January Morissette is a first-year Media Practice student at Sussex. As a multidimensional artist, she does not work with just one medium. Her work oscillates between digital media such as photography and graphic design, to fine art mediums like illustration and oil paints. January is a member of the creative art organisation ‘XTRA.art’ where she works loosely within the Media sector and has also exhibited her work in their touring exhibition.
What is your preferred medium?
I cannot say that I have a specific preference, I think it just comes down to what medium I get my hands on at that moment. Sometimes I do get lazy and pick up whatever is closest to me! I haven’t been able to settle down with just one medium – I think I’m still constantly reinventing my work and practicing with whatever currently interests me. Although, I do like the hands-on graphic design because of the liberation if gives you! You can literally draw/design anything you put your mind to, of course with a little bit of practice, and all you literally need is a pen and paper to start off with. It’s so simple and easy, and I love being able to pour the ideas and images from my head straight onto paper. Even if I don’t come out with a great piece at that moment, I like collecting compositions of different ideas and to develop further once I’ve meditated on which ones I really do like. As for photography, I like taking a lot of random photos, and then working on them later on when I’ve forgotten what I’ve actually captured, and then messing around with them, to create collages or to distort them slightly. I don’t tend to do anything crazy, I just like playing around with Photoshop when I’m bored and seeing what I come up with! I really like surreal photography though. I want to work on that theme a lot more.
What themes are found in your artwork?
The main theme you’ll find in my artwork are references to the music I listen to. I am inspired by their melodies, lyrics, and imagery which I use as starting points for different illustrations, photographs, and typography. I listen to a mixture of genres and artists, from Old Rock to 2000’s R&B hits and even Kpop! It just depends on what my eyes and ears capture at that current moment, so my inspirations are interpreted relatively different each time.
Last year I worked on the theme of ‘Youth’ a lot because I was feeling quite sentimental about my tender age before I turned 19, and created a few illustrations, photographs and a painting related to this theme as a way of celebrating my last year of actual ‘teenage-hood’. You can see that pink is a recurring colour in my recent work, because for some reason – and I cannot put a finger on it but – I’ve been really drawn to the pastel pink aesthetic.
Do lyrics influence your work?
100% yes! I think it’s because English was not my first language and when I moved to the UK as a child I spent – probably worrying – amounts of time in front of the TV watching MTV music videos and concert DVD’s, so I learned a lot of my English through music. A lot of the time I feel that it’s easier for me to communicate my feelings and thoughts through song lyrics! Although it doesn’t often work when my peers don’t know the songs I’m referring to, that’s where pictures come in. It’s like using music and art to relay what I find hard to communicate sometimes.
How does storytelling play part in your artwork?
I find it hard to create anything without there being a narrative or story; I have to find meaning or create one in order to conceptualize what I want to create and communicate. So when someone gives me a blank piece canvas or a really open theme, I panic and try to remember the last song or story I heard or liked and base a narrative through that and use it as a starting point.
How do you use social media?
I use Instagram like a photo album/sketchbook where I just upload anything I’ve been working on, whether it’s a drawing composition, something in the works or a finished piece. Even if it’s bad I upload it because Instagram is my most used platform, I can always view and review what I need to improve and work on; it’s almost like a portable digital journal for me – rather than just a platform I share my work on. I just don’t do it often enough to build a following because It’s not something I take too seriously, and like most of the things I do, I just like to take it easy and have fun with it.
Finally, do you have any future plans regarding your artwork?
I’ve been saying that my work’s still in it’s “early stages” for quite a long time, and I think it’s time I start developing them into solid projects which I see through, rather than constantly making small pieces that are left unfinished. So, yes, definitely! Not more work, but better work coming soon!
Words: Louisa Hunt