For John Stango, a Tyler School of Art alumnus, Temple had a huge impact on his work, both inside and outside of the classroom.
“Temple really changed my perspective looking at art and what kind of art I wanted to do,” Stango said.
Stango is a well-known name at Temple, in addition to donating a “Temple T” painting hung up on the second floor of the Student Center, he donates various portions of what he makes selling his paintings back to the university.
Stango has developed a unique urban or street pop style, which incorporates silkscreen work, bright paintings, advertisements and pop culture figures. He enjoys mixing the modern with the retro and displaying the juxtaposition of old and new in his art. His subjects are mainly pop culture figures, including famous icons like Superman and Marilyn Monroe.
“I haven’t had to do a painting of Donald Trump yet, thank god,” Stango said.
Stango never planned on being an artist and was originally going to school to be a writer. But after discovering his knack for art and sending in an application to Tyler, everything changed for Stango, who was amazed he even got accepted.
Before he developed his own art style, Stango initially thought his drawings were boring to look at.
“I would show someone my drawing and then pass a pillow with it,” Stango said.
It was at Tyler where Stango, influenced by the school, city and punk scene of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, really discovered pop art.
“Temple forces culture down your throat, and it’s a great thing,” Stango said. “The city has had a major influence on me. I love Philly—Philly is in my blood.”
Stango’s artwork, along with his outgoing personality, made him stand out among other Tyler students.
“Most of the students at Tyler were more quiet and reserved—but not John,” said Joe Scorsone, a professor at Tyler.
Scorsone remembers Stango as being outspoken, fun and sometimes a little outrageous.
Following art school, Stango began his career as a disc jockey and a T-shirt designer. His graphic tees eventually made it into some major department stores like Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s. After some time realizing the difficulties of producing clothing out of his mom’s basement, he wanted to return to paper and canvas.
“I consider myself America’s artist,” Stango said. “I just wish America would consider me their artist.”
He believes Temple really changed his life, and Tyler made him feel “like a somebody.” Stango hopes that through his paintings and his donations, he can help someone else have that same experience.
“I like to give back to Tyler School of Art because if I can help someone graduate or get into art school like me, then it’s a great thing,” Stango said. “I do feel good about it, you know.”
Olivia Zarzycki can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.