June 6th, 2018
The sad poetic artwork by artist Joni Belaruski is raw and emotional. Her heavy use of black splatters and dots drive home the emotional feeling in her work. When she does use colour there is such a small amount you feel that it's trapped within the darkness of the world.
Her work is strong and dares to make a statement. She’s an artist whose work really touches so many people. Putting mental health issues at the forefront of her work, she helps to describe what so many people go through in their daily lives.
Where are you from?
I’m from the North West of Ireland, specifically a pretty little valley town called Limavady. I’m currently living in North London which is an altogether different beast.
How did you get interested in art?
I don’t recall an actual point where I got interested in art…it’s just something I’ve done since I could hold a pencil and was a natural assumption to me that this is what I would be doing when I ‘grew up’. I might have gotten waylaid a little bit along the way (mainly by bands and rock n roll) but it’s always been my calling.
Where do you find inspiration for your work?
Living in London is a constant source of inspiration… there is so much happening here, it’s hard not to feel inspired by something on a daily basis. People, how we move, interactions, conversations, love, relationships, animals, dreams, difficult situations, poetry, words, stories, films. A lot of what I draw is very personal to me. I write everything down.
How would you describe your art style?
Teetering between chaos and control, whimsical, dark
What is your process for a piece from start to finish?
Well the idea is key….that could start with the image already formed in my head, or the title, or whatever, then I’ll compose some or all of the reference images in an editing program from photographs or stock images then take that to the canvas/paper/board/wall. A lot of the time I don’t work things out from a compositional standpoint until I’m doing the actual artwork which has led me into some sticky situations where I’ve had to scrap a drawing due to realising halfway through it isn’t working. You think I’d have learnt from that but I like winging it sometimes. It’s exciting.
Do you remember the first piece of art you ever made? If so, what was it and do you know where it is?
Christ, I barely remember what I did last week. It was probably a horse.
If you were not an artist, what job would you have?
Well I guess next in line would be a musician. If that fell by the wayside, then I’d definitely work with animals. I was massively into horses when I was younger and I nearly became a veterinary nurse but the calling wasn’t quite strong enough. I knew I was really supposed to be making art. I’ve had some interesting jobs in the past – clown, strippogram, photographer, stud farm….
How have you evolved as an artist from when you first started to now?
I’ve got a hell of a lot more to say now. I aspire to maintain depth and integrity by drawing or painting from a place of experience…whether that comes across to whoever is looking at it isn’t really my place to say. I don’t worry so much these days about whether I can explain every last nuance of a piece of work away and whether I am offending anyone…I hate how easily offended the world has become. However, when a piece gets out into the world it sort of almost belongs to anybody who views it and as most people have opinions, it’s hard not to be a least a little concerned about how the message you’re delivering is being received. I find I’ve become more critical of my technical ability but I think that’s healthy…it gives me the impetus to want to improve.
If you had a super power, what would it be and would you use it for good or evil?
Shapeshifting would be cool...to experience the body and senses of a completely different species. I’d hate to be able to read people’s minds. Can you imagine how neurotic that would make you? We’ve all got a bit of good and evil in us….so I guess it would depend on the situation. No halos over here!
What does your art say about you?
That I probably need therapy?
You are also a musician. How does that work with your artwork? Do you listen to music when you are making artwork? If so, what kind?
It caters for all my artistic expressions! I love playing drums so much but ultimately the art takes precedence for me. I’m so grateful though that I get to do both in my life. My band is called The Great Malarkey and we are an 8 piece gypsy/folk/punk onslaught and you should make it a priority to check us out.
I listen to audiobooks more than I listen to music when I paint or draw. I enjoy reading so much but I rarely have time to sit and get through a book so this gives me the opportunity to catch up on material I’ve been wanting to read…and I find I retain the information better! I’m currently listening to ‘Mythos’, which is Stephen Fry retelling the Greek myths. With regards to music, I’m rediscovering Queens of the Stone Age and they are my current band of choice when I go running.
Where have you seen your art that completely blew your mind?
Any time I see my drawings tattooed on someone it blows my mind. I mean, that’s serious commitment to a piece, right?
What goals do you have for yourself in the future?
I want to take my art out into the streets more. It’s a new thing for me and I’ve been getting such a kick out of it….I want animals on every corner – even if they are a bit weird and scary looking.
What else…….curate more experimental shows. Spend more time travelling (outside of the band). Tour America and Japan with my band. Buy a horse and use it as my sole mode of transport. Make friends with all the crows. Collaborate with artists who make my toes tingle. Learn to make a meal that involves more than one pot. Swim with Great White sharks. Meet the person in my nightmares. Get back into tattooing.
You did a piece recently that really hit home for me. We shared it on our Facebook page and it's what made us reach out to you. Seems that a few pieces of yours deal with mental health issues. Is that an important issue for you? What do you think making artwork that speaks to so many people does for them? And why do you do artwork that focuses on mental health issues?
I appreciate that, thank you. Yes, mental health is a very important issue for me and not least because I’ve had my own struggles in the past, and still do. In my experience, art is like a form of therapy and what I cannot articulate in words (which I find hard to do), I can exorcise on paper or canvas. When I first started putting my work out into the public domain, it didn’t really occur to me that it might resonate with other people because it was so deeply personal to my own experiences. That’s what’s so wonderful about creating art….we can connect with one another on a somewhat spiritual or subliminal level, and to stir something within another human being, well that’s just great.
Do you prefer Oreo or Fudgee-O cookies?
I’m not a huge fan of Oreos (have I blasphemed??) and I’ve never heard of Fudgee-O cookies. Are they like Jammy Dodgers?