I am sitting cross-legged on a barstool at my kitchen counter, pen in hand, staring at an empty pad of paper, listening to the sound of a pair of Nikes squeaking back and forth across my kitchen floor. John Revisky is pacing. The skin around his eyes has swollen to the size of golf balls and he believes he must have had an allergic reaction. I encourage him to relax and pour him a shot of MonaVie, an acai berry juice blend, which sparks discussion about whether or not this new trend is legit or cultish rubbish.
The first time I met John Revisky I was a new business owner of an up-and-coming Sarasota gallery. He arrived, along with a writer, to shoot a portrait of young artist Tim Jaeger, whom my ex-husband and I represented at the time. He was quiet, polite, and professional. He maintained his infectious smile throughout, which I have since realized is not unlike the grin of the Cheshire Cat.
It is easy to be in John’s presence. He has a genuine curiosity about people. If there is something about an individual that interests him, he doesn’t remain a stranger for very long.
Revisky is a difficult man to place in any type of social group or class, which is attractive, because, after all, aren’t we all the same, anyway? John makes social strata and class differences a lie. After speaking with him, there is really no way to determine financial status, class, education level, political or religious views. He fits wherever he is, and with whomever he spends time with. He is as comfortable eating soul food in New Town as he is noshing on canapés in a five star restaurant. Also, maddeningly, this is a guy who can don the same Nike sweats and trademark ball cap for nearly a fortnight and still looks like a devoted stylist had their way with him. He epitomizes the modern minimalist, but in a way that invites you to join him, rather than mock him.
Obviously a visual man, music is a driving force in his life, and he will tell you that he has a soft spot his the sound of a piano. Elton John’s music and style floored him as a teenager (something we have in common), he is moved by the talent of Diana Krall, yet he is still mesmerized by Schubert’s Piano Trio in E-Flat. Although he has few regrets in his life, this is one of the them; he ponders his lack of musical training somewhat wistfully. There is no music now, though, just those swollen eyes, and we have a shot to get.
John Joseph Revisky was born on June 10th, 1965 in Okinawa, Japan, the son of an Air Force pilot father and homemaker mother. By his first birthday his family had moved back to the states and settled in Ojai, California, a small town just east of Santa Barbara, now home to the Ojai Film Festival. It’s a groovy little town with an arty, hippie vibe, and was teeming with other kids from Hollywood backgrounds, children of parents escaping the “plastic” atmosphere of Hollywood, children with names like Viva, Amore, and Sunshine. Those names tell the tale. It was the ‘70s with a vengeance.
Perversely, the majority of his schooling was anything but artsy or hippie. It was a Catholic, private boarding school, but with all the attendant imagery…Rococo, Baroque, full of naked winged people, all of it richly evocative.
When he was young, Revisky briefly aspired to become a plastic surgeon. Aesthetics were important to him even then, and the idea that he could control or manipulate the way something looked, intrigued him. Photography was a natural segue, with all the possibility of manipulation, without the blood.
It was during a European summer trip, properly chaperoned by Mr. Mouncer, where Revisky, armed with his old-school yellow underwater 110 camera, began to discover his love for photography. Often feeling lost in a crowd of academic overachievers. John’s skills were in a different direction, namely tennis and creating interesting images of his peers, which finally won him not just acceptance, but a certain acclaim.
Accepted into the Academy of Art in San Francisco, he discovered the SF music scene and a new passion. At the same time some of his friends were making it big in modeling and fashion, and this gave him entrée into an entirely new world in which his appetite for experiencing new things was ignited. By the time John arrived at the Art Institute in Seattle, which he was attending to learn the more technical side of his trade, the grunge movement was exploding. If San Francisco had been the match, the Pacific Northwest was the kerosene.
He was sent on art school assignments and dodged them often in favor of less dull pursuits. One he didn’t dodge turned out to be a shoot at the OK Hotel to photograph Courtney Love and her boyfriend’s hot up-and-coming new band. At 24, technical degree in hand and a raft of shoots with the biggest names in the music industry under his belt, John was seeing that the possibilities were limitless.
A couple of years after graduating, a call came from his dear friend Sarah Johnson proved to be another turning point. Johnson was a footwear designer for Prada. She needed John’s help, and he quickly found himself stepping off a plane at Milan’s Linate airport and catapulted directly into the midst of an elite operation with the crème de la crème of the fashion industry.
Maristella Becucci, one of the world’s most powerful bookers of that time, took a liking to Revisky and took him under her wing. Between Becucci and Prada, he was afforded the opportunity to experience how things were done in the world of fashion’s elite. His experience forced him to refine and to simplify, to appreciate quality over quantity, and it is there that he grew to understand the importance of “minimalismo.”
At some point even John needed a vacation from the fabulousness of the fashion world and he returned to the simplicity of the Northwest. As it happened to the Cheshire Cat, so it happened to Revisky, who was, again, at the right place, right time. A chance meeting with Gordon Thompson III, the then hot, young VP of research, design, and development at Nike, at a party in Oregon led him to his next dream job, building nike.com. Hiatus over. SF, Seattle, and Milan all combined in one perfect, synergistic movement. Nike was corporate rock and roll, it was fashion with street cred, it was, simply, larger than life. It was John all over.
As it goes in life, so it goes in business. Nothing lasts forever. Dotcoms were failing, budgets were cut, and in 2003 John took his severance and never looked back. With his parents retired and living in Florida, as well as his brother and cousins, it seemed like a natural step for Revisky to see what Florida had to offer.
Always craving new experiences, he migrated south with the goal of entering the editorial world.
One-hundred covers later, working with almost fifty different publications has led John towards an all-encompassing project with one main objective. Zero. Which leads us back to why we’re here.
“I think it’s working. I really think that stuff is working,” he announces, in reference to the juice. I note that his eyes are almost back to normal. He quickly gathers together some papers and his car keys. We hug and he’s off, quietly now, absent the squeaking shoes. And although I’m never quite sure where he’s heading, I’m sure he is.
At age 50, John Revisky is still in the right place, right time.
-- Tori Freeman Greene