Student Spotlight: Traci Johnson

“Just to be creative and be yourself is something that is going to save us and something that has always saved us”. The creations of fine artist Traci Johnson allow for individuals to see reflections of themselves within her work. Her use of vibrant colors instill a sense happiness within viewers. Viewers are also able to make what they want out of her paintings. Traci strives to express her various ideas and emotions through her artwork. Ultimately, she is fueled by the yearn of happiness.

Blush Magazine: When did you start painting, and were you ever discouraged?

Traci Johnson: I started painting when I was in high school. I took art classes here and there, but I wasn’t, like, that great. [Laughs] Then I started doing classes outside of school so it was just more fun doing that. I wasn’t ever discouraged to paint only because my family kept pushing me to do it. I was always surrounded by different creatives which made me want to better myself. I was never discouraged to stop, always encouraged to keep going.

B: Do your ideas come to you with ease?

TJ: No. Not at all. To find inspiration or things that intrigue me, I go to different galleries and museums and things like that. I also look to a lot of photographs because they have a lot of conceptual ideas on what kind of shoots they want to do, so it’s easy to get inspired and grab ideas from that. When you draw you don’t only wanna draw from what you see, but you also want to create something different.

B: Do you plan out your painting or let it flow naturally?

TJ: I let if flow naturally. The colors I see, I just do it because if I keep thinking about it, it’s never going to get done, it’s never going to come out the way I want it to. I try not to be scared about throwing paint on the canvas because the more scared you become, the more you have to think about it. You shouldn’t have to think about creating, you should just do it.

B: What has most heavily impacted your work and personal style?

TJ: That is such a hard question. [Laughs]. I guess my friends, which consist of photographers, fashion designers and artists of all types. They really impact me. Seeing them create and succeed only pushes me to do more and vice versa. Even seeing artists that came before me and seeing how they made it out of nowhere impacts me. It’s like if they are thinking this way and I’m thinking this way, something good has to come out of it.

B: Have you faced any hardships that have impacted your work?

TJ: Before this, I wanted to get more into my identity and who I am as a person, and I wanted that to impact my work. But it’s like, as I was doing it, it was kind of hard to stick to one topic. The hardships of facing subliminal racism is something that I wanted to include, but I guess it’s been pretty hard as to how I include it. Being black, being a woman of color in 2018 and how women are being held at the bottom of the totem pole, are all topics I’d like to include in my work in the future. For now, I’m trying to see how I will create it.

B: What does your ideal painting space look like?

TJ: A big, wide studio with a bunch of paint and my drawings all over the wall. People coming in so I could paint them and have them model for me. I’d want it to be super super chill.

B: What is your dream job?

TJ: I have so many. When I was in high school I wanted to be a sneaker designer because I really fell in love with the silhouettes of sneakers and how they’re created. Then I wanted to be an interior designer because I didn’t think it would be that hard. If you’re creative and see things I didn’t think it would be that hard to design a space. But for right now, I see myself selling art, being in galleries, traveling the world, and collaborating with designers.

B: What advice would you give other artists?

TJ: I would say don’t be discouraged if people don’t like your work, or if it’s different, or  if they say it’s bad or anything like that. You always have to work harder to improve your technique, to improve your mindset and ideas; that will come in time. Don’t think that you won’t make it, don’t let that stop you. You are going to make it in your own time. No one was a great artist overnight. The greatest artists already died. So just keep pushing yourself to be better and be yourself.

B What is most important to you when creating art?

TJ: I think what is most important is that I am happy with it. That the colors are very, very saturated and vibrant. I guess I want my ideas to come across in my paintings and that someone sees anything they want in them. But most importantly, I want to be happy with it. I want it to look good to me. I don’t care what anyone else thinks.

B: Why do you feel art is important to our society?

TJ: We live in a society where everyone is telling you what to do, who to be, what you’re supposed to look like. Just to be creative and be yourself is something that is going to save us and something that has always saved us. Life imitates art all the time, so if we didn’t have art it would be such a bland world. It’s important to see how people think and all of the great ideas people have because if we didn’t have it, there would be so many people lost.

B: How do you feel that your artwork contributes to society?

TJ: I feel like when you look at it, it brings life to you. It makes you very happy to be alive. My art is very vibrant, and when you are seeing all these different colors I want people to connect with them. I want each color to represent a different mood, or different personality. I think it just makes you think about who you are as a person.”

B: Which aspect of your emotions most heavily influences your work and why?

TJ: I think the aspect of me just trying to be happy influences my work. I’m just a very jolly person so colors come naturally to me. Being vibrant pours out from me into my artwork.

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