In Goad they trust

Artist’s work ranges from Hot Wheels to album covers

 By Tim Anderl
 Photos: three designs for Galactic Files sketch cards for Topps showing Star Wars characters Darth Vader, Boba Fett and R2-D2 from 2012

When local artist and illustrator Jason Goad found himself let go from his first commercial art job, he realized that the most challenging part of being an artist was taking and recovering from hits during the mental game. Lucky for us, Goad is as tough and as resilient as he is talented.  This persistence paid off and today Goad’s work is sought out by customers as varied as Mattel, Sony, The Offspring, local rockers robthebank and Juxtapoz to name a few.

Dayton City Paper talked to Goad about his pursuit of this career, his inspiration, and his customers.  This is what he said …

You knew from a relatively early age that you’d be pursuing art as a career field and pursued your education at the Columbus College of Art and Design. How did that prepare you to launch your career as a freelance artist?

I graduated from CCAD in 1996, before the Internet and using a website to promote your work was as prevalent as it is now. I learned a lot about the creation of art and how to best bring my ideas to reality, but when I emerged from college I kind of hit a wall, mainly because I didn’t possess the funds to do what the teachers there were telling us – create about 500 portfolios for people you wanted to work for and start sending them out, via snail mail no less.

During this time, I moved back and forth between Dayton and Columbus and in 2001, while working for an art manufacturing company in Columbus, was fired for being “incompatible” with the type of work they did – sign making and commercial art fabrication. I dusted myself off and decided it was now or never if I was ever going to have a shot at being a freelance artist. I would spend hours a day emailing companies I wanted to do work for. A lot of rejection ensued.

My “break” was sending a packet of materials to Tattoo magazine, which led to an article that not only dealt with tattoos but also showcased artists whose work was in that same vein. That, in turn, led to working on rock posters with Drowning Creek, out of Georgia, which led to doing work for Mattel creating graphics for Hot Wheels, Sony creating illustrations for an Offspring album (2008’s Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace), Icon Motorsports working on helmet graphics, etc.  –Jason Goad

Where does your inspiration typically come from? How do your ideas take root?

It depends. In regards to doing rock posters, a lot of times I’ll research a band if I’m not familiar with them, listen to their most recent album or read lyrics to some of their songs to see if any imagery pops into my head. Sometimes, ideas come to me like a lightning bolt and other times I feel like I’m banging my head against a wall. For instance, there’s a Chris Isaak poster I worked on that for days I aimlessly drew in my sketchbook trying to figure out an idea. I also do a lot of word association in my head and I just kept thinking how my favorite album of his was Forever Blue (from 1995, I believe). Then I started focusing on the word “blue” and my art school history training kicked in.  I remembered that Picasso’s Blue Period was ushered in with the painting “The Old Guitarist” and given how Chris Isaak has such an iconic guitar with his name emblazoned on it, it just seemed like a perfect fit. -JG

Over the years you’ve done work for Topps, Mattel, Sony and more. Which of your jobs have been most personally satisfying? 

I would say the most satisfying job is when you are approached to do work and you can tell the person or company isn’t coming to you just because you can draw, but because they like what you can specifically bring to the project. Or they give you free rein and have faith in your abilities.

One of the most enjoyable things I worked on recently was the album art for robthebank, a local band. I was approached by their drummer and given some ideas for imagery and song lyrics for their upcoming album. So I had fun, not feeling the usual pressure I put on myself to make every little line perfect and could get really outlandish with the colors. I also would print the art out and do different things to rough it up including driving over it with my truck and letting my cat jump around on it. It is things like that that remind me of being a kid and the simple joy of creating stuff.  -JG

Where can Daytonians see your art locally?

I’m currently working on pieces for a solo show at Clash Consignments this June. My plan for the show is to create a lot of smaller, more affordable work to sell as well as some art prints and other merchandise. People don’t always have $400-$1,000 to plunk down on a large painting, but something ranging between $20 for art prints or $100 for a small piece of art is reasonable. But the name of the show is Illustrate or Die, with the opening during the First Friday Art Hop on June 7. -JG

To find out more about the work of Jason Goad, visit


Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Anderl at


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