Interview

Illustrator Izzy Johns talks art, process, and moss

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Tom Drew and Jack Drew, organisers of house and disco night Loop Hole, sat down with Leeds illustrator Izzy Johns to talk about her approach to drawing and her style. 

Izzy has been passionate about illustrations all her life. She is a multi-talented illustrator with a broad scope of eccentric themes—right now she is focusing on moss! She is indeed one of the most authentic young illustrators that we have come across. 

When and why did you start illustrating?

When? About the same time as I learned how to hold a pencil. My work was mainly abstract back then. I couldn’t tell you why in under 2000 words.

Which artists influence you?

That’s a tricky one because influence doesn’t really fit into one box. Like, some artists have lines and shapes that I like, such as Aubrey Beardsley. Some artists make art about things that interest me, such as Mark Leckey, and some artists have ideas that twist up my ideas, like Jon Rafman. They’re all equally important I guess.

Where else do you look for inspiration?

Moss.

Do you begin illustrating with a plan in mind?

I know what I want to say but I never know what it’s going to look like. Sometimes I start mumbling and I have to redo it.

How much of you illustration is imagination, and how much is imitation?

It’s all imitation. If any imagination gets involved it’s not my fault.

If you could choose, where would you most like to have your work displayed?

On a long stick poking out from the middle of the sea, to surprise people in boats. You don’t expect pictures of moss in the middle of the sea.

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Would you describe yourself as a perfectionist, or do you welcome accidents as part of your artistic approach?

I’m definitely not a perfectionist! The thing is, I never know if my drawings are any good because by the time they’re finished I’ve just been looking at them for too long. It’s hard to be a perfectionist if you don’t have the concept of perfection. Once a drawing has said what I want it to say, everything beyond that could be considered a happy accident.

When and where do you work best?

On the beach at about 4.25pm.

How do you see your illustrations evolving in the future?

I know that I want to work collaboratively more. Tom and Jack are pretty good people to collaborate with because they’re nice and I get to listen to their records. Almost every collaboration I’ve done so far has involved music in some way, so I guess that suits me pretty well. That hasn’t really answered your question because I couldn’t say how the illustrations themselves will evolve. Sorry. If I knew that I wouldn’t be paying 9 grand a year to study illustration.

Do you have any upcoming projects you could tell us about?

Yeah, I have lots of ideas for new projects but I recently lost my favourite pen. Until I get a new one I can’t put anything into action.

Izzy’s original prints are currently on sale at the Hyde Park Book Club.

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