cover image: "the weather inside" by Melissa D. Johnston

Hello World! Praxis Magazine Online is delighted to present our newest digital chapbook, curated by Praxis Art Coordinator Shannon Hopkins. Read Shannon’s interview with the artist below, then download and enjoy the weather inside: the art of Melissa D. Johnston.

INTERVIEW WITH THE ARTIST

Melissa D Johnston is a digital artist hailing from Mooresville, North Carolina. She has been a digital artist for ten years and has been working on mobile devices in particular for about five years.

She studied literature, theology, and philosophy at an undergraduate and postgraduate level, but returned to her passion for visual art in 2009. That year Johnston began exploring digital media when she had an original idea for a birthday present for her mother, and discovered a world of artistic possibility.

Johnston has exhibited her surprising, multi-faceted artwork work in the United States as well as Canada. Her work has also appeared in several art magazines, such as ONLY Mobile Art Magazine, Horizons magazine, The New Post Literate, and Eyedrum Periodically. Her work was even featured on the cover of the mid-year edition of ONLY magazine 2019.


download and enjoy the weather inside: the art of Melissa D. Johnston

Shannon Hopkins, Art Coordinator for Praxis Magazine Online, caught up with Johnston to find out more about her influences, processes, methods – and thoughts on the art scene:

As a digital artist creating most of your art work on iPhone or iPad Pro, what processes and layering do you undergo in your work to achieve the end result?
Generally, I scroll through my camera roll on my iPad until a photograph I’ve previously taken sparks an idea for a new artwork. I take the parts of the photograph that intrigue me and begin to combine it with textures and portions of other photographs to begin to tell a story. It’s an intuitive story that develops in the process itself; I don’t determine the story beforehand even if I have a hunch as to what it will be.

What are the main themes and influences in your work?
I believe the unconscious mind is a resource for traversing the depths of pain as well as providing a way to heal. I work intuitively as I create to make room for the influence and inspiration of the unconscious. Many of my earlier pieces dealt with personal childhood trauma, and my pieces today still largely deal with themes of suffering and healing.

What about working digitally do you find gives you an edge over other mediums?
Personally—don’t laugh!—the main edge working digitally gives me is the fact I can create while lying in bed. And here I am speaking of working with mobile devices. I have an immune deficiency that mandates resting for a portion of everyday in order to stay healthy. I first started doing mobile art when I had to spend hours in bed recovering from illness. Even though I don’t have to rest quite as much, I still tend to work either in bed or lying down on a futon in my office/studio.


download and enjoy the weather inside: the art of Melissa D. Johnston

What are your biggest challenges when it comes to working digitally?
I think the main challenge I have working digitally right now is control of the final printed piece, especially for exhibitions. At this point, I rely on others to print my pieces on various materials and obtaining the look I want can be a trial and error (and costly!) process.

How long does a piece usually take you to make from start to finish?
This is a hard question. I’ve had relatively uncomplicated pieces come together in a couple of hours to ones that have taken twenty hours or more. Quite a few times I’ve started a piece and become stuck after many hours but I’ve come back to it later and found exactly what it need to move forward.

How do you feel the digital age has changed the fields of the arts in a broader sense?
I think the digital age has opened up new possibilities for art. It has provided new methods and processes for producing art, but it has also made us look anew and expand the question of what can be considered art and why.

What advice would you give to aspiring artists who are drawn to using digital media?
I think the advice I would give would be the same for any other artist. Learning technique is important, but finding a community is also important. Many times they go hand in hand. If you don’t have a community “in real life,” find one online, perhaps through social media. I would not have become an artist without other artists encouraging me and giving me feedback. That being said, your community should be a place where you feel comfortable being imperfect, experimenting, and finding a voice—a voice uniquely yours.


download and enjoy the weather inside: the art of Melissa D. Johnston

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