Eric Joyner grew up in San Mateo, California in the 1970s. Like many kids of that time, he enjoyed reading comics, playing sports, and making gunpowder … wait. Gunpowder? Oh, that’s right. At some point in his very young life, someone took Joyner to view an exhibition of Van Gogh’s paintings at the De Young museum in San Francisco. This experience greatly impressed the child, and he soon began taking painting lessons with his older sister. By the time he was in the first grade, classmates and teachers started to notice the compelling work he was creating, and the life of an artist began to take its shape.
After high school, Joyner attended the Academy of Art in San Francisco. Later, under the influential teaching of Francis Livingston, Kazuhiko Sano, Bill Sanchez, and Robert Hunt, his work greatly improved and he began to work professionally as an artist. For the next decade, Joyner was a hired-gun for various publishers, high-tech companies, and advertising agencies; he also was a digital animator and provided other artistic services for a variety of companies before rediscovering his original love of drawing and painting and returning to that medium.
In 1999, he began entering his paintings into various juried shows in the Bay Area and his efforts were well received. That inspired him to focus his paintings only on subjects he truly enjoyed painting–urban San Francisco landscapes, Mexican masks, cartoon characters, and Japanese toy robots. Eventually, the majority of his focus shifted to the robots, and he began to place them in settings more appropriate to their nature, namely outer space.
It wasn’t until 2002 that Joyner realized something was missing from his paintings, that his lusciously rendered protagonists might need something to contend with … perhaps a nemesis. Shortly thereafter, while watching the movie Pleasantville, in which Jeff Daniels’ character paints a still life of donuts, Joyner’s ultimate vision took shape. With thoughts of donut inventor Wayne Thiebald’s miraculous pastries always close at hand, it wasn’t difficult for Joyner to envision a battle scene of robots retreating from 300 foot-tall donuts. The rest, as they say, is history.
In 2008, the book Robots and Donuts: The Art of Eric Joyner was first published. It introduced audiences of all ages to Joyner’s pop surrealist paintings where robots and donuts converge. Since this time, Joyner’s art has attracted legions of devoted fans. His paintings have been featured in various Nickelodeon and Disney shows; the television sitcom The Big Bang Theory; and the cover of Ben Fold’s Five reunion CD, The Sound of the Life of the Mind. His art was recently published in Christie’s Paris Avril 2014: Bande Dessinee et Illustration.