Born in London in 1952, John Stephenson began his training in the early seventies by first graduating from the Kingston School of Art with a BA (Hons) degree, then doing a post graduate course at the Royal College of Art where he gained an MA in 1979.
Stepping into the world of commercial design, clients, budgets and deadlines, he initially designed furniture, store interiors and corporate identity logos.
In 1980 he was invited to America to design products for Burnston Inc. (California), and it was during this time that he visited the Henson Organisation, which led to his working on the fantasy film ‘Dark Crystal' (1982) where he set up a creature workshop at Elstree Film Studios. From there he went on to work freelance on a number of films, commercials and pop promos, including ‘Greystoke' (1984), ‘Return To Oz' (1985), ‘Arena' (1985), ‘Max Mon Amour' (1986) and Labyrinth (1986).
When the Creature Shop was set up in 1986 John was made Creative Supervisor. In this role he set about expanding the shop's activities to provide a facility for both the film and the TV industries. He developed an approach to scripts which helped make such TV projects as the nine episode ‘Storyteller' (1987) and later the ‘Greek Myths' (1990) with their high production values possible.
Over the last four years the Shop has gone from strength to strength and is now recognised, both for its quality and innovation as a world force. During this time John has supervised and art directed a huge mixture of projects, including Jean-Jacques Annaud's ‘The Bear' (1988), Nic Roeg's ‘The Witches' (1990), ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles I & II' (1990, 1991), ‘The Muppet Christmas Carol' (1992), TV commercials and the TV film ‘Living With Dinosaurs' (1989) and ‘Monster Maker' (1989). Four episodes of the ‘Dinosaur Sitcom' (LA) and in recent years the Amblin production of ‘The Flintstones' (1994), executive produced by Steven Spielberg and ‘Neverending Story III' (1994), ‘Babe' (1995) and ‘The English Patient' (1996).
John has recently used his experience to begin a directing career and has recently directed several TV commercials for Saatchi & Saatchi. John acted as second unit director on ‘The Adventures of Pinocchio' (1996) and ‘Lost in Space' (1998)
Feature directorial credits include the award winning ‘Animal Farm' (2000), based on George Orwell's novel, with Pete Postlethwaite and voiced by Kelsey Grammer, and Patrick Stewart. Most recently John directed ‘Five Children and It' (2004) based on E. Nesbit's novel and starring Kenneth Branagh, Eddie Izzard and Freddie Highmore.
John was awarded an OBE for services to the British Film Industry in 2003.