Johanna is a fantastic artist I just had to share with you guys. In 2001, she headed to Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in Dundee, where she graduated 4 years later with a first class honours degree in Printed Textiles. Her clients since then have ranged from Johnson & Johnson, DKNY, H&M, to Absolut Vodka, Creative Review and Hallmark. We sit down and talk a bit about being featured in the latest issue of Computer Arts, anime films, social media, & more. Click below to read the full interview…
How was it being featured in Computer Arts’ Yakuza inspired Designer Challenge? Have you ever designed a tattoo before?
Johanna: I love Computer Arts Projects so was delighted to be featured in this Designer Challenge. I replied to a tweet they posted calling for artists to design a tattoo for their forth coming Japan inspired issue. I’ve designed a few tattoos for friends before, although I try to avoid taking on client commissions for them. Sadly, the time required to get a tattoo design just perfect is vast, so commercially it’s very hard to structure that into a working week and still have time to take on other jobs.
Will this spark more eastern inspired art from you in the future?
Johanna: I think so. My mum is Chinese and although I’ve grown up in the UK, I’ve always had a special appreciation for Eastern artworks. I’m not sure if it’s the complexity of the detail or the amazing levels of craftsmanship, but for me oriental inspired work has always stood out.
How would you describe your art to someone who has never seen it before?
Johanna: Super detailed, hand drawn, pen and ink. Predominately – although not exclusively – in black and white.
Got any favorite Asian films or Anime? And while we’re on the topic of movies, what did you think of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland?
Johanna: To be honest, I don’t watch a lot of films or animated work. The truth is I spend so long drawing in the studio or out running (my new passion in life!) that I prefer audio to visual entertainment – it’s easier to mulit task with! I did however see Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland and I loved it. I thought visually it was so rich and colourful, whilst retaining that sense of dark craziness which prevent Burton’s work from becoming too sickly sweet. My attention span is short and I choose not to own a TV, so you are far more likely to find me viewing a cool little 45 second stop frame motion clip on Vimeo than sitting down to a 90 minute movie.
Why is black & white so appealing to you in your creativity?
Johanna: My artwork is super detailed and very complex. I try to hide little surprises within the design, be that a rogue butterfly or tiny little spider, which reveal themselves over time. I love the idea of the viewer spotting new things and the artwork evolving and developing in front of their eyes.
This love of detail and intricacy is what keeps my work monotone. I think when a visual is this precise and involved, that to addd colour becomes a distraction- it almost competes with the lines and distracts the viewers attention. Also, I think black and white is one of those timeless combinations which will never cease to be both beautiful and bold. Whereas some designers prefer to follow trends and use colours specific to the season, I like the everlasting appeal of monochrome.
You completed a project for The Fringe, which is the world’s largest arts festival. What do you think your greatest achievement is so far?
I’ve been lucky enough to create work for lots of really amazing clients, from the Fringe, to Channel 4, Absolute Vodka, BrewDog and UMBRO. In terms of a greatest achievement I think it’s impossible to single out one job out as better than all the rest. Each commission has its struggles, it challenges, its rewards and its high points. Without fail though, I’ll always look back on a job and see things which I would change, do differently or develop more. I think this is healthy though; I’m always learning and evolving as a designer and to be critical of my work to date is to know that I’m continually striving to be better at my craft and to improve on the next job.
So to answer the question, my greatest achievement is yet to come!
Was the transition from screen printer to becoming a full fledged illustrator hard?
Johanna: Not really, it felt like a natural progression. I studied textile design at Art School and specialised in silk screen printing. Although I enjoyed the printing process, the actual creation of the artwork, the drawing stage, was where my real passion lay. I think having a knowledge of how the print process works has greatly helped me as an illustrator – being able to understand how the final artwork will be produced gives you a foundation to build the artwork from.
Oddly enough, you are one of the few artist who REALLY embrace twitter to connect with their fans. How do you view the impact of social media on todays industry?
Johanna: Twitter is a huge part of my practise. The number of new clients or customers of limited edition prints who mention that they follow me on Twitter is staggering. They may have been introduced to my work via Twitter or have been following me for a while before getting in touch about a job or to buy a print, but it seems the ability to promote myself and my work via Twitter really helps secure new clients.
Also, Twitter is a brilliant tool for Creatives like myself who work independently. If I have a problem, a technical query or need some advice, I can tweet the question and a whole network of people will respond. People are amazing open and friendly on Twitter, the platform promotes collaboration and the sharing of ideas, which for a freelancer like myself is hugely helpful.
Any advice for freelancers who don’t have that gung-ho attitude to approach clients and get their work noticed?
Johanna: Sitting back and “waiting to be discovered” doesn’t work. I think you have to grab opportunities when they come your way and make opportunities when they are otherwise scarce. Try and be creative with your approach, appreciate the demands on people’s time and attention and find a way to interact with them that will charm and delight. Be friendly and polite. Be cheeky when you can get away with it, if you can raise a smile, you have won half the battle.
Thanks for your time and we wish you nothing but continued success in all you do!
Johanna: Thank you kindly!
Interested in checking out more of her work or purchasing some of her art in her store? Follow her cookie crumb trail below: