked Kitty Enterprises LLC. 
Would you say that Nick Rose is the alter ego of William Johns? 
Now that is a very interesting question. 
Maybe William Johns is the alter ego of Nick 
Rose, my secret identity. Lol. Seriously though, 
that is something to talk about, and I have 
never really thought about it until now. Back in 
the day, when I was working doing fandom art, I 
had to install floors to support myself. So I 
created this switch in my mind and when I got 
up in the mornings, had my coffee, got in my 
van, and drive off to bust my tail all day putting 
down carpet, working as hard as I could just to 
get home to the things I loved. By the time I got 
home, I would be tired and frustrated. One 
thing about being an artist is that you hate 
doing anything other than creating or you get 
‘upset” when you can’t do what your heart 
desires to do. Anyway, when I got home, I 
would take a shower, set the alarm clock to
sleep and hour, and when it went off, the coffee 
was brewing, and I would walk into my studio. 
At that moment I would become Nick Rose, and 
I would draw and paint until quit often I would 
fall asleep in my 
work chair. Then the next morning I would wake 
up and be William Nick Johns again. I know that 
sounds strange, but it worked. If I went into the 
studio and still had the dirt and sweat on me 
from installing carpet, nothing creative could or 
would happen. 
When I was Nick Rose, I wouldn’t take a 
business call, it was like having on a suit of 
armour to protect me from all the bullshite of 
the real world, and I wouldn't let anyone in. 
When most young people where out partying 
and dating, I was very happy in my studio letting 
my imagination take me to dark and happy 
places, other worlds, and just forgetting all the 
pain and memories that continued to haunt me 
to this very day. 
Throughout my career I have used the name 
Nick Rose, and very early on, I went by the 
name Gypsy, which was a nickname my friends 
had given me. It’s tattooed on my right 
shoulder. When I started training under Daniel 
and Todd, a close friend talked me into using 
my real name, William Johns, because as they 
convinced me, it was the proper way to show 
respect. I agreed and believed it to be the best 
thing to do, but I soon realized what a horrible 
mistake I had made by doing this. It was like 
showing all the wounds from the pain I grew up 
with that never healed. Some people poured 
salt on those wounds in a matter of speaking. It 
was the worse psychological mistake I ever 
made. I showed that beaten, terrified child to a 
cold word full of people who hated me because 
I had been given the chance that Thousands 
dream off, to be trained by a Master. I spent 3 
weeks in the hospital because I almost 
committed suicide. 
These days, buried somewhere deep inside of 
me is William, but Nick Rose is who I am now, 
and will always be. It’s the only way I can deal 
with Monsters and pain. I have been seeing a
Therapist this last year, and I don’t know if that 
will help me or not. I don’t know if I want to be 
helped, but I have learned to forgive, but I 
cannot forget, and as long as I can not forget, I 
will always need Nick Rose. So Nick Rose is not 
an alter ego, it is who I am. 
Who are your biggest fans? 
This is one of the big surprises that I never 
expected. To have fans for one. Just on 
Facebook alone, when you count my friends, 
the number of people in my fan club, and the 
followers of my blogs, the numbers are over 
11,000 fans and friends, and all of this has 
happened in just this last year. I prefer the word 
friends over fans and from what I can tell, my 
audience is about half male and the other half 
female, and there is no certain age bracket. The 
fans range from 18 to 70. 30 and above buy 
more prints, which Is normal, because most 
young folks can’t afford things like that yet. 
I had a birthday a couple of days ago, and I got 
over 400 happy birthday wishes from my friends 
on Facebook, and probably another 1000 in 
private letters or regular mail. Two years ago, I 
got one Birthday Card and well wishes. On 
Facebook, I took the time to thank each person 
that wrote Happy Birthday to me. It took me 2 
long days to respond to all of them, but I did. It 
was important to me to let them all know I 
really appreciated them. Madison told me that 
I should just say one big Thank you and in the 
future I may to do that if the numbers keep 
growing, but right now I want people to know 
how much I appreciate the kind things they do 
and say for me. This last year I went through 
some serious health issues, and if wasn’t of the 
love of Madison and the children, and the 
friends I have made through my art, I don’t 
think I would have made it. I did though, and 
now I am healthy as you can expect from a man 
with my health issues. I keep promising 
everyone at least 30 more years of new art and 
teaching, and I don’t break my promises. 
I’ve had to go through some bad things in my 
life (But we all have) but if I had known that it 
would all bring me to right here and right now, I 
wouldn’t have changed a thing. This has been 
the happiest year of my life. 
You had some personal battles in your life regarding drugs and alcohol, is your art a reflection of those 
I am really glad you brought this up Tilly. It is 
not something that I am proud of, but I really 
hope the young people out there listen to what 
I have to say and take it to heart. 
Yes is the simple answer. My life is my art, the 
things I’ve done, the people I have known, the 
people I have loved, the places I have traveled 
and the drugs I have taken. What I am going to 
tell you is the truth, and I’m not proud of it at 
Back in 1975, when I was in High School, a girl 
who I had a major crush on, I think her name 
was Missy, offered me a joint one night on the 
way home from an after school acting class in 
what I thought was the coolest van I had ever 
seen. I smoked it with her, and I keep smoking 
until I was around 40 years of age which was 
about 13 years ago. The day I walked away from 
drugs after pot had been a major 
part of my life for 23 years. In those 23 years I 
had also done mushrooms, acid, speed, 
downers and hash. It was my escape. I didn’t 
drink much, as a matter of a fact back then I 
was a lightweight, after 2 beers I was sick and 
done. So my escape from reality was pot 
mostly. The other stuff was just here and there, 
very rare for the most part. 
I discovered my art talent while I was in the 
army, I was a late bloomer, and my art and pot 
became one and the same. You know, like 
peanut butter and jelly. I could not, or at least I 
thought I could not, draw or paint unless I was 
stoned. That is probably the main reason I 
wasn’t able to make art my career until 
recently. After I got past the pot, I took up 
drinking. As I got older I found out I could drink 
much more than when I was young. I just went 
from one addiction to another. I honestly 
believed that without my “high” I could not 
create. During all of those years, I also smoked 
cigarettes. Two Packs a day, every day. 
When I look back at this part of my life, some of 
it I can blame on the horrors of my childhood, 
but the real truth is, I did these things because I 
was not happy. I was your stereotype artist, 
having a tortured soul and all. I hated my life. I 
hated having to work for other people, 
especially step family, and I really hated being 
on my knees all day installing different types of 
floors. All I could think about was getting home 
to draw or paint. That was the only time I felt 
alive. There was no doubt in my mind that I was 
meant to be an artist, but of course everyone, 
including some of my family thought it was just 
a silly dream, and I should grow up. 
Now here comes the reality break, I could have 
changed my life if I would have had a clue to as 
which direction I should have took, or had the 
courage to move to New York City. Again, 
another reason for 
my blog. It was the year 2000 before I 
discovered the potential of the internet. By this 
time I had given up drugs, except for speed and 
was nothing more than a working alcoholic that 
hadn’t drew in about 5 years. I had given up. I 
was drinking myself to death. Then I saw that 
with the internet, I could reach 100s of 
publishers with samples and go see all the 
artists that had inspired me through the years. 
To be brief, I paid to have a website built for 
me and then I sent e-mails out to 5 publishers 
with samples. Within 3 days I got back 5 letters 
from those publishers, offering me work. Within 
2 weeks, I was invited to 2 conventions as a 
guest in NC and VA. Now 11 years later, things 
have never stopped, and I have countless fans 
and I paint for a living. Almost 2 years ago, I 
finally quit smoking, and a few months ago I had 
my last drink. During those years, I did a lot of 
damage to my body, all because I was not 
happy. Now I am happy and I have given up all 
the bad things. Because of all those bad things I 
now have COPD, Diabetes, Ulcerative Colitis, 
High Blood Pressure, Heart Disease to name 
some of the Hell’s I created for myself. The VA 
even tells me I have PTSD from my childhood. 
So no matter how you look at it.
My body is a mess. It is recovering, and getting 
stronger, but I will never be whole again. The 
best I can hope for is that I keep doing the 
positive things I am doing for myself and with 
the powers that be have mercy on me, and let 
me be with you all for another 30 years. The 
number of paintings I could paint in 30 years 
and the students I could train is very motivating 
to me. 
The thing is this, if I had just focused on my 
work, instead of how miserable I was, things 
would be very different now. For one, at 53, I 
would be healthy. What I am hoping people 
realize is this, if you just keep working hard, and 
don’t be afraid to open any closed doors, your 
dreams will come to you in time. Don’t torture 
your body; it’s not its fault. Most problems with 
our world, especially in the states is that 
everyone wants it all right now, and there is no 
honest way to do that. Live by these words if 
your a creative person “Live your life and follow 
your heart. Never give up on your dream. 
Learn all that you can and work very hard and 
most important have patience. That’s the 
biggie, Patience. Listen to only what your heart 
tells you and hold it dear. Don’t listen to the 
people that tell you to grow up, or “Get a real 
Find a job that allows you to have more free 
time to work on your craft. For instance, get a 
job where you work 3-12 hour days a week. If 
you can find a mate that supports and believes 
in you, instead of putting extra stress on you 
or/and calling you a loser, if you can’t, worry 
about making your career happen first instead 
of listening to your hormones.” Above all 
though, don’t torture yourself because the 
world hasn't accepted your work yet. It takes 
time, and always remember your ego is your 
worst enemy. You’re never as good as you think 
you are, and always be kind and well mannered 
to the people who publish and promote you. 
They could have just as easily published another 
artist instead of you. 
Besides Spiderman- who else is your hero? 
Without a doubt, that would be Madison. After 
that I would have to say Daniel and Todd. In the 
last several years I have been lucky enough to 
meet some really awesome people, and all of 
them I would call Hero’s. In my heart I pray 
everyday for the soldiers that give us our 
freedom and safety, as well as the people who 
watch over us and keep us safe, such as 
Firefighters, Police officers and the people who 
work for the health industry. The Shriners are 
personal hero’s of mine for the work they with 
When I was growing up, Spiderman was my 
favourite hero. I am a huge fan of many comic 
heroes’, but Peter Parker I could relate to. He 
was just your normal geek with a load of 
troubles, but he could become so more than 
that when danger lurked around the corner. As 
a child the only hero’s I had where the ones I 
would read about. Spidey got me through.
Going back to the beginning of your art-what were the reactions of your close friends/family when they 
saw your works? 
I didn’t take an interest in art until I was in 
the Army. Once I got out of the army, I went to 
a local community college for a year. To do that, 
I had to work a full-time 3rd shift job, and then 
go to school all day. I had gotten married while I 
was in the army, and soon after we had a 
daughter. My ex was going to school to be an 
accountant, and she did that at night, so I was 
living on about 4 hours of sleep for several 
months until my body finally just said “No 
more” I haven’t seen my daughter since she was 
2 years old. Her name was Beverly Elizabeth 
Johns. Her mother and I had gotten married 
way to young, we where still children ourselves. 
After she moved out, I never saw Beverly again, 
and I didn’t have the means or money to track 
them down. 
That is when I really started doing Fantasy art, 
and I hung out with a group of friends that I had 
meet in a Science Fiction Fan Club called 
“Starcore”. Those were some very wonderful 
days. We always went to the midnight movies 
and always were together. A few of the 
members where artist as well. They really 
encouraged me which was wonderful, because 
no one else did. Some of my family, including 
my mother would always tell me,”Why don’t 
you paint flowers or barns, you know the things 
people like and buy.” (That was another reason 
I started using Rose as my last name. I sure 
wouldn’t want to embarrass my family. Lmao) 
and of course my brother was a Southern 
Baptist Preacher, so you can imagine the things 
he would say about my work. As I got older, 
things didn’t change much until I did a few years 
of commercial work for the sports teams 
around my hometown, Charlotte, NC. I even did 
some work for Sea World and greeting card 
companies as well. Now, the family all liked 
that, because that was “Normal” but I left that 
behind because the nightmares inside of me 
where dying to come out. Until that point, most 
of my work had been Fantasy, but I wanted to 
sink my teeth into something really dark and 
scary. I was just worried that it wouldn’t be 
received well. You have to remember most of 
my life I lived in the Bible belt and I seriously 
was concerned my house would get burnt down 
or other terrors. In those days, people probably 
would have considered me the Anti-Christ if 
they saw the work I was doing these days. 
I live in Michigan now, and love it. People here 
are much more friendly and encouraging.
Is there any negative feedback regarding 
your works? 
Not that I am aware of. I do have a few 
crazed people who harass me here and 
there, but that is to be expected. Ever since 
I started training with Daniel and Todd I 
have had people threaten me and recently 
even Madison. We don’t worry about them. 
They have issues, not us. 
Outside of that, everything is very positive. 
This year alone, I’ve done 8 interviews with 
very reputable publications. I’ve also 
done a radio interview, and I am doing 
another one on Halloween. I was filmed for 
a documentary called the “Kings of Scream” 
but I don’t know where that stands right 
now. We have had tons of positive publicity 
and honestly, I know now how it could get 
any better. 
I am sure in the years to come I will do 
some pieces that will “upset’ some people 
out there, but that’s fine. I welcome that. I want my work to “disturb” people, at least then I know there 
paying attention. 
If you had to choose between drawing fantasy or horror- which would you choose and why? 
That wouldn’t even be a contest. Horror hands down. As far as my horror art goes, I am just getting 
warmed up. I will be doing some “Dark” fantasy art, but very few to be honest. I am very interested in 
the “Steampunk” look, and I will be doing some work along that line as well, with a “Dark” touch. Like I 
said, I have a gift for seeing the Dark side of life, and I am finally getting to the point where I am not 
afraid to show it. Twenty years ago, I don’t think the world would have been ready for it, but these days, 
the Dark Days, people are starting to relate to me more and more. 
Do you see any animation in your future? 
Well Tilly, I’m not an animator, but I would be open to a company using some of my characters for 
animated work if they wanted I recently had some doors opened to me in Hollywood, so at this point, 
anything is possible. I am looking forward to doing character designs and movie posters; In fact I am 
thrilled to death to have this chance. Working in the movie industry has always been a dream for me
and this last year I was approached by several Indy film makers about doing work, but nothing ever 
came from them. 
One of the models I do a lot of work with, Scream Queen Suzi Lorainne has started producing movies, 
and so I hoping to do some work with her. She has a movie coming out next year called “Won Ton Baby’ 
it is an Indy film and I am going to do a promotional painting for her of the movie. It should be a lot of 
fun, and I just love working with Suzi. She is a wonderful model and friend. 
The Hollywood job I mentioned is on a much larger scale and I am hoping to have a chance at 
impressing some movie makers with my imagination and skills. There are so many things I want to do 
with my art, and after all these years I am finally getting my chance. Please keep your fingers crossed for 
Some of your characters would make some awesome video game heroes, is this something you would 
consider doing? 
Yes. I am planning on having a video game and RPG’s made of my “The Book of Rose” project in a few 
years, and I would be open to any RPG or video game based on my work. I think that would be a blast. 
The funny thing is that for every character I draw or paint, I have a story that goes with it. I always have. 
If life gives me a chance to use all these gifts I was born with, I think people will get what they are always 
saying they want something new, things that no one has ever seen, stories that have never been told. If 
life will give me another 30 years like we talked about, I will leave behind one hell of a legacy. 
Final thoughts.... 
First and foremost, I really appreciate you taking an interest in my art and doing this interview with me, 
and I hope your readers found it to be interesting. I came from the world of hard knocks and working 
hard. I was no golden child born with a silver spoon in my mouth. Like the readers and my friends, I’ve 
had to work hard all my life, but now my I am living my dream. It took me a lot of years to make this 
happen, and without the help I got, it would have never been possible. But please take this to heart, if 
you work hard, stay patience, and get a break or two your dreams will come true to. Drugs and Alcohol 
are not the answer, believing in your self is. There is no quick route except for a path of evil. Stay off that 
path, or you whine up where so many before you have, no where and forgotten. 
Whatever your gift is, treasure it and work as hard as you can at being the best you can. Never put fame 
over your passion or you will lose both. Make a note of my blog and join me there. I will share with you 
whatever I possible can, and I will encourage you when no one else will. One last thing, please check 
out my website at we do have prints for sale at very reasonable 
prices, and please check out the link page as well. You can visit the websites of the models I use, my 
artist friends, and other great things.Many blessings and Much Love. “May the Darkness comfort you” 
~Nick Rose~

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