Thursday, September 10, 2015

Creative Style: Victoria Johnson

I am starting a new weekly series featuring artists I know and love, looking back through
their creative journey to see what path was taken to arrive at the style they are currently working in.

First in the series is Victoria Johnson a fellow artist with our amazing agent Jennifer Nelson.
She has had a long career in the industry, we recently discovered that we had crossed paths
20 years ago when she had a studio that I was buying art from. Small world! Her work is so
lovely and delicate yet powerful. I love how she has come to using a beautiful mix of media.
See her journey here!

1. How did you arrive at the style you are working in currently?

It was a long circuitous journey. In college I did a series of paintings that represented
everything I love about creating art. They featured people (my family) in different highly-
patterned environments and focused on color, form and texture.

I'm going to build a series around this painting this year.

Immediately after I graduated I was employed in New York as a fashion textile 
designer and embarked upon an entirely different path to that which I’d been exploring.  
Fashion textile design is a very specific field and tuning in to what sells was very difficult 
at first (flowers!!!). During this period I started designing for the paper products market too. Christmas was always a huge seller.  
Since then I must have created hundreds of commercial Christmas designs - 
a huge departure from my college paintings. 

Hand-painted and collaged Christmas cards from 15 years ago!

We painted everything by hand for several years then gradually everyone switched to 
computers.  I learned Photoshop pretty quickly and started ‘painting’ commercial 
themes with that.  

Photoshop brushes - limitless possibilities.

A few years ago I taught myself illustrator and my work became very crisp, flat and graphic. 

I love Illustrator.  So clean and sooo easy to edit.

Throughout all this I still harbored ideas of getting back to the paint but couldn’t see how I’d do it commercially.  I’d built a lot of 'rules' in my head about what was required  to earn a living in this industry and was too fearful to deviate from them.  However, in the last couple of years I’ve had a break through and, particularly since last Autumn, I really feel I’m creating art that I want to create - artwork that is commercial but very much represents my taste.  I feel so enthusiastic about this and want to take it as far as it will go within commercial parameters - and beyond.  Meeting a huge community of artists through MATS, and the MATS course itself, has exposed me to the million ways of working successfully. Being represented by Jennifer Nelson and seeing the breadth of styles and techniques used to beautiful effect by my fellow JNA artists has opened so many doors in my mind. 

2. Are there any other styles or techniques you are playing and experimenting with now that you think will incorporate into your work?

I am using collage, embroidery, pen, pencil, pastel, Photoshop, Illustrator, watercolor, ink and acrylic, often all in the same piece of art.  I just started a project on Instagram that really encourages experimentation and exploration.  I’m creating a tiny piece of art everyday - just 2.5” wide - implementing the different media and techniques that inspire me.  The scale is so small because I think it makes the goal very manageable.  I encourage all my fellow artists to join in - just tag me (@victoriajohnsondesign) and #alittleart.  If your work complements my feed I may feature it but the main point is to experiment in tiny doses.
I’m not sure where these little cards will lead me but I’m already making artistic decisions and discoveries that will feed my commercial design work.

A few of my #alitttleart cards.  Can’t wait to do something with these!

You can see more of Victorias work at
Or at Jennifer-Nelson-Artists here.


Melissa said...

Wonderful post and interview, Jen. Love Victoria's work as always. So fascinating to hear about her creative journey!!

Misha said...

Wonderful to see her progression as an artist. Great interview, great work!

Jennifer Nelson said...

Two of my all time favorite artists! GREAT read. Bravo to you BOTH!

Unknown said...

thanks Jennifer for sharing this series. it was great to see how Victoria's work has evolved over the years and how she is still growing as an artist each day :)

Marylinn Kelly said...

Thank you. An inspiring, encouraging interview. We do come away with so much from seeing the evolution of an artist's work, the learning/experimenting curve. I am very interested in trying the 2.5 inch format. I love new possibilities. xo

rachael said...

loved reading this, are both so inspiring!

Antoana said...

I love Victoria's work...from day one I've met her in MATS Bootcamp! She has it all...and so cool to see her artistic journey...Victoria-I love your college painting! It's wonderful and I really think you should do something with those like you said! :) xox

Unknown said...

You're both such terrific and inspiring artists! I love seeing Victoria's early work and learning about her start. That painting made in college is quite beautiful.

Tracey said...

Lovely to learn a litte more. :)