J.D. Emmerson in Thailand


I, like millions on the planet, was born a natural artist with incredible gifts and an abundance of raw talent, with unlimited potential, right from the get go. I was drawing photo-realistically since the age of eight, and by ten, I began winning national art contest with hundreds of thousands of competitors. At the age of 19, I won a gold medal for my advanced airbrush skills with President Ronald Reagan awarding it to me on stage at the National Skills Olympics in Nashville, Tennessee. As the President handed me the gold medal, he leaned in closely and whispered, “Now Jeffrey, I want you to promise me that you will go out into the world and make a ‘commitment to excellence’ in everything you do.”

I spent over three decades as a very successful and well-seasoned Art Director in Hollywood, producing over 2,400 movie posters, album covers, DVD/CD art, created and designed hundred million dollar ad campaigns and a wealth of print ads and retail packaging in several different industries. My job had me working directly with celebrities and all types of movie stars on a regular basis. To relax, I have spent a great deal of time roaming all over Asia for the last 30 years and at least one or two trips a year.

For all of that wonderful time I had been suppressing a phenomenal event that took place in the mid-eighties, never speaking a word about it for over 40 years.

My near-death experience brought me face-to-face with my maker, so we talked. God gave me one simple choice, ”Stay with me now in the kingdom of heaven or return to your body and share your art with the world. It will be your purpose, your one and only true mission.” The entire incredible experience will be out and available in book form very soon, but there is something I must share. God led me back to my body and I regained consciousness, letting me play on this planet for several decades, traveling around, winning awards, working with celebrities, honing my abundant skills and having a blast doing it. I had forgotten all about my near-death experience until, at the age of 55, my life changed dramatically like a punch in the face by Mike Tyson. I simply told God that I was now ready for a change and did not care where he would put me. Only 24 hours later, I got a call from a marketing director who’s company wanted to hire me immediately after reviewing my LinkedIn page.

At age 55, I left Hollywood far behind, moving to the Bay area to become a Senior Graphic Designer for an extremely successful pharmaceutical company. It was at this point that I opened my modest little art studio and actually began painting abstract art, something that I was never capable of doing for my entire life. Something had changed in me profoundly and I began to get flashbacks to that near-death experience. Powerful images, emotions and sensations entered my mind, leaving me in tears most of the time. I began drawing spiritual and religious themed images and getting amazing reactions from people. I have now come full-circle by offering the planet my art. It is my passion, my purpose and my one and only true mission.

   “The visions that I am getting now turn into new pieces of art and the words I hear… I write them down, becoming prayers and words of inspiration for others.”

Special FX in the Mojave Desert 1987


My abstract art stems from the tremendously powerful near-death experience I had in Orlando, Florida at age 19, some 40 years ago, when I found myself trapped underwater. I was a victim of my own creation as I was performing a Houdini-like underwater escape of my own design and construction for the first time in front of a live audience, simply practice before the main performance at my local church the following Sunday. Everyone was completely oblivious to the deadly peril I was facing, just a few feet in front of them and behind a curtain. In one moment I felt the chilling water all around me, then the tightness of the padlocked straps around both ankles, waist, wrist and at my neck. It was shortly after this, one minute or so, that I found myself experiencing a completely different consciousness, completely unaware of my body, no sensations whatsoever and no vision or sound could I experience… more on this in my book.



To put things into better perspective, I became the youngest magician on the planet as a proud member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians. I was only 12 years old and had mastered the art of sleight-of-hand. I practiced night and day and read everything a young boy could get his hands on in 1974 on Harry Houdini, my idol. At the same time I was fascinated with magicians and yogis from the far East, so much so that I began practicing ancient yogi meditation techniques, advanced breath control and body control as well. I got to a point where I could control my heartbeat and hold my breath for more than 5 minutes at a time.

At age 14, my passion for magic had morphed into a fascination with escapes, so I became an escape artist and invented a great many escapes, getting more dangerous with each design. I was ready, both mentally and physically, to design, construct and to perform my great underwater escape. I did this at age 19, not knowing that I was about to die by doing so. To see me in the underwater chamber was to be like looking at a corpse with no breath, no movement and absolutely no signs of life whatsoever. My death transformed me in so many ways that it is incredibly hard to put into words. The choice I was then given as to life or death was a complete shocker to me, but it did not bother me one bit. The experience I had while underwater was nothing short of miraculous. Only recently, after 38 years to the day of the event, I spoke to my step-brother, Robert Pierce, about the performance. Robert and his buddy were my assistants and actually lowered me into the tank. He told me that he was in shock because I had been underwater for more than five minutes and then appeared like nothing had happened. A few years later, Robert became a Navy Seal and knew first-hand about the dangers of oxygen deprivation and said it was absolutely amazing that I made it past 3.5 minutes, the point of which normal human beings uncontrollably breath in and drown. By going past five minutes underwater, it was nothing short of a miracle.

I expect to be finished with the book (DYING TO LIVE) very soon and release it to the world on September 15, 2020, on my 58th birthday.



Snapshots of my life:

Highlights of traveling to Asia for over 30 years of my life. 

Becoming a Chef was just another way to explore my creative side and it took me around the world.

After making my way to Hollywood, I immediately fell into the roll of FX Model Maker, Painter and Pyrotechniques.

 Highlighting a very rewarding career in Hollywood where I created thousands of movie posters and album covers.

I have invented a great many things, but the world's fastest underwater recreational vehicle is my prize creation!

I found magic at the age of twelve, escapes at the age of fourteen, then began serious training in advanced yoga techniques.

In order to open my themed restaurant, The Samurai Cafe in Hollywood, I became a Muay Thai promoter and created solid relationships around the world within the Martial Arts community.

My second national award was a gold medal, President Ronald Reagan awarded it to me on stage in Nashville, Tennessee in 1984.