I have always been a very slow worker and lose sense of time easily. Despite how impractical it is, I really enjoy this way of working and living.

Joanna Blémont

ART  .  August 10th, 2021

Could you start by giving us a little intro?

My name is Joanna Blémont, I’m an illustrator and artist based in Edinburgh. I studied Fine Art in Brussels and am now finishing an MA in Illustration. I would say my work currently floats between these two disciplines.

What music do you listen to when working on illustration?

It depends on the time of the day… I usually start with slower music in the morning and find upbeat sounds helpful around midday . Today started with Georges Moustaki’s ‘Les eaux de Mars’ and ended with Deaton Chris Anthony’s ‘1999 She’. I made a taster of my recent playlist here if you’re curious.

When working on more time consuming paintings, I find podcasts really helpful. I’ve been enjoying ‘Stuff You Should Know’ and the ‘History of Ideas’ podcasts lately. The continuous speech gives me the opportunity to focus for long windows of time and find a good work flow.

What did you draw as a kid?

I wish I could say I came up with imaginative dreamscapes but I was like most children – I drew my family by my house, horses and human figures.

How did you get to silent comics? What do you like about them?

I became interested in independent comics such as Kerascöet’s ‘Beauté’ when I was in secondary school. It led me to more experimental comics during my time at university. Recently, I came across Richard McGuire’s ‘Here’ which resonated with me a lot. Jérôme Dubois’ ‘Citéruine’ is another comic I enjoyed – he walks the reader through uninhabited silent cityscapes. Another recent discovery is Samplerman’s experimental silent comics which I’m a big fan of – they break traditional forms of sequencing and narratives found in comics.

For me, silent comics leave space for the reader to have their own take on things. They transmit a mood and atmosphere which allows the reader to immerse themselves in this parallel world without being guided by writing or an explicit narrative.

I think I drifted towards silent narration because I enjoy the ambiguity they create. I am currently creating a silent comic based on two dreams I had. I find that this form of narrative reflects the uncertain fragmented nature of dreams and has a similar tone to the rest of my work.

In your art, time seems to be passing slowly, waiting for something to happen after a long and slow summer afternoon. Even the characters seem to be wandering around. How do you create that feeling?

I think that’s mainly a reflection of the way I observe my surroundings. I like to keep myself entertained on walks and try to spot new details of the streets I pass by. The figures and characters reflect this detached observation, it’s not a conscious process from me. They exist in a dimension between the viewer and landscape. I think that the liminal aspect of the places I choose to explore also helps reinforce this feeling.

What inspired this black hole painting?

This piece is part of a wider project titled ‘Troubles Rêveries’ which is based on a collection of dreams I recorded around 2019. They explore the limit between curiosity and anxiety; wanting to uncover a dream’s hidden meanings and symbolism in a seemingly mundane landscape.

I usually take lots of pictures when I’m out and work from spaces which would be familiar to most. I subtract any specific details so that the viewer can project their own experiences and memories into them.

This particular piece was based on pictures I took when my parent’s neighbours were renovating their home. The plastic sheet looked like it was hiding something and inspired me to give it more meaning. I was experimenting with slow paced fragmented narratives at the time and sequenced a growing black hole as the boxes progressed. The black hole was not planned but kickstarted a few ideas for later pieces.

Copyright Kevin Balluff

What perception of time do you have yourself?

I don’t have the best perception of time when it comes to punctuality and knowing how long things take. I have always been a very slow worker and lose sense of time easily. Despite how impractical it is, I really enjoy this way of working and living.

What is your favorite time of the day?

I quite like sunrise and sunset because of their ‘in-between’ quality, it’s a time of transition which makes you conscious of how fast things change.

To finish, would you share with us some of the artists that inspire you?

I really enjoy Peter Doig and Mamma Andersson’s work, they have a dreamlike quality and tone which I’m drawn to. Their exploration of both figuration and abstraction in familiar environments is also something I pay a lot of attention to.

I’m also really interested in George Wylesol’s textured sequential work, there’s a nostalgic retro vibe which simultaneously seems completely fresh and new.

A lot of my inspiration also comes from series and films, they influence the format of the frames I work with. Tales from the Loop (2020) based on Simon Stålenhag’s work was very inspiring. The show had a slow paced contemplative narrative without solid explanations for things. I also watched Jarmusch’s ‘Paterson’ (2016) last week and was really touched by how poetic it was. The film follows a bus driver who writes poetry (or a poet who drives a bus) for a week and the audience has to slow down to his pace and experience his routine through his lens. He walks the same way to work everyday but notices and appreciates small variations on his way. I found some of my habits in this film. It immerses the viewer into a feeling and tone and not so much a story with an arc.

I could carry on with influences but I’ll stop here!

Joanna Blémont is an artist based in Edinburgh, UK. You can check out her work on her website and follow her on instagram.