We had the good fortune of connecting with John Gunn and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi John, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
My artistic / creative career began after a very dark and depressing time in my life. In my late teens and early twenties, I was an avid photographer and digital artist. I was also a Police Explorer and an Air force ROTC Cadet with a life goal of serving in the U.S. military and a career in Federal law enforcement. That all changed when I saw my eye doctor for an eye examination. I remember it as if it happened yesterday. My doctor took a quick look at my left and moved onto my right. This time it was not quick, he paused for a moment readjusted his chair to allow more light to be directed to my right eye and took another long look. He then got up and told my Mom and I that I had a severely detached retina. A few days later I had the surgery to correct the detachment, but the damage was already done. I had to resign from ROTC and endure being legally blind unless I wore the irritating and painful contact lens. After I had healed from the surgery. I decided to enlist into the U.S. Air Force. Months later at the L.A. M.E.P.S. I was medically disqualified for service. Several months later my friend who joined the U.S. Army was killed in action in Ramadi, Iraq. I fell into serious depression. My abstract digital art always seemed to end up looking like explosions or fire. Years later my Dad offered to pay for Lasik surgery to correct my right eye. A flicker of hope could be seen as I regained my sight. After healing from the Lasik surgery. I attempted to enlist in the U.S. Army with a Special Forces contract. But due to the fact that the Air Force disqualified me and that my eye had a greater chance of another detachment. I was again disqualified. I continued to create art and tried to sell it online but it just seemed to be getting darker. Always depicting combat, explosions or pain and suffering. During this time struggling with different jobs, I was forced to move back home. Knowing that I had a loving family and parents that loved me, did little to help with my depression. I remember cleaning my pistol even though I hadn’t fired it weeks. I wiped it clean making sure I got all the spots of oil off when I paused. I thought to myself, “I have no purpose.” “No reason to live.” “God made a mistake.” “Tim should be alive and I should have died in Iraq.” I put one 9mm round in my pistol’s magazine, then inserted the magazine into the pistol and released the slide loading the weapon. I then pressed the barrel to my head and pulled the trigger. The moment the gun should have went off I heard a crash. It didn’t scare me. I knew exactly what had happened. My Mom had dropped a frying pan as she was making dinner. That made me start thinking. If I had taken my own life. It would have caused her more pain than what I was going through. Then I thought of my Dad, sister and brother. My pain should not fall on them. The pain of my suicide should not be theirs to bare. As I removed the bullet and put the weapon away. I started to pray. “God give me a purpose.” “A reason to live.” “If you don’t want me to serve in the military and help protect this country that I love.” “What can I do?” “TELL THE STORY” Those words echoed in my mind. I thought, “how can I tell the story?” “Write a book.” I’ll write a book in honor of Tim. Eight months later my book “The Price I Paid. Book one Ramadi. Was self-published and released on Amazon. I also continued writing a short story series about a veteran who uses art to help with his PTSD. Using my own art that I once saw as explosions and pain are now being used as the book covers. Since then, I’ve also started my own film and music production company. I’ve used my art as my single and album covers. This year my first short film “I can, I will, I must.” which is about military veteran suicides, was released and is available on Amazon to stream and to purchase as a DVD. While making the film I’ve gotten to know several great veterans who are now friends. One of them is a Retired Marine Corps Sargeant. He’s been a inspiration in my life and someone I look up to. He also starred in my film. So, to get back to your question. Why did you pursue an artistic or creative career? I do it to help share the stories of those cannot share it themselves. I do it to share hope to those have lost all hope. If my art, music, books or films can do what my Moms frying pan did for me then I’ll keep doing this until God calls me home. (His way.) I now have a purpose. A reason to live.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’m most proud of my short film “I can, I will, I must.” The way the cast and crew came together to help create this film with the hope to save the lives of veterans and first responders. I’m also grateful to those who have read my book “The price I paid. Book one. Ramadi.” The veterans who have left comments have been very helpful in assisting me in writing the second book in series. I would want the world to know that there is hope. Even in the dark times. You just have to look. Focus on other people and not yourself.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
1st. God. 2nd My family and friends. 3rd The U.S. military and first responders that protect this great nation.
Other: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08C5MV3PC/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=I+CAN%2C+I+WILL%2C+I+MUST.&qid=1593633336&s=instant-video&sr=1-1 https://www.amazon.com/Can-Will-Must-Special/dp/B08DBNH934/ref=tmm_dvd_title_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr= https://open.spotify.com/artist/7t0wMu9fBeuJxX41EPmOwh
All photos are owned by John M. Gunn