IT'S BEEN SAID that every character "type" was present in our class the day we started school. Finding someone completely original after that is a feat.

I don't know about your school, but there weren't many John Moores in my class. Spend five minutes with the man and you realize you're talking to a man quite unlike any you've ever known.He's not just a self-styled individual, he's self-sculpted - literally. His sculpture, drawings and physique pack the passion and power of a big cat. But inside, he's as quiet and wise as a Tibetan monk.

"My mother says I was drawing before I could speak," he explains. "And the only subjects that interested me were animals exhibiting power and grace: horses, deer, big cats.

"As I got older I saw the body-building ads in magazines, read comic books full of super-heroes who had strong, graceful bodies. They were like the bodies of the animals I loved to draw. So it was inevitable I'd get into body building. I prefer to see myself as a `physique artist,' however, someone interested in the aesthetics of the human form. I'm not looking to become big and thick. I don't want people to be afraid of me. I just want to become the art I've always loved. My body's the clay, the weights are the chisels."

Moore came to Salt Lake City when he was 5. Today he claims his tracks have been erased because the schools he attended here (Jefferson, South) are now closed. In 1975 he began his four years at the University of Utah. He also took a job with Salt Lake County Animal Services. Currently he's a field supervisor for the operation. ("I'm not a dogcatcher," he explains, "I'm a dog-owner catcher.")

He recently did a series of pen and ink drawings of dogs in action that are being marketed nationally.

As for body building - or body sculpture, as he prefers to think of it - Moore may well be the most articulate proponent of the sport in the state.

"Man was the last thing God created," he says, "so in a sense you could say we're the masterpiece. If people in physique building would just think of themselves that way, they might put some more forethought into it.

"My own sense of integrity won't let me use steroids, for example. Steroids are like a paint-by-number kit - there's no planning, no thought. I don't want to owe my success to chemicals. I want to do what I can with what God has given me, not with what chemists have given me."

On April 28 and 29, Moore will participate in a seminar on steroids at the Salt Palace. The event is sponsored by the Utah Federation for Drug-Free Youth.

"So many idols for kids today use steroids," Moore says. "We want to get the word out to kids in the schools that they really don't really need them."

Moore also boosts drug-tested body building competitions (see the related story on this page) and tries to counsel where he can.

But, at the core, there is always the art. And at the core of that art there is always power, strength, grace and movement.

"I see paintings of a mother lion lying with her cubs or an elk bugling, and I think they're great," he says. "But in my own work those animals must be active, moving with strength and grace, because that's what I think animals are about."

Anyone who knows John Moore will tell you that's a lot of what he's about as well.