Born in North Carolina and raised in Georgia, John McCollum was an art major in college when he joined the military, was sent to Hawaii, and met his wife in Oahu, then moved back to Georgia.
He and his wife later returned to Hawaii in 1981. John owned and operated an advertising and design agency for 17 years. He took up gourd-decorating to help a friend and found it to be a wonderful canvas to express his love for the people and culture of the islands as well as its natural beauty. After closing his ad agency in July of 2000, John began designing contemporary bamboo lamps and wall hangings in addition to his gourds. John and his wife Joanne currently live on the Big Island and are members of the Hawaii Gourd Society.