Joni Johnson-Godsy grew up in Ashland Ohio. Her love of animals started from her first memories as a child and was a passion that grew even stronger over time. In her youth she spent countless hours exploring the creeks and woods near her family’s home watching the wildlife that was typical in that part of the Midwest. Her curiosity about nature and love of the outdoors was inexhaustible.
Joni studied fine art at Ohio State University and went on to art school at the Art Institute of Pittsburg, PA where she graduated with honors. Upon graduation she secured a position as greeting card illustrator with Hallmark Cards Inc. which required a re-location to the Kansas City area.
During her early years at Hallmark, Joni focused her spare time on her love of dogs. She trained her own dogs (a Sheltie and Border Collies) for obedience, conformation and tracking trials hosted by the AKC (American Kennel Club). The art she did outside of her work at Hallmark reflected this love of dogs and won awards at numerous national art competitions, drawing the attention of the American Kennel Club who hired her to illustrate dogs for their magazine the AKC Gazette.
Joni created illustrations for Hallmark Cards for twenty one years, having her work published and sold on Hallmark product in North America and Europe. As time passed, her artistic focus made the inevitable change to that of wildlife. In 2001 she decided that the time had come to dedicate her energies toward her passion for art and nature. She became a part-time employee at Hallmark, dividing her time between two very different artistic disciplines. Her wildlife paintings garnered immediate attention from national exhibitions and collectors and it became apparent that a full-time effort was needed to pursue this endeavor. Joni left Hallmark in the summer of 2006 to give her full attention to wildlife painting.
Joni has traveled the world to gather reference materials for her paintings. In May of 2004 she and her husband Alan spent four weeks in southern Africa on photographic safari, traveling in the countries of Zambia, Botswana, and South Africa. It was a lifelong dream for Joni to see the great creatures of Africa living as they were meant to live in the wild. This trip has resulted in many paintings by which she hopes to stir the imaginations of anyone who dreams of that great land and shares her passion for it.
Conservation is the driving force behind all that motivates Joni as she paints. “The world is changing so rapidly. In this highly technological world, I believe that each of us still has a hard-wired need to understand from where it is we once came. But for some of us it lies a little closer to the surface than for others. I see a new wisdom arising within us. We are awakening from a great slumber of ignorance, and are beginning to realize that we are indeed the keepers of this world we live in. There are more conservation groups, more people supporting them, and more and more people taking an active role in what they now realize is a valuable asset to our kind. If my paintings can in any way help people enjoy nature and keep it in the forefront of their minds, I will have been a small part of this shift in human consciousness. That is what my paintings are all about”.