We had the good fortune of connecting with Johnny Otto and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Johnny, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Risk is everything. You have zero percent chance of reaching any level of success without risk. I always think about great Quarter Backs who take risks when they throw the football knowing that someone on the defense might intercept it. And it happens even to the best of them. It’s part of the game. Risk is part of success. The risks I take have more to do with my time than anything else. I put a long of time into my creative endeavors and sometimes the pay off is absolutely nothing. Other times the payoff is getting a film accepted into a film festival or selling a script. Most Writers have dozens of unsold scripts, for example. I certainly do. I have sooooooooooo many projects that I’ve devoted sooooooo many years to and some of them will see the light of day and some won’t. That’s the gamble you take when you’re a creative person. I also paint and some of my works have sold for a great deal of money and some won’t sell for years and maybe never. You can’t get hurt by it and give up. Risk is key to success. I risk my time all the time.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am primarily known as a Painter but recently I’ve turned to also creating animation. I’ve produced animation in the past but I was always the Writer/Director and never the Character Designer or Animator. A few months ago I decided that I wanted to created my own animated series and do everything on my own. So I sat down and started drawing and realized that I wasn’t half bad. I definitely think that I have my own style. For the last few months I’ve been creating this series called “Zombies, Whatever” and I am currently shopping it around hoping to get a deal with Adult Swim or SYFY channel’s TZGZ show. The biggest challenge for me was just believing in myself and sitting down and doing the work. Pushing myself to my limits. Not giving up. I am proud to say that I’ve created three episodes and they turned out really funny. I am so happy that I pushed myself and never gave up. I think that’s the biggest lesson, if you will. Never quit. I’ve been in Hollywood for 30 years and I never quit. Even when faced with great, soul crushing disappointments, and, believe me, I’ve had some doozies, I hung in and did the work.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Sadly, some of my favorite places have closed. I’d say, let’s take a road trip to Big Sur. Get out in nature. Even a picnic at Franklin Canyon can be so refreshing. Whenever I take breaks from work now, they have to be breaks from the city. I need nature more and more as I get older. Camping would be a great idea. Camping on the beach and bringing our own food and wine. Something like that. I’d also have to hit up any museums, if they are open. The Broad is a good one. MOCA. LACMA. Not sure if any thing is open, though. I think just grab a joint and head out into nature.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My biggest influence is no longer with us and that was my dad. He taught me more that I ever learned in school. He took to me museums, and took me to countless films. You had a pretty decent library in our basement that had a wide assortment of books on Art, Science and History and I would spend countless hours reading them. He also took be to football games and we would talk for hours afterward. Most of my life I’ve thought that perhaps the path I’ve chosen was a mistake. I still think that sometimes. Then, I saw this interview with Henry Rollins on Joe Rogan’s Podcast and I realized how many similarities I have with the guy. He’s a loner like me. Rather be working that socializing. And I started to realize that maybe I’m okay after all. I just have a different path and a different destiny than most. So, recently, he’s been a big influence, not on my work, but on the way I work and the way I look at my life and solitude. I’d also love to give a shout out to Jeff Hamilton who believed in me and my art and gave me the opportunity to showcase my work a few years ago, It happened at a time and place in my life when I really needed it. I really needed my art to rescue my soul and he gave me a lot of hope when I needed it the most.