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Subsign Spotlight #126: Ionuț Mitrea (Johnnyizdead)

Subsign: First, can you tell us a few things about yourself?

Ionuț: I guess I can start from the obvious? Hmm, my name is Mitrea Ionuț Adrian, but everybody knows me as Johnnyizdead. This is my artist name, my creative persona, my signature and is my ego. I got the name from way back in the day when I bought my first cassette tape album, an incredible project: “De La Soul Is Dead – De La Soul”, and I’m sure everybody listened to those guys, but never knew who they were… Well, these are the guys who laugh maniacally at the start of “Feel Good Inc.” by Gorillaz.

Skipping music for now, I’ve been a Graphic Designer and Visual Artist for almost 8 years, and now I dwell around digital paintings. I like to call myself “your average local artist, but more appreciated outside, than locally”.

Subsign: What was your childhood like? Do you think your childhood experiences have influenced your present creative endeavors?

Ionuț: I knew that at one point I would have to answer this question publicly, and I had become too comfortable with not being asked this question in past interviews. I grew up without parental figures, my childhood was not so happy, and I mostly forgot big pieces of it. People say you learn from your mistakes, well I learned a lot, ‘cuz I made lots of mistakes, and I guess I got influenced in my present creative endeavor by my childhood freedom and uncensored way of living youth.

Subsign: What did you want to be as a grown up?

Ionuț: Busy, I always wanted to have something to do with my life. I still remember when I was young and I was so bored watching that Windows XP green field wallpaper for hours and thinking that I couldn’t wait to grow up and have things to do. Oh boy, how wrong I was…

Subsign: What does your workstation look like?

Ionuț: Modest little workstation, I don’t have shackles to a workplace; I always migrate between studios and personal places. The only thing I follow in a workstation is not the big-money specs, it’s the comfort, the vibe.

Subsign: Do you have a work style? How would you describe it?

Ionuț: By definition my work style is somewhere halfway between pop art and avantgarde. How would I describe it? A controlled chaos of brushstrokes and raw movements and feelings.

Subsign: Can you share with us how your creative process works?

Ionuț: I find it pretty hard to explain how a creative process works in general, but I will use the fitting words of a great artist and jazzmaster James Mtume:

“You know, there’s the three stages I talk about

The creative, the creative, uh, sequence

The first stage is imitation

I don’t care who you are, where you come from

I don’t care if you’re a artist, poet, I mean musician, poet, you a painter, sculptor

There’s somebody that you see and you say, “Damn I want to do it just like that”

So you pretty much imitate, that’s your first, that’s your first guide

Then somewhere along there you develop, uh, what I call a passage to emulation

Now what, what do I mean by that?

You still have that other person

You know, that is your main influence

But you’re startin’ to find a little bit of yourself

And if you’re fortunate enough, you go to the third stage, innovation

That’s when you establish who you are.”

Speech by James Mtume from the Red Bull Music Academy Tokyo 2014.

Subsign: What is your favorite work you have done so far?

Ionuț: Is this one, technically I have lots of more polished works, but it’s still my favourite work ‘cuz it’s a person special to me.

Subsign: Who do you follow for inspiration?

Ionuț: I like to think about myself that I am past my following and imitation stage, but I can say I will forever be inspired just knowing people like Jamie Hewlett exist at the same time as me.

Subsign: What advice would you give to someone starting out in the creative field of work?

Ionuț: Don’t make compromises, carefully “choose” your name, and keep it clean. Don’t chase big checks, don’t dwell where you don’t feel free, and don’t worry about money and success. If you build a good name, eventually that name will be its own currency.

Subsign: If you could have a super power, what would it be?

Ionuț: To age slowly, not immortality, but a little more life. My close friends still joke about me being a vampire and that I look like I don’t age. I just wanna see a distant future where, maybe or maybe not, I will watch people admiring my work in a modern museum.

Subsign: Can you recommend a book, a song and a movie, for our readers?

Ionuț: “Blood Meridian” written by Cormac McCarthy

KayCyy – “THE SUN” (Prod. Gesaffelstein)

“Night in Paradise” (2020) directed by Park Hoon-jung

One is about love, one about affinity for violence, and one is about the illusion of freedom, now I will let y’all discover which is which.

Subsign: If you could throw any kind of party, what would it be like and what famous people would you invite?

I think it will be a small party in a rented place, like a Korean Barbeque place, with cheap beers and expensive Japanese whiskey. I would invite the most random people I can think of, like Jamie Hewlett, Kendrick Lamar, Hajime Sorayama, Chino Moreno, I don’t know, the most random creative individuals and artists I appreciate ‘cuz it will be chaotic as fuck, and for sure a some sort of project would be born there with a big story to tell.

Thank you, Ionuț, for being a part of our Spotlight!

If you know an artist that should be in the spotlight, contact us at

For more of  Ionuț‘s work, you can follow his work on the links: Ionuț on Instagram,  Ionuț on Behance.


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"Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard."

Guy Kawasaki