Katie Johnson described herself as an interactive illustrator as she does focus on illustration but she does a lot more than just drawing and image making. The main thing I loved about her talk is she was incredibly real and put a lot of things in perspective. She started her talk by listing all the things she did which went from incredibly interesting jobs like zine editor and photographer to the most boring such accountant. This made me realise that unless we get a job that’s 9-5 or similar we will be doing a million things rather that one which does appeal to me.
She did talk about her individual practice and how she created her visual journals. This was one of her initial projects after starting uni and was developed when she traveled through japan. She looked into anxiety and mentioned how it felt like she was researching herself through text and images. This really fascinated me as not only was the work incredibly interesting it was also so emotional and I really connected to it. Katie also mentioned that when she exhibited this work she felt quite uncomfortable as it was so personal but she was then less scared to be so emotional. This made me realise that a lot of the time work is more impactful when it has part of us within it and I really want to make work that has this effect.
Katie also spoke about her studio called pause. This is a collective that came through while studying her MA. She mentioned how she was going through a really tough time and it really helped her. The studio was based around workshops based around creativity and meditation that helps bring people together. She mentioned that she works with a lot of different industries as the workshops are focused on small businesses. She mainly did this as she looked at how she could help other people and found a lot of people had a high level of business anxiety. I really liked this aspect of her work as it was all about using skills to help others. It was also really fascinating as Katie said that meeting with these other businesses such as tech start up’s was actually really inspiring and potentially more inspiring than her illustration friends as it generates a lot of new ideas.
Katie also entered in a competition to help produce the tour visuals for Sting and Peter Gabriel and got the chance to be involved. This was so inspiring for me as it’s something I would love to do. She was the main image maker and created a lot of low fi work that was really beautiful and interesting. She worked alongside lots of different people such as animators and ue designers which she said was quite hard but it also had the same effect as her pause studio workshops as it created a conversation with lots of different ways of thinking. This is something I think I am actually quite good at as I have lots of friends with different skills and professions and I always talk about various creative subjects and projects with them. This did help reinforce the importance of that.
One of the projects Katie was most proud of was ‘Playology’. This was a project that was started during her BA studies and has continued through to now. It explores complex ideas through play and was based on the digestive system and how the things out their are either pretty or descriptive but not both and her and her partner wanted to create this. They made a giant model of the digestive system and take it to events still to this day. This was both of their first time dealing with fabric and she highlighted the importance of understanding different materials and using this to your advantage. It also highlights the importance of understanding your audience as the main point of the whole project was to interest kids and that is something that was definitely achieved.
Katie does also work in a collective called dayjob. This started after university and they have since done exhibitions together and work a lot together whether thats as a pair, threes or as a whole. She mentioned how having a collective means that theres full creative control over what you do, like if Katie hadn’t done much painting recently she could always do that through dayjob. I do really like the idea of working in a collective as I’d love to exhibit with my friends and bounce ideas off each other but I do compare myself to other people a lot so it may not work great for me.
Katie left us with some lasting points that I found really useful and interesting. They are bullet pointed below.
- Let go and just make things, often the best ideas are created just because. Also help’s creative block!!
- Try new things even if you hate them and if you don’t love it just don’t do it again!
- Don’t be afraid of experimenting
- Alone time can refine techniques
All of these things I am definitely going to take with me on my practices in the future and I am always going to keep an eye out for Katie’s work.