In anticipation of tomorrow's release with artist Sarah Joncas, The People's Printshop sat down to ask her a few questions about her life and art. Joncas offers absolutely wonderful and thoughtful answers to each, discussing her theories on art, early work, inspiration and much more.
Could you tell us a bit about where you were born and where you are now?
I was born in Hamilton, Ontario and now live in Toronto. I spent half my upbringing in Hamilton and the other half in Niagara Falls, but art school eventually brought me to move to Toronto, where I found a home and my future husband.
What are your first artistic memories?
Drawing dinosaurs and lizards, incessantly. Not sure why kids gravitate to them so hard, but I was convinced I wanted to be a paleontologist because of it. Only took a bit of time to realize my focus was more on the drawing of the dinosaurs and not trying to dig them up... Though, to my Mom's dismay, I did on many occasions go hunting for animals bones and bring them home to put in a display case.
How has your subject matter changed over time, if at all?
In my childhood, I only wanted to draw animals and dinosaurs. I actually disliked human characters and didn't understand why so many cartoons focused on them. When I got into my teens however that changed and I started to gravitate towards female subjects. Maybe because I wanted to express my own feelings and concerns through something relatable? I'm not exactly sure, to be honest. I think a lot of art has to do with intuition and following a feeling that doesn't always have a definite answer. Much of my work is driven that way.
Could you tell us a bit about your release, "Cecaelia," with The People's Printshop?
I painted 'Cecaelia' earlier this year for an ocean themed show called 'It came from Beneath the Sea', which was very ironic to me since I had painted a work with that exact title as a teen. It was an octopus girl emerging from a green background with a fish bowl of water on her head. I decided to take the image of an octopus girl and run with it how'd I'd envision her today. 'Cecaelia', in mythological folklore, is literally an octopus person.
Do your subjects exist in the same world or is each separate from the others?
I've never questioned that to myself before. I suppose they are in the same universe though, but still separate from one another. They live in our world, but at the same time, it's a world that's visually influenced by whatever psychological concern the characters are dealing with.
What's the most difficult part of being an artist?
Confidence and sustainability. You're constantly doubting yourself when it's something so subjective that you're dealing with. Even after creating something you feel proud of, it really only takes a few months for you to look back at it and realize everything wrong with it. I think it's good to let go and move on however. Put the work out there and improve upon things with the next body. The other issue is just finances and keeping yourself afloat that way. Never certain if your career is going to last, but it makes every year that you're still painting that much more rewarding.
How has social media impacted you and what effect do you think it's having on art in general?
Social media has pretty much been a part of the business for me since I started. It's hard for me to know what it's like promoting yourself without it. It's a great way to feel part of a community too! As a recluse and a person who has no co-workers to interact with on a daily basis, that's very beneficial I think. Nonetheless I have my days where I want little to do with it and find it exhausting and overwhelming (which I'm sure is a normal feeling). We all need a break from the internet from time to time. Overall I think it's good for the art world. I like the idea of people being able share their work worldwide at the click of a button. A world less limited. As an artist, it's inspiring to see so much and not be restricted to only the art available in books.
What's your favorite place to find inspiration?
In music and film. Film scores especially, they've always been so immersive for me! I love listening to them by myself in a quiet location. They carry a narrative, but separated from the visuals of the film, you're free to put in your own imagery. I miss having a forest in my backyard however. Growing up it was always the place I went for inspiration. Toronto is too busy with people for me to get that sense of nature’s isolation.
Why do you think art exists?
It's in our biology and psyche. Us wanting to get something out and having these tools at our disposal to do so. We have a natural inclination towards beauty and making things to express it. And we're not alone either, I suspect. Some animals have been documented to 'create' as well. Puffer fish and bower birds make intricate sculptures and designs. Chimpanzees given pencils and paint brushes make 'art' too. Though nothing representative, the chimps were still seen to get real satisfaction from making them. It's a curious thing.
What can we look forward to next from you?
I'm currently working towards a big two person show at Thinkspace this coming January. Myself and Kelly Vivanco are showing together and I'll have around 15-18 news pieces for the exhibit.