Jonah Roll was born and raised on a forty-five foot sailboat, The Flying Walrus, in Honolulu, Hawaii. His father was a photographer and his mother a painter. During his formative years on the boat he was surrounded by the beauty of the ocean, a culture of sailors, liveaboards, and anchor-outs living in the Alawai harbor. When Roll was twelve, his family moved to the Big Island, where his father built a house in the mountains. These years of living on the edge of the rainforest connected him to mythology and the natural world of Hawaii.
At the age of 15 Roll was sent to help a family friend deliver a boat to Costa Rica, this trip took him down the Mexican coast line and through Central America. On this voyage he started keeping journals, sketching, drawing, and painting of his adventures. In 1989, he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in printmaking from the Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, Oregon. The studding of fine printmaking enabled him to create editions of his paintings.
Roll enjoys sharing his art with others and teaching adults and children painting, drawing, and boat building. Influenced by his watery beginnings and his love for nautical lore, his art takes the viewer on a journey to surreal destinations, suffused with imagery embedded in an original and stylized reality.
Roll has created artwork for the public and many of his pieces are included in private collections. His work has been exhibited in Hawaii, Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Washington D.C., Sausalito and New York.
Jonah lives and paints at Project Artaud, a non-profit artist community, in San Francisco’s Mission. He also is the builder of the Ark, a Floating Art studio, that is breathed in Mission Creek Harbor.