Jack Johnston holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from BYU. Fine arts and marketing were his passion, he quickly became known for his clear understanding and ability in promotion, advertising and marketing. He spent the first 20 years of his professional career as an executive in marketing. His last opportunity in promoting was as the Vice President of Marketing for Sea World in Orlando, Florida. When the Gulf war escalated in 1990, Jack found himself out of work. With six children at home he had no choice but to find a stable income and to find it fast. There were no executive positions available; the war had caused a recession and the good jobs had all dried up. Someone said, you have an option of being unemployed or self employed, he chose the later. He would fall back on his education and love for the arts. It was December of that year and his wife wanted a one-of-a-kind Santa Claus doll for Christmas. Money was tight so he decided to sculpt one; his effort worked. The Santa was pretty good, and everyone seemed to like it. So he took a Santa to a local craft show just to test the water. The Santa was well received, he sold eight at the first show for $179.99 each. He learned two things at the show: first there was a market for his dolls and second he had priced them far too low. The following week he did his second show. He sold ten at that show and raised his prices to $295.00 each. Within a month he raised his prices to $499.00 each and set up a small staff to help him make the dolls. He had his boys making the armatures for the bodies and the hands, his wife made the costumes and he spent 12 hours a day sculpting the heads, hands and feet. In the first year they made and sold 214 dolls. Jack was a hit. The first article published about him was in the Orlando Magazine, the article was entitled “Recession is the Mother of Creation”. Other magazines and even PBS television picked up the story, the VP of Marketing for SeaWorld is now making dolls for a living. When the going gets tough, the tough start making dolls. PBS filmed a 30 minute special on his instant jump to fame. People were calling asking him to teach them how to make dolls and he couldn’t keep a doll on the shelf. It was clear, Jack Johnston was to spend the rest of his life as a doll maker.
It was obvious to him that if he wanted to make a good living at doll making that he would have to market to the masses. Making one-of-a-kind dolls was creatively rewarding but provided a limited income. He took a week away from doll making and took advantage of his 20 year experience as a marketer. He wrote a business and marketing plan. The plan consisted of teaching, reproductions, books, films, distributors across America, attending major doll shows and forming a Guild of artists. Over the next year he accomplished everything on his list. He produced three films on how to make dolls, wrote his first book, founded the Professional Doll Makers Art Guild, contracted with Bell Ceramics to reproduce molds of his work and attended the Toy Fair in New York City.
To make a very long story very short, over the next quarter of a century Jack wrote six books and produced 15 educational films. The Guild has grown to be the most successful professional doll makers guild in the nation. He founded the ProSculpt Polymer Clay Company and Johnston Original Artdoll Company. The prices of his dolls went as high as $30,000 for one doll. That doll (Norman Rockwell’s Triple Self portrait) was sold to Franklin Mint. They reproduced it and sold over three million dollars worth of his classic sculpture of Mr. Rockwell. In 2008 he received the Crystal Award for his industry leadership and in 2014 he received the highest award offered in the doll industry, The Lifetime Achievement Award.
Mr. Johnston said, "Over the past two and one half decades I have learned many things to do when making artdolls, I’ve also learned many things not to do. I’ll likely spend the rest of my life teaching others the methods that I’ve spent a lifetime learning and protecting. That will be my legacy and gift to the industry that has taken such great care of me and my family throughout my career."
"In a very few years, Jack Johnston, professional marketer turned dollmaker, rose from an unknown to one of the industry’s brightest stars, astonishing doll artists and collectors worldwide with his nearly instantaneous success. His talent and artistic ability transcend every aspect of dollmaking. Jack also possesses the unique ability to pass on to others completely and successfully that which he has mastered." Dolls Magazine.
Jack began his career in Fine Art when he was sixteen. He sculpted a life scale self portrait of himself as an art student at Dodge City High School in Dodge City, Kansas.