This is Niles of Sunrise Community and I’m with Mr. John Bauer. We’re here to talk a little bit about himself, his art, and his gaming career. So John, how about we get started with learning a little more about you. Where is your family from?
John: I’m adopted, so I was born in Chicago and all my biological family is in Chicago. We moved down to Florida a little bit before high school and we’ve been in Florida ever since.
Okay, so let’s hear a little bit more about yourself. What was growing up like for you?
John: Well I was adopted really young, at seven years old by a much older family. They were retiring, so they retired down in Florida, near Key West. I miss it down there, but it’s just so expensive and far away from everything so we had to move to Miami. I had a much older adopted father, so we had to move to Miami, closer to hospitals and all that.
So what about some of your likes and dislikes? We know you like art and video games.
John: Well, I love music. Music is very important because, I’ve noticed whatever day I’m having, there’s always a playlist for it, you know? If I’m having a bad day I’ll listen to a different playlist from a good day playlist.
Yeah, I’m the same exact way. I always have a playlist for every sort of mood or whatever activity I’m doing. There’s always something to play. Even if it’s just in my head. But are there any bands that you like in particular?
John: Well, I think you’ve heard something like this before but today’s music I think is like 90 % garbage [laughs], just recycled. I listen still to the 80’s and 90’s. Like, I’m still bumping Frank Sinatra from, you know, to Linkin Park. That’s how eclectic my tastes are
Well, that’s great. You know what they say about people with more eclectic tastes, right?
They’re more open-minded.
John: Of course, yeah
Yeah [laughs], they take in more information. So since, we’re on that subject, what other activities do you like? I know we’ll get to art and gaming, but…
John: Right yeah. I love gaming, love art…I love travelling too.
Oh yeah? Where have you been?
John: Bahamas… when I was growing up we had an RV and would go roadtripping every summer.
John: I’ve seen so many different cultures and cities in America. But recently, I’ve been to the Bahamas and Canada and Alaska. Alaska was my favorite because it’s so untouched by modern America. You can actually wake up and just see nature in its purest form. And the people are so friendly too. I’ve noticed that when you have so little, like of modern things, you’re a lot friendlier than someone from the big city life. I love the country life because I think you can put everything into perspective.
So you’re a nature lover?
John: Yeah, but I don’t take it overboard. I take everything into perspective.
Okay, well how about we talk about your art now. What got you started?
John: Man, um… I’ve always been into art. I started with drawings of different names and shapes. You know, drawing people’s names with different characters. But once I met Esmeilyn, she… Well, a lot of artists and teachers will have their own style and try to imprint that on you. But with Esmeilyn, she asks, she gets to know you. She’ll ask “What do you like?” And she takes what you like and perfects that, and then shows you the many amazing things that you can do with it. And what I like doing is taking – I wouldn’t say good or bad characters – but I like taking classic, iconic characters and spinning them around. Give people a different sense of what this character might be like, you know? It’s all imagination and “what if”’s.
Okay well then let’s talk about your style a bit. I know you describe yourself as a… um… pop art urban artist?
John: Yeah, I love, like… being in Miami, I love color… I love boldness. I love iconic characters, but with my imagination, I like to put my own tastes on popular characters. With my style, “Mask Up,” I like to put a mask on the characters and leave mystery. Is he good? Is he bad? A different face on iconic characters.
Right and that’s part of the Mask Up series?
That’s pretty cool. Any other influences?
John: Um, yeah Wynwood. I love Wynwood. We went there a couple years ago for the first time. It was like an eye-opener. The layers of art in that small area is just so beautiful… from the walls to the galleries, to the people. They’re all expressions of these different arts and colors. It’s just beautiful.
Okay well, for those who aren’t familiar with Wynwood. It’s a part of Miami, big on the art scene and they have a monthly art walk. It’s a pretty colorful place to be.
Okay, let’s move onto your gaming then. I know that’s another big aspect of your life. I know on your instragram you have thousands of followers. Right now you’re playing Overwatch. You main “Reaper” right now? (To main a character means it is your primary character)
John: Yeah and I started gaming from the original Gameboy to the Gameboy color, the original playstation and the xbox. I started competitive “Call of Duty” probably three years ago? I started a game mode called “Kill Confirmed” and I just thought “Hey, I’m good at it” and, no lie, got all the way up to the top 100 in the world. Basically, I went from there and well… more importantly, I’m sort of trying to break the door down of the stereotypical gamer and I want to introduce people from different networks. From the disabled network, the arts… all that. You know, the gaming community is open to all types of people.
Okay, so you want to use gaming as a means of bridging gaps with different groups?
John: Of course!
Okay, so are there any other games that you like?
John: Oh I play everything from Overwatch to Fortnite. Also Tekken.
Have you ever tried PUBG?
John: Oh of course, I have PUBG. Look, there’s PUBG and then there’s Fortnite. Fortnite is basically the cartoony version of PUBG. It takes a lot of patience in PUBG, because it’s just so serious. But Fortnite, I can see why a lot of people like it. Obviously, it’s free and it’s faster. It’s faster-paced it’s… more fun, you know?
Oh okay, so you’re in the camp that Fortnite is more fun than PUBG?
John: Oh yeah!
You know there’s like a little rivalry between the two fan bases
John: [Laughs] Yeah, there’s definitely rivalry there.
Alright well, let’s move on then. How about some of your goals? Let’s talk about some of your short-term goals first. What do you have planned in the near future that you’re working on?
John: I love making art, but I… you know… I just want to keep doing what I love. I just want to keep inspiring people. I get DM’s every day from people saying like “You inspire me” and “I want to be a better gamer because of you” and that pumps me up and makes me want to keep doing it. So I just want to keep inspiring people. (DM’s are private messages)
Pretty good goal to have.
John: Yeah I think it’s needed, especially now... these days
Okay well, well what about the art show coming up? I don’t know if you want to give away any details on what you plan on painting?
John: That’s, that’s going to be kept pretty close to the chest.
So it’s a secret?
John: Yeah, yeah… sort of. [Laughs] It’s a secret, but it’s going to be… you’re going to see my style
Alright sounds good! Well, thanks for sitting with me today, John. Appreciate it, man. Can’t wait to see what you do at the show.
John: Yeah, I’m ready.
Well, this was John Bauer, one of our amazing artists and a very talented gamer as well. You’re going to have a chance to see him paint live, next Saturday, March 31st at the Sunrise Community Art Show. So for more information on that, just check it out below. Hope to see you there.
To learn more about John, check him out on his Instagram @wikd_rampage and be sure to come see him paint live at our free Art Show event Saturday, March 31st at 4:30 pm at 11241 SW 184th Street, Miami, FL 33157