John on set with big wave surfer Maya Gabeira in the Dominican Republic
Photo by Bruce Asbury
John Urbano grew up in Northern Indiana and studied illustration and advertising at the Columbus College of Art and Design. John started his career in house at Abercrombie & Fitch concepting, directing and shooting campaigns for Abercrombie, abercrombie kids, Hollister Co., and Gilly Hicks. One of John's most celebrated accomplishments while at Abercrombie was the creation of an online video series called A&FTV—A groundbreaking online video concept with over 50 shows.
John has conceptualized, directed and/or photographed campaigns for Abercrombie and Fitch, Aeropostale, American Eagle Outfitters, Aerie, Bali, Clinique, Converse, Deichmann, Dial, DSW Shoe Warehouse, Garnier, Gilly Hicks, Hanes, Henkel-Fa Feel Fantastic, Hollister Co., Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Kmart, Lands' End, Lane Bryant, Lucky Brand, Madewell, Maidenform, Nair, Sony UK, Spanx, Swisse Vitamins, Tween Brands, Vince, Vente Privee, and XOXO.
John has directed projects for Carrie Underwood, Justin Timberlake, Keith Urban, Nicole Kidman, One Direction, and Tim Timbaland.
His video for One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful” won two MTV video music awards in 2012.“What Makes You Beautiful” has been viewed OVER 1 billion times to date. Currently, he has photographed five album covers and directed two music videos for One Direction.
His video for Keith Urban's “Cop Car” was a 2015 ACM nominee for video of the year. His video for Keith Urban's “Somewhere in my car” was a 2015 CMT nominee for male video of the year. His video for Keith Urban's “The Fighter” featuring Carrie Underwood in 2017 won a CMT award for "Collaborative video of the year." To date, John has shot and directed four music videos for Keith.
John's short documentary about big wave surfer Maya Gabeira was picked up by the Honolulu Surf Film Festival and screened in 2017 in the women's shorts program.
The recently published John Urbano 1 is the work of ten years of passionate all-film, black and white photography. The book houses a collection of fine art images, studies, stories, lessons, and love for the work, bringing together a number of women whose diverse passions are represented in natural settings around the world.
John’s documentary Beauty of the Fight has been accepted into twenty-nine film festivals around the world screening in nine different countries. Beauty of the Fight has been awarded best documentary at the Athens International Film + Video Festival and Best Cinematography at the Docufest Atlanta. On January 18th, 2010 John Urbano brought his documentary Beauty of the Fight back home to Panama. It was presented at the National theatre in Casco Viejo, raising over $17,000 for the Movimiento Nueva Generacion. The funds will be used in the building and finishing of a community center for the children of Barraza and El Chorrillo. The community center is a safe place where children can eat a meal for free, take dance lessons, study graphic design, use the library and Internet, and watch movies.
John's third photography book is titled “Sicilia.” For six years, John documented the country where his grandparents called home before they crossed the ocean on the Holland American Line in 1960.
In 2016, John completed a short film about two-time world champion boxer Ismael Laguna titled El Tigre. John met Ismael ten years ago and was personally asked by the champion to tell his story. The film has screened at the San Diego Latino Film Festival, Athens International Film + Video Festival, Ashland Independent Film Festival, Cleveland International Film Festival, Flickers Rhode Island International Film Festival, LA Shorts Fest, Gig Harbor Film Festival, Brussels Belgium's Festival Peliculatina, and Wandering Reel Traveling Film Festival. El Tigre has won Honorable Mention for Best Short Film at Ashland Independent Film Festival. This is the only short narrative to win a prize this year other than the winner of Best Short. El Tigre was picked up for distribution by the Shorts International Limited company as part of a seven year deal. El Tigre received Oscar qualification making it one of 150 films reviewed by the Academy in 2017.
John is currently working on a portrait book in the Dominican Republic along with writing a few movie scripts.