John Thiessen’s art has been described as raw, edgy, and sometimes controversial. Definitely within the realm of homoeroticism, there is an emotional honesty to his work that elevates the genre into a true art form.
He was attracted to art from an early age, achieving success before leaving high school. But the real inspiration for his work came from the years he walked away from drawing. In 1996, at age 14, Thiessen was diagnosed with HIV. The following years brought other major shocks to his life including the loss of his first partner. This led to a lengthy struggle with drug addiction. In 2016, he began winning his battle with addiction and that’s when he returned to his passion, creating artistic expressions gleaned from his life.
At one point, Thiessen worked for the Eagle in Chicago where he saw all sides of the leather scene. He became an instructor, teaching Masters how to work with submissives while keeping their health and safety in mind. Much of this period of his life is reflected in his work, expressing both the pleasure and pain, fear, guilt, joy and remorse he witnessed in both Master and sub.
Much of Thiessen’s work is of faceless figures, which he feels draws the viewer into the work and brings them closer to their own experiences, fantasies and sometimes raw emotions. This was the inspiration for the name of his business RawDraw Art.
Artists such as Tom of Finland and M.C. Escher are cited by Thiessen as influencers of his work. “Tom of Finland’s eroticism and expression of men before the AIDS epidemic was incredible and groundbreaking for his time” says Thiessen. “Escher’s use of 3D in his works, and how he uses depth to draw viewers into his work is a feeling I try to capture in some of my work, if not in image then by emotion”.
Thiessen says his style and ability to capture the viewer’s emotions are reflected in his work “We Are All Human”, which can be seen on his website www.rawdrawart.com. “Most people are told from an early age that they’re angels, but the reality is everyone has dark thoughts, desires, and skeletons in their closet”. He says this work reflects the struggle with one’s acceptance of being human and the feelings in that first moment after falling into human desire. Other of his works reflect the realization that “we are all entitled to make mistakes, because we are human” and show an almost joyful self-acceptance of learning and growing within ourselves.
Thiessen feels that his art is continuing to develop and that his best works are yet to come.