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artist to artist: julianna swaney (questions by danielle krysa)

January 20, 2012



The second installment of “Artist to Artist” features two of my fave ladies, Julianna Swaney and Danielle Krysa.  Julianna has been one of my favorite artists since I curated a show featuring her work a few years ago.  At that same time, the always generous Danielle Krysa, wrote about the exhibit on her fantastic art blog, The Jealous Curator.  I felt like the luckiest guy in the world.  I got the chance to work with one of my favortie artists, AND I got a write-up on my favorite art blog.  Who would have thought that just a couple of years later both of these artists would be a part of Paper House Press?  I definitely feel like the luckiest guy in the world.  🙂 

Please enjoy this latest installment of “Artist to Artist” featuring Julianna Swaney, with questions by Danielle Krysa:

 Julianna Swaney



Danielle Krysa (DK):  Your work is like getting a glimpse into a beautiful/bizarre fairytale – where do your ideas come from? Dreams? Pure imagination?

Julianna Swaney (JS):  This question is always hard for me! I guess it depends on what I’m working on.  I usually get inspired by a fragment of a memory, or of a story I heard once, or an image I saw, and I elaborate the idea in my sketchbook before I arrive at the final idea for a piece. Sometimes I’ll see something specific, like a person in an old daguerreotype, and I’ll have to do a piece specifically to fit them into it. Sometimes I just start sketching on an idea, it starts to take shape, and I go from there.


DK:  There is an undeniable narrative in all of your work… do you ever imagine the dialogue that might take place? (I do!)

JS: I don’t really imagine anything as linier as a narrative. This will probably sound strange but I tend to imagine the sounds that would be heard within the piece; bird song, leaves crunching under feet, crickets chirruping. I feel like in many of my pieces you’re seeing the moment just before the action takes place, and half the time I don’t know what that action will be myself!


DK:  You grew up surrounded by nature, and now you’re based in the lovely city of Portland. What’s your life like there? Do you still spend a lot of time outside exploring, or does your work mainly come from childhood memories?

JS:  I wouldn’t say living in Portland or the Pacific Northwest has influenced my work directly so much as I sort of gravitated here naturally because I like forest and mountains and rainy days.


DK:  I read that you love to crochet. Do fibre arts/textiles ever enter into your work? (Maybe some real mittens for those wolves?)

JS:  Actually for me crocheting is more like a nice break from drawing/artwork. It’s nice because there is a set pattern, you don’t have to think too much, and at the end you have a solid object to show for all your hard work. Drawing can be so ephemeral, I find working with something more solid refreshing.


DK:  Speaking of wolves… I love all of your wolves! In fairytales they’re always the bad guys – how do you view them?

JS:  Sometimes good, sometimes sinister, definitely tricksters.


DK:  As a full time artist (so inspiring by the way!), do you ever take a break? What do you do to recharge your creative batteries?

JS:  Oh yes! Breaks are important for me because I can get drained and pessimistic really easily. Reading is always good for recharging. When I don’t actually feel like working I always tell myself that reading IS productive so it’s okay to read all day. Getting out of the house is also good, just going for a walk is really therapeutic for me. And, like I mentioned before crocheting, or working in any other medium actually, can be a refreshing break.


Thanks to Julianna and Danielle for the great Q&A!  By the way, if you want to see original work available from both of these artists (and you DO…trust me) please head on over to the Paper House Press online shop!

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