Double Identity: Art by Billy Tokyo & John Dempsey

Billy Tokyo is the alter ego of artist John Dempsey, who created the alias in 2008 while on commission to do illustrations for the Chicago Cubs. Tokyo’s Japanese pop art influenced works are psychedelic, calibrated for visual overload.  He also creates art as Dempsey. Elmhurst Art Museum is exhibiting works by both this artist’s identities.  (Above: Tokyo’s Girl with the Golden Lips, oil paint, gold leaf, spray paint on linen, & embellished paper on wood)

-A Dempsey work: the prize-winning Great American Landscape

Concerned with being pigeonholed in the world of commercial art, Dempsey created Tokyo to make artwork for festivals like Lollapalooza and SXSW.  “Commentary on contemporary culture and capitalism abound in my artwork, in which I attempt to skewer stereotypes with ample wit and humor,” he says.

-Dempsey’s Over the Underpass

-Installation view, Elmhurst Art Museum

-Tokyo’s Angel of Boutique Shopping, left, and Totem Pole of Consummate Love

Dempsey earned his BFA from Ohio University. He has worked as a designer and artist for numerous clients and television shows and now is a full-time artist. Dempsey’s “The Great American Landscape” won first place in Chicago’s 2010 Art Loop Open. John Dempsey’s website, here. Billy Tokyo’s website, here.

10 replies »

  1. Wonderful. He’s so talented.

    p.s.: Seems like there’s a typo in the post’s title. I thought his first name is John Dempsey not Jack Dempsey. CMIIW.


    • Thank you. (I should have made clear he goes by both names, Jack and John. Would have probably been better if I’d just picked one or the other for the post – so I’ve just changed the title, appreciated)


  2. Different styles under by an alter ego of the same artist! Brilliant! Looooove it! I saw the show – the artist has a style that is energetic and whimsical! His artwork and compositions allows you escape to a wonderland for a while! Mr. Tokyo, or Mr. Dempsey, is way talented.


  3. I love the artistic approach of separating two different artistic styles into two identities, much the same way a recording artist can make different styles of music for different “bands.”

    Also, I love both styles! They’re really contemporary without becoming inaccessible or cartoonish. I see he has separate websites for each identity and they’re both great.


    • Agree. And it’s fascinating that the art museum has actually mounted simultaneous exhibitions in the same space, by the same artist, but separated into work by Tokyo, and work by Dempsey.


What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s