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High Artist Spotlight: Rhett Johnston

High Artist Spotlight: Rhett Johnston

Rhett Johnston is an artist who paints from the heart, approaching each piece with a clear mind and a focused intention that allows the present moment to come alive through the pigment he applies to his canvas.

He entered High Art 2017 with a number of his intricate and creative pieces.

From an early age, Rhett kept himself busy drawing pictures at his family’s kitchen table. More interested in comics than toys, he became immersed in the visual world, and creating art became an obsession. As he grew older, his interest turned to writing graffiti, heeding the call of the isolated freight trains on the edge of his Alabama town. After experimenting with a few different names, Rhett landed on DES10–sending a message to everyone that creating art was something he was destined to do. Eventually, Rhett moved west to California in 2009 and currently resides in West Sonoma County.



With the the idyllic backdrop of the redwood forest surrounding him, he leads a peaceful existence that allows his creativity to unfold with each passing day. Rhett’s formal training in drafting and design and the meticulous attention to detail that those two disciplines require has resulted in a pleasing dialectic between order and chaos that is evident throughout his wildly spontaneous and conceptual paintings. His work has been on display at San Francisco’s 111 Minna Gallery, Denver’s Knew Conscious Gallery, and Ukiah-based Tribe 13 Gallery.

He has collaborated with many artists, such as Graham Nelson, Musashi Thoth, David Hale, and Casey Swanson to name a few. He is also a founding member of the Bay Area-based artist collective, Articin. In addition to formal showings and collaborations, Rhett has painted live on stage with a number of musical acts, including STS9, Umphreys McGee, LTJ Bukem, BassNectar, Bonobo, and Dubconscious, and with many more musicians at festivals such as Symbiosis, Raindance, Earth Dance, and Gem and Jam. It’s also common to see him around various Bay Area venues, adding his unique visual aesthetic to countless electronic music events.

Drawn to painting as a deeply meditative and contemplative act, Rhett focuses his attention inward while he works, seeking to bring forth the landscape of his current mindset rather than rely on external forces reality for inspiration. He always seeks to take his artistic journey to the next step and is deeply grateful to his practice for providing him with a sense of peace and wonderment within his world.