Artist Profile: Justin Ransburg
Justin Ransburg isn't afraid to ask the questions that lead to creative new ideas. And in his particular case, his profession and passion.
An imaginative comic, manga, and pop culture artist in Jackson, Ransburg became seriously interested in pursuing art after asking his older brother, Maurice Williams, to draw him a picture. Williams, a graphic design student at Hinds Community College at the time, pretty much refused, leaving the illustrating up to Justin.
"I was like, you know what? Just go do it yourself," Ransburg said.
Williams ended up helping to critique the drawing, telling him which lines could've been better, and so on. "As older brothers do," Ransburg laughs. From there, he found friends at school that helped shape his love of character art, drawing inspiration from Dragonball Z and other popular Japanese manga and animation.
Ransburg's talent allowed him to travel to Houston, Texas, and pursue a Fine Arts major with an emphasis in painting at Texas Southern University. Even with the Bayou City's many cultural hotspots, he felt the pull to come back home and contribute to the arts scene in his hometown of Jackson.
Fast forward a couple of years in 2016, and Ransburg was finishing up a working stint with the Mississippi Museum of Art in downtown Jackson when he realized he wanted to take his artistry full time.
Working at a desk is not for me, so I'm going to go all the way on art. Justin Ransburg
Around the same time, he reconnected with artist and sculpturist Sam Clark at an exhibition for the Portico Artist Rising show at The Cedars. The two talked about needing a drawing session together and quickly realized they could loop in other artists from all different skill sets and backgrounds as a group hangout. They decided to meet on a Thursday at The Bean (formerly Sneaky Beans) and ended up having to relocate to the backroom of the cottage-like coffee shop when almost ten people showed up, eager to draw.
From then on and several locations later, Ransburg and Clarke officially formed the JXN Drawing Club to share techniques, improve ideas, collaborate, and promote creativity with both beginning and advanced artists. Despite the pandemic, the club is open to anyone and has continued to meet online through Discord. Ransburg says they are slowly (and excitedly) working their way back into in-person gatherings.
Through the drawing club, Ransburg has recently leaned into another talent: teaching. "For a long time, teaching was something I kind of wanted to run away from. I know that I can explain things well enough for children and adults to understand. But I never really wanted to be stuck every day at a school, that kind of situation. So, I've basically avoided it. But people have seen, I guess, a side of me that I just didn't want to admit that I was good at," Justin said.
Last year, Ransburg accepted a position with 601 Studios, a music and arts academy off Lakeland Drive in Jackson. He's now teaching drawing classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays and loves the challenge of thinking through how to share his craft with pupils, from comic character dynamics to speech bubbles.
"When I was offered to teach, it was a surprise, but also a challenge where it's like, okay, you know these things, but can you explain them? You've done them, but can you do them in a way that's easy for someone else to understand? So I said, 'All right, I can draw. I'll try it. I'll teach."
To check out Ransburg's artwork and be in touch about his teaching services, check out his official site and social media channels.