Thursday, June 29, 2017

Interview with Artist Johanna Öst

When I started Evgenia years ago on Etsy (back in the Honey Cooler Handmade days), I managed to stumble across the glorious artwork of Johanna Öst, a talented artist with a personal aesthetic that pays faithful homage to vintage style and fantastical beauty. For years, I coveted her La Belle Dame Sans Merci painting, followed her quietly from Instagram, and just admired her work from afar. And then, suddenly, we connected!

Johanna Ost's La Belle Dame Sans Merci (left) and Sky and Earth (right)

If you've been following Evgenia on social media, no doubt you've seen Johanna's painting of two "allegorical cuties" wearing the Rebelle collection. When Johanna wore her new Rebelle Bralette, Bed Jacket, and High Waisted Knicker for a vampy photo shoot, I knew not only did I have to share some of the shots, but that I wanted to find out more about this very special person! Check out my interview with her after the images below!





EVGENIA: Your work is so fantastical - what would you say inspires you the most? 
JOHANNA: There is so much, but some of the things that inspire me the most are definitely folklore, mythology, fairy- and folktales. I love stories of the fantastic, mysterious and supernatural. 
I’m also very inspired by ghost stories by authors such as M.R. James and older horror films. 
Style wise my main inspirations are probably classic fairytale illustrations and pulp magazine covers.
EVGENIA: I absolutely adore the painting you did of the Rebelle collection! How did you decide on the theme and characters? 
JOHANNA: Thank you! Well, I knew you liked my painting of La Belle Dame sans Merci so I thought I’d make something slightly similar in style, a bit romantic and with a colour scheme that would go together with La Belle Dame. 
I thought the hearts and stars of the Rebelle collection lent themselves quite well to an earth and sky theme, and I love symbolism and allegories in art. That’s pretty much it!
EVGENIA: You recently moved to the UK from Sweden - what inspired the transition? 
JOHANNA: Ever since I left my childhood home I have lived in a flat in a very boring suburb to Stockholm where I have never felt at home. Me and my boyfriend have been looking for a “forever home” for quite a few years now but it never really struck me until recently that we could actually choose to live somewhere completely different.
There were a lot of things that led me to realise that I needed to change things dramatically, but the main thing was a feeling that I’ve wasted large parts of my youth isolating myself due to severe social anxiety.
Moving to the north of England is definitely one of the best things I’ve ever done and my life has changed so much for the better during the last couple of years. 
EVGENIA: What’s been your favorite project you’ve done and why? 
JOHANNA: The project I’m most proud of at the moment is the comic book I’m currently working on. I’ve made a couple of very short comics before but this time it’s an actual full story and it has taken me slightly over a year to finish. I have yet to publish it but I can’t wait to show everyone the finished product! 
Another favourite project of mine has been the series of illustrations inspired by victorian ghost stories I made last year. They were published in a zine called Phantasmagoria which is no longer available, but they are without a doubt the most interesting illustration job I’ve ever done. It’s not often I get to make lavish, detailed illustrations on such exciting themes, most of my illustration work consists of simple black and white drawings for young adult books. 
EVGENIA: Any big art projects in the offing?
JOHANNA: The biggest one would be the comic I mentioned earlier. It’s a ghost story set in a seaside town and I’ve worked harder and spent more time on it than any other project before. While I love creating a narrative in everything I do I usually stick with small snippets. I’m really not comfortable as a writer and putting together an entire story like this is new to me. 
I always have lots of big project ideas swirling around in my head, but most of them will have to wait until I move somewhere with a proper studio space.
EVGENIA: Where can people find your work?
JOHANNA: You can see a large selection of my work and buy originals and prints at johannaost.com
I also have an Etsy shop at johanna.etsy.com where I sell select prints, originals, comics and wearable accessories. 
EVGENIA: Anything else you’d like to share?
JOHANNA: Thank you so much for interviewing me!
Thank you so much, Johanna!

Be sure to visit Johanna's online stores to shop her amazing artwork! And you can pick up your own Rebelle set in the Evgenia boutique.

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