Badassery – Jonathan Maniaci

Every month we celebrate someone doing amazing things.

This month we’d like to introduce you to the badass human who is Jonathan Maniaci. His artwork is rooted in reverence of our ancestors and brings to life the power of our animal spirits.

Are you a classically trained artist or self-taught? When did you first pick up a paintbrush? 

I am self-taught and constantly learning. I have always had an interest in creating. I tried to take classes in middle school and high school that I could be creative in when possible. However the structure, and being told what to make, made it difficult for me to maintain interest. I have painted here and there in my 20s and lost touch. My interest was re-sparked when I came across Brittney Monster’s artwork. It was soul-filled and the subject matter resonated with me. I couldn’t afford to fill my home with her art so I tried to paint things I liked. At that time I discovered the medicine in art. Since then I have grabbed on for dear life. 

What inspires your designs? What drew you to this particular medium (rather than say watercolors or sculpture)?

My designs are nature based with a focus on shapes and animals. Living in the Bay Area it’s easy to get caught up in the busy world. I’ve found that the world we have strayed from is looking in at us.

I prefer acrylic paint because of its characteristics such as drying times and its ability to work with many surfaces. I also like to work with resin, metal, and wood. Really the sky’s the limit.


Many of your paintings are done on traditional canvas, but you also like to paint on wooden boxes. Could you explain this choice? What is important about this vessel?

I started on Canvas because it is traditional. My mother could see me struggling to find peace and purchased me a 4×4” canvas which I neglected for over a year. I finally out of desperation used it to paint an owl. After a while I discovered I prefer to paint on wood panels because part of my painting involves detail. The cigar boxes are really a divine gift. A friend offered them to me. Who doesn’t enjoy a good box? Tobacco has been a sacred plant for centuries. It really just made sense, and at that time I was learning about ancient traditions.

Do you resonate with the spiritual meaning behind each animal? Could you share a few of your favorites and why they are special to you?

Each animal I paint is an animal I feel and envision long before it is applied to canvas. I try to listen to the earth and what it’s trying to show me. I have had a reoccurring experience with owls, wolves and cats. Most recently a lot of raven activity. However, we are all constantly changing and growing. The lesson from some animals you learn and move forward. They may come back to you to remind you. Some lessons are for a lifetime. These animals reach out to all of us. We are either listening or are we talking over them.


You give reverence to the ancient ways and traditions. Why is it important to honor these practices? What knowledge do you hope to pass to future generations through your artwork?

Long before we changed the direction of daily life we were one with the earth. We had a relationship, a partnership. The earth took care of us, as we take care of her. To receive, we gave. I feel selfless and giving seems to be lost in a business world. Traditions of sacrifice, appreciation have disintegrated. It’s essential to slow down and focus on spiritual growth. My hope is that the artwork I create embodies that love and respect for nature. In a world of concrete it’s a window into what we lost. Waiting for us to remember.

How old were you when your study of animals, nature and plant medicine began? Has it always been a way of life?

My relationship with plants, animals, and nature has been a lifetime journey. I have always been around animals, always tried to recreate environments for pets I had as a child. Studying what makes animals comfortable and able to be themselves. Very important with raising birds. They are easily stressed so I believe I was essentially trained by these finches I though I was training. Trained to listen, observe. My first job was at a dog kennel. Meeting many dogs and trying to read them was  a journey. My father is also very animal oriented and I believe he also influenced my respect. 


If you had to choose only one animal for 2020 which animal would it be and why? What wisdom do you think this animal has to share with us?

The Beaver! Bringing Resourceful with great determination. I believe in these times we all could use those qualities. Beaver is also creative and artistic which I can relate to. We all must come together to build for our future. These are unprecedented times which require being resourceful to survive.

I noticed that you currently work at Speeds of Sound Performance which is related to cars. Quite a departure from your artwork! Are the two practices in any way related? Do you wish to pursue your artistic endeavors full time or do you like the balance of the two?

My trade to survive in society is Auto Repair. My niche in that field is custom and fabrication so I am able to use creativity most days. We modify and build custom cars. Lots of history as well with the cars we work with. The shop space I use for cars is also a creative outlet for me. I can make a mess here that my home doesn’t support so I believe it has helped with my creativity and ability to grow and try new things. I am open to being wherever and whatever divine power needs me to be. I don’t wish to be anything more than free and maintain the ability to create no matter what that looks like. 

It’s hard to balance the two because when I get focused on a painting or creating something it’s hard to put it down. However, I have been learning to be patient through that. 



How did you meet Kim and Magic Fairy Candles? Why do you love her and/or her products?

I met Kim through other artists and friends. Kim’s warm and positive spirit is very easy to appreciate and gravitate to. We share similar views and appreciations for life. Her products are the result of very real care and love. Each of her creations comes from the heart. You can tell in quality and craftsmanship, as well as the details and thought put into them. I have learned a lot from her even in the short time we have known each other and I feel blessed to have been put into her path. Kim and the staff are instrumental to my growth as an artist recently and I couldn’t be more appreciative. 

You can connect with Jonathan on Instagram @JDAppleseed. If you are interested in purchasing any of his artwork please contact us at

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