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Meet the artist: Jonathan Earley

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Jonathan Earley's latest exhibit is at the gallery space at Columbus' Hotel Indigo.
Jonathan Earley's latest exhibit is at the gallery space at Columbus' Hotel Indigo. SUBMITTED PHOTO

To say Jonathan Earley boasts eclectic artistic tastes and talents is like saying Columbus offers a few nicely designed buildings. It just doesn’t go far enough.

The 27-year-old resident is a website designer by day with his and partner Steven Riche’s firm,, handling everything from an online presence for companies to video production. But he moonlights as a graphic design artist, animator, photographer, drummer, college instructor and Kung Fu enthusiast.

“I tend to be all over the board,” he said. “I’ve always been more of a big-picture person or a generalist.”

He actually was speaking of his art, including a graphic arts exhibit now at Columbus Museum of Art and Design’s gallery at Hotel Indigo, 400 Brown St. But he might as well have been speaking of the variety of his life.

He graduated with honors and at the top in his class from Cogswell Polytechnical College in Sunnyvale, Calif. He modeled prominent video game characters in Tim Schaffer’s critically acclaimed “Brütal Legend,” and saw his animation work air on Nickelodeon’s “Yo Gabba Gabba” and subsequently placed on Rolling Stone’s website.

The 2003 Columbus East High School graduate will mark the opening of his Hotel Indigo show, full of geometric shapes that may remind some of fanciful variations from the game “Spirograph,” from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Friday. The free exhibit runs through March 30. His work also is featured on his personal website at

When did you know you had artistic talent?

As soon as I could hold a pen. It was maybe at age 2 or 3, I just started drawing and really enjoyed it. My parents saw that and started buying me drawing supplies such as markers and paper.

Then I started reading comic books as a kid and replicated the comics.

What do you want people to see in the geometric, graphic images on display at Hotel Indigo?

I guess I don’t have any particular intent for the audience. These really were created for me. So much of my professional work is for clients and to help them achieve their goals and further their business.

... If the designs remind people of something, that’s totally fine. But I’m strictly experimenting with aesthetics and tools.

You teach digital design at Ivy Tech Community College-Columbus/Franklin. Can you teach creativity?

I believe that creativity involves finding a way to breathe new life into old subject matter that otherwise could be stale. It’s really about finding something relevant that’s really going to engage the students — or reinventing it in some way.

What’s a hallmark of much of your work, whatever the medium?

One commonality is that I tend to want things to have a little edge to them — to be a little uncomfortable. If things are a little too predictable, I get bored.

Where will you go in the future with your art?

Because of the Web design business, it has sort of become a hobby or personal outlet. So much of my time has to be spent using my creative passion to achieve other people’s goals.

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