Graphic artist creates with vinyl


by: Photo By Susan Matheny - Alan St. John has taken sign making to a new level.

   Graphic artist Alan St. John has created what he believes is a new art form -- large-scale vinyl art.
   His first piece is a 4 x 8 foot white vinyl board embossed with a gold-plated vinyl cheetah, running at full speed.
   St. John, who makes vinyl business and event signs for Mail, Copies and More in Madras, observed, "As far as I know, no one has taken it from signs to this form."
   When he suggested the idea, his employers supported him in the effort and told him to "go for it," he said.
   The sign maker has a commercial art degree and studies fine art as a hobby. Before moving to Madras, he previously designed lighting for concerts, and did animation for laser shows. Another project involved building a giant lotus flower out of PVC pipe for the Douglas County Festival of Lights. The house-sized flower was rigged with lights and pulleys which opened and closed the petals.
   He recently finished creating a CD album cover for Bend musician Russ Pennavaria's new recording "Lending Voices" along with art images for each of the individual songs.
   The gold cheetah image was made by scanning a photo of a cheetah with a computer, then converting the image into a bit-map. A special machine at the sign shop cuts out the outlines, then St. John completed the picture by hand, adding the black spots, eye, grass and sculpting the edges.
   "The cheetah, which took me 12 hours from start to finish, has a price of $600, but I almost hate to sell it," he said, admitting he's gotten attached to the piece.
   He's already been asked to do a smaller horse picture and is working on a picture in gold of the goddess Aphrodite.
   "I want to do a series of animal, patriotic, and Native American pictures," he said, noting, "Unlike paints, this form of art is weather-resistant to a certain degree and can be displayed outside for a couple of years."