It's been a while since I first came across Juuri's work in some art magazine at Barnes and Noble. I reached out to her over a year ago to see if she'd be interested in having us display some of work and she actually did us one better and decided to release an exclusive print through us in addition to several other limited edition prints now available at the gallery. She recently put together a quick video of her process and we hope this will be the first of many.
Photos and Interview by Andrew Alcasid
Can you describe the concept behind your latest series?
The idea behind Soul Manifest is that I was seeing different types of people every day, viewing and grouping them in my mind. And seeing all these characteristics that were being repeated, but each person is an individual. The idea is that I personally believe that every person has a soul and what if that soul was visually interpreted to represent that person’s subconscious or who that person actually is, or what they might be going through or feeling and trying to translate that. So taking these people, you can as a viewer, make up their life story, their background. Then you can project the soul or being that is a part of them or behind them, like they’re carrying them around, or it's carrying them.
Are these individuals aware of this “part” of them?
Some pieces, maybe they’re more aware of, more in tune with that side of themselves. Some are really disconnected. Maybe it’s a side of them that they’re more unaware of and sometimes it could be the complete opposite of who they portray to the world.
Who are these characters? Are they drawn from life or imaginative?
I kind of take snap shots in my mind of certain people who impact me or leave an impression on me so I pulled from my “archive” and made these fictional people based on those individuals.
What mediums are you using?
These are colored pencil and ink (micron). Then I use mineral spirits and a blending stump to break down the wax in the colored pencil to give it that really fluid look so you don’t see the mark making as much. That’s how I get really fluid transition of color. Almost like watercolor.
Would you consider colored pencil your specialty?
I would say my specialty is drawing. I haven’t worked with color pencil in a long time. Before this, I spent maybe a year and a half drawing black and white. But it was just really calling to me and beckoning me to work with it again so when I was working with the concept of this series, the first thing I knew was that I wanted it to be in color. I wanted to work in colored pencil.
What are your favorite art stores?
Since Art Stash popped up around the corner, that’s basically where I go to for everything. For being such a small space, they have so much. It’s perfect for being so close and it’s literally right around the corner.
Are you works exploring “darkness” or do you consider it “dark”?
You know, that’s funny. I never think so, but that seems to be the reaction a lot of the time, that people view it as almost a darker subject matter, but I don’t see it that way. Maybe because it’s my work and I have this whole back story in my mind, but generally I would say it ultimately tends to lean towards the darker side. I’m very emotionally invested in everything I create so I think it gives me a chance to pour a lot onto paper.
What is your creative process like?
I’m a planner, so I never think of just one image. It’s immediately followed by ten more in my mind. Even with this series, I have 3 volumes of sketchbooks now, but these pieces are all planned out here. I did my conceptual drawing first where they started out more geometric, started sketching another piece, and I could see in my mind by drawing it on paper what to do for the next step. With these, I was exploring the concept and pushing it further and I knew what I wanted to do and was able to create my characters.
How do you know when a piece is finished?
I’m a firm believer that a piece is never finished but there is a point where I make myself stop.
What artists inspire you?
I pull inspiration from different artists like Gustav Klimt, Frida Kahlo, Eric Jones, and Jean Giraud (Moebius), the French illustrator, and Miyazaki. Spirited Away is one of my all time favorite films. The imagery blows my mind every time I watch it. If I’m ever feeling like I’m getting an artist block, I watch that and it unlocks my mind and lets everything flow again so I definitely pull a lot of inspiration from his artwork and his creativity.
Did you watch lot of animation growing up?
Growing up, I watched a lot of animation and looked at a lot of comics, but not anime. I have always been influenced mostly by the comic world. It was my goal when I was 12 to become a comic book illustrator. I was completely enveloped in everything X-Men and Batman, and I think that still comes through in my work. That type of animation has always influenced me.
What u do you do for fun outside of art?
I don’t have a lot of free time because of my job, but I do love the beach, as cliché as that sounds. I love to just be there. I love to be in the sand and just read when I go to the beach. If I'm not there, I'm in La Mesa. I think it’s the coolest town. It’s so small and it has this village feel. I really enjoy walking up and down La Mesa Blvd, spending a lot of time in the coffee shop Cosmos. I’ll zone out and sketch or I’ll read.
What is the most difficult thing about being an artist?
The most difficult thing is not having art be my main focus as a career. At least for now, I have to have that other job to support myself, as opposed to just being able to create and focus purely on that, and that for me is actually really frustrating. I just want to work on my art.
What do you want viewers to take from this show?
I want them to be able to relate on some type of emotional level. I want them to look at it and say, “That’s kind of like me.” I try to always leave a level of ambiguity to give it more of a relatable feeling, so you can place yourself into the piece, to replace the character with yourself. For me, it’s all about the emotional connection. For someone to be able to see a piece and be able to feel something, feel directly connected to the work.