Simms was born in the parsonage of a small AME Zion Church in Anderson but later moved with his family to Indianapolis where he attended several public schools before graduating from Crispus Attucks High School. With little support for his innate artistic talent, Simms “took up a trade” as one teacher and his parents suggested. But at General Motors corporate offices in Detroit, where John landed with his tools in 1978, his talents were respected and put to good use. John was asked to paint portraits of several GM executives and completed several portraits commissioned by the International UAW. While working for GM in Detroit, John completed his Associate Art degree Summa Cum Laude in commercial art and photography and obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts with Honors from the Center for Creative Studies College of Art and Design. When Simms retired from General Motors in 1999, he only wanted to paint heirloom portraits and create fine art depicting the positive values that have been with him since his youth. He does so today from his studio on the Cumberland Plateau in Fairfield Glade, TN.


Oil Portraits
  • Terrance Duvernay, former Executive Director of MSHDA
  • Gloria W. Robinson, former Detroit Director of Economic Development
  • Acquanetta Pierce, Founder and CEO, A•Vance Communications
  • Rev. Dr. Benjamin L. Hooks, NAACP Executive Director
  • John Gerard Brzezinski, Founder/President, C&S Communications
  • Rev. Dr. Carlyle Fielding III, Senior Pastor, Hope United Methodist Church, Southfield, MI
  • Rev. Ed Schneider, Pastor, Braxton AME Zion Church, Kingston, TN
  • Sgt. Marcus Futrell, One of Georgia’s Fallen Hero Killed in Iraq, Atlanta Fine Arts League
  • Rev. Odinga Maddox, Pastor, Mount Hope AME Zion Church, White Plains, NY
Water Color Portraits
  • Irving Bluestone, UAW Executive Director
  • Alfred Warren, Vice President, General Motors Corporation
  • Owen Bieber, UAW President
  • Coleman A.Young, Mayor City of Detroit
  • Stephen P. Yokich, UAW President
  • Bill Hughes, President, Philips Display Components Company