John W. Golden was born in 1967. He was born in an artistic family. His mother was a watercolorist, and his father was a storyteller/singer. John loved to draw from an early age. In 1977, his mother wanted a place where she could sell and show her watercolors so she opened a gallery. John spent half of his afternoons in the back room of this gallery, building model buildings out of scrap mat board. He spent the other half of his afternoon wandering the historic city around the gallery. The area was full of scrap materials, found relics and textures, because the many historic but decrepit buildings had recently been torn down. John developed a love for the unintentional design that existed in urban environments.
John began to work in linoleum block printing shortly after the gallery opened. He sold his artwork in his mother's gallery. These prints were very successful. This success coupled with his interest in regional history led him to create a series of hand-tinted pen and ink reproductions of the North Carolina Lighthouses. He later obtained a degree in Graphic Design at a time when desktop computers were being introduced. A job as a Building Monitor in the art department gave him an opportunity to access the computer lab where he taught himself how to use Apple Macintosh together with other programs, and then went out into the world of professional Graphic Design artists. He was later to be given the opportunity to design, illustrate and animate on projects for clients like Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network.