The Catalogue of Imaginary Beings: Quirky Collages by Johanna Goodman
For many artists, a creative block is their absolute nemesis. Everything is done to avoid that moment of blankness; of not knowing where to go next. For illustrator Johanna Goodman, things are a little different. Creative blocks are an integral part of her artistic process. Once she hits the inevitable panic of “not knowing”, she knows she’s on the brink of something amazing. The rush of inspiration after a creative block is where her work comes into its finest hour.
Known predominantly for her colourful close-ups of celebrities (think Kanye West, Anne Hathaway, Jack Black, and everyone in between), Goodman has now branched out into collage, creating a whole new series called “The Catalogue of Imaginary Beings.” Far from the portraits of celebrities, these pieces form part of “an imaginary scientific research catalogue”, complete with illustrated plates that show imaginary beings made up of unusual textures, shapes, and colours.
Well-known faces might be juxtaposed with a body made of cut-out logs or the draped robes of a Greek goddess, while others are distorted outfits that offer a hat-tip to the vibrant shades and intricate textures of African design.
“I have a serious wax print/mud cloth fixation,” Goodman says, going on to add that she regularly sews with these fabrics. Recently, she’s started combining these with her cut-out collages to create layered pieces of people that are both familiar (in their real-life faces) and alien (in their stretched bodies and weird proportions).
In the past, Goodman’s processes have been fairly regimented. For her celebrity paintings, she had a series of steps that she had to take to reach the end product, but with her new collage work, she enjoys “not being able to plan ahead too much”. Instead, she relies on her instincts, using materials, strokes, and marks that come to her in the moment. “It’s really intuitive and surprising”, she adds, saying it can also be “totally confounding, which is a real treat.”
Now, Goodman relishes in a few different styles for which she’s become well known for (her illustrations have been seen in major publications, like the cover of Times Magazine). Oils, inks, sharpies, and charcoal make regular appearances in her studio. Collaging methods and digital design bring the final pieces together in a clean, crisp way. Goodman explains that all these materials and processes share a common aesthetic: “something bold and confident with a strong sense of design and draftsmanship.”
But how does Goodman even begin to choose which materials to use and what subjects to portray? “I spend an inordinate amount of time looking at everything,” she says. That includes everything from photos and art, to books and everything in between. After she’s found some background ideas that will loosely inform her pieces, she’ll create some simple sketches before diving right in and seeing where the momentum takes here.
The result is a new body of work that’s both completely different to her previous offerings, but also similar in the bold lines, vibrant characters, and the notion of looking at people in a different way.
Enjoy the track “Soulspeak” by Basic Soul Unit while viewing the gallery below.
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