Check out JJ Gregory’s chat with Andrea Joseph about ballpoint pens (of course!), new ways to challenge yourself, and how she’s found even more things to love during the process of creating art.
Q: Doodle was my nickname for my Dad when I was growing up so I am especially and personally fond of the fact that you call yourself a Professional Doodler on your business card. In your Creative Lettering kourse you show people how to warm one’s pens and hands up with doodles. Tell us a bit about the life changing magic of doodling.
A: It’s funny. I feel like I haven’t doodled, just doodled, for a long time. I specifically associate doodling with the ballpoint pen, I guess because that’s just the pen that’s always hanging around the house. It’s the pen you pick up and doodle with whilst you’re talking on the telephone. I actually miss doodling. I see it as the physical act of daydreaming.
Q: You go on treasure hunts for vintage books and street graffiti and encourage students to do the same. Some people thought tactics like these wouldn’t interest them until they tried it and had great results (One student said the graffiti tips alone were worth the entire cost of the kourse). Explain why it’s important to find and copy great stuff you see in order to build up your own skills.
A: For the past few years I’ve been working with a couple of charities as an arts practitioner. The charities take art to vulnerable people, with complex needs whose lives are in crisis. So, we work with people experiencing homelessness or in recovery and/or in prison. The graffiti exercises are something that these groups really, like REALLY, enjoy and they often go off and work on this lettering after the class ends.
I think anything is worth trying out. I wonder if this is because I never had any formal art training. I feel like I need to have a try. Some things stick with you, some things don’t. And if they don’t become a part of my own artwork it gives me a massive bank of ideas to try out with the people I work with.
Q: Ballpoint pens + Andrea Joseph will always be an enduring love story but…. You’ve been experimenting with fountain pens and all kinds of different tools in your recent work including feeling loads of inspiration from Ronald Searle who you loved as a child. Do you have any plans to make handmade Valentine’s this year and what tools are you likely to use for them?
A: Yeah, I guess I will be known as the ballpoint artist even though, in reality, I haven’t used them for years, maybe five or six years. I don’t mind. But right now I love paint. And colour pencil. I think they’re my current favourites, but that could change any minute. The thing I most love is the change and trying out new things. Challenging myself. These all sound like cliches but it’s true. I love playing the most.
I am currently doing a lot of portrait work. I won’t be making any Valentine’s cards as such. If I’ll be doing anything it’ll be drawing people on the spot (now THAT is a challenge), for them to give as Valentine’s gifts at my local flea/vintage market. I try to do it every Sunday. I love it. Sitting, drawing people, and chatting. It’s an unusual and quite intimate space and people tell me all kinds of stories. Everyone, no matter who they are, has a fascinating story to tell.
Q: Your journey as an artist had some twists and turns including getting stuck in a dead end job and abandoning your love of drawing for a while. As an introverted person, you’ve credited finding an online community as a big part of your turn around and success. What’s your advice to someone who might be feeling lonely and without connections or any tips on how to restart a creative habit?
A: The internet is an amazing place. All life is here. I think it makes it easier to socialize as an introvert. When you find the right group, that is.
I was lucky that throughout my drawing life I’ve found the people I really needed to. At a very early stage for me, I found France and Suzanne, then the Everyday Matters Group. And more recently I found a lot of sketching friends through Urban Sketching (I even met my partner through Urban Sketching!) and the best group of sketching buddies through my Drink & Draw events.
I’ve also met the people I found online in person. And that’s a big old surreal awesome feeling, I’m sure anyone who went to SketchKon would agree.
Andrea Joseph is an award-winning illustrator from Wales, now living and drawing in Derbyshire in the North of England. She is entirely self taught. Her illustrations celebrate the beauty of everyday and observed objects layered with incredible hand lettering.
Follow her on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/aheavysoul/