David Niari

Official Website of David Niari Fine Art


Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

I’m a creative.

I draw. I design. I illustrate.

I challenge myself with crazy ideas. I pray…

I am an artist.

I draw that I might also draw something out of you.

david niari

I’m part city-slicker, CheeseHead, and a bit sheltered, all at the same time. Seems in every way, my simple upbringing worked to my artistic benefit. My suburban public education was a majestic blessing in that my schools could afford to feed its hungry artists – and well. And since kindergarten, I’ve unabashedly devoured construction paper on projects and drawings every chance I got, and the teachers loved it! They offered space- and I drew on it! I think it was a fair trade because I truly cherished every sheet and they loved the idea that there jobs were actually making a difference. They were. Yeah… I recall them emerging from kid-restricted corridors with extra large sheets of pure white, cardboard paper and half-way spoil on myself thinking about the dramatic Spider-Man pose I would etch out  – providing, the endless supply of government funded, crayons and markers!

It was something about blank paper that was magic to me. On it, I could create whatever I wanted: a fascinating idea, I thought. Overtime, there was hardly a book in our house that I had not torn away its untarnished introductory and closing pages to concoct my newest sketch idea. (I didn’t become interested in actually reading books until high school.) Funny, I wasn’t even aware of actual art supply stores. Plus, the now ever-present white printer paper had not yet even been invented – so in an alternate way, books became my “crack”.

My older brothers were artistic masters, as far as I was concerned, and so I naturally followed suit and mimicked there every move, drawing everything from monster-fast super cars to alien-like, man-eating dinosaurs. Together with three close brothers (the younger generation we like to say) we encouraged our fanciful imaginations, all helping to make arts and crafts our own personal sunshine. Exciting were the rainy days that kept us in our rooms “scheming ” or worlds away in our large basement skating endlessly to Sugar Hill’s “Rapper’s Delight” – and any music that “bumped” out the speakers of our school donated record player- yeah the kind with the single, front speaker! Even wall-to-wall blanket cities were magically erected and that serious hunt for a “virgin” book was always inevitable. Even as an adult I find myself smiling when I wake to a dark and cloudy Saturday morning, knowing that a day inside will find great use.

My artwork stems from long, bubbling ideas that eventually work their way to the surface. I’m inspired by art that expects me to participate in decoding its origins, as well as its meaning, so I offer the same to those that view my work. Join me. I start with pencil sketches and move forward in whatever medium the work screams. But its usually pencils. I love them because I can control the fine detail. I choose my subjects (divinely?) but would love to offer a series one day. So stayed tuned, if you will.

The message will always be about love.

I take advantage of and enjoy the artistic freedoms afforded the term “artist” and express myself accordingly, and in more ways than in pencil. Compelled to do what many artists do – I dabble – a lil bit of this and a lil bit of that – I’m still figuring out which aesthetic I need to master, as I adore mediums ranging from motion picture digital effects to modeling electric train landscapes.

Well… Years back and under the influence of some heavy soul searching, I was inspired with a rediscovery of Malcolm X’s autobiography and crudely recorded speeches. Enthused by his individualism, I also decided to give myself a new last name; but more so, to distinguish myself from the millions of David Johnson’s that shared the title. For some reason I wanted to create a single me or am still hoping to do so. But what’s in a name, right?

I share a deep love for music, most times I’m whistling old melodies I’d written or rehashing lyrics rather than sketching out my magnum opus, but I make it work. Or oftentimes I find myself daydreaming I’m some action star in a screenplay I have been slowly gathering for several years. However, I remain focused enough to pull together works in spurts of pure energy and literally dance from storyboard to keyboard, to drawing table and back to screenplay all in the same thought. Lord help me.

I also love to read. Biographies and history books have always had me. When I read James Baldwin’s biography I was amazed at all the works he had began but never completed. I wondered at all the crazy stories he had yet to tell and was saddened at the realization that they would never be told -as he’d present them. I grasped then that artists are full of ideas, many of them never realized, understanding too, that life isn’t long or even fair enough to finish the so many thoughts of our ingenuous individual mind. I concluded, one should offer what they will, while they can.

So, I’m hoping to inspire you with my every artistic contribution. So cheers (big up) to every artist who loves to work, and re-work the work!

But like many of us, I just strive to make a difference even if it’s just helping to carry home groceries for the elderly Haitian lady that lives on my block. Every little bit helps. And I think God would really like that.


David lives in Evanston, IL. Born in Kenosha, WI, he is the 11th child of Luddie and Diane Johnson’s big family (12 boys, 6 girls- no twins). Currently, he is not so aggressively working on completing his BFA but has every intention of one day pulling that silly rabbit out its hat!


Private Collection

John Bullen Middle School, Kenosha, WI

Mary D. Bradford Senior High School, Kenosha WI



School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL

Columbia College, Chicago, IL


Recent Exhibits:

Northwestern University, African-American artists exhibition, Evanston, IL

Black Creativity, Museum of Science & Industry, Chicago, IL, 2005

Black Creativity, Museum of Science & Industry, Chicago, IL, 2008

Black Creativity, Museum of Science & Industry, Chicago, IL, 2010

Gallery Guichard, Chicago IL, Group showings & multiple exhibitions, various locations, 2010-2012

Russell Simmon’s Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series, Group exhibit, Chicago, IL 2010

Black Creativity, Museum of Science & Industry, Chicago, IL, 2011

DuSable Museum of African-American History, Group exhibit, Chicago, IL, 2012

Young & Rubicam Advertising Agency, Chicago, IL, Solo Exhibition, 2013

Black Creativity, Museum of Science & Industry, Chicago, IL, 2014