Your work often depicts people, plants and animals. Where do you find the inspiration and themes?
People as well as flora and fauna are an inexhaustible source of inspiration. I’m sensitive to moods and people’s sentiments, and I’m curious about everything I come across in nature. In my works, I want to combine poetry and imagination with anatomy and natural sciences. I try to find a mystery and then develop a new, creative language, new stories and new references.
In the history of humankind, I’m particularly interested in collection and migration: for 40,000 generations, people were nomads and collectors, whereas the modern way of staying in one place is a very new phenomenon. Collecting things and wandering in the nature give me the same kind of joy of seeking, finding and realisation as painting does.
As a part of my profession, I obviously also follow the trends in illustration and exhibitions, albeit not as actively as I used to. I took art history classes at the university and I still study it. A single brush stroke may sometimes enthral me; experiencing beauty gives me a great pleasure.
I like to call you an “artist who listens”. What is it like to adapt to the wishes of your customers?
For quite a while now, most of my work has been commissioned: illustrations, portraits and murals. Co-operating with customers, publishers and authors is fun and fruitful. A free artist might find it abhorrent to receive instructions, but I prefer a dialogue with different sectors to painting alone and only for myself in my studio. I’m no longer exhibiting as often as I used to, so without any feedback from my customers I would not receive any criticism at all. And painting without receiving any feedback would be like calling out into an empty forest. I must say, though, that the amount of instructions I’ve received has always been minimal and I’ve been given a free hand to follow my own vision.
Artists and illustrators are often known for their unique and identifiable hand and style. I like variety, however, and I’m interested in too many things to concentrate on only one style. I like to vary the techniques I use as well, but aquarelle painting has become my preferred form of expression.
A protean and versatile artist, you are a rare breed of Renaissance woman.
I feel very lucky that my own business allows me to combine the various fields I have studied: information studies, e-commerce, marketing, graphic design and art. I’m aware of the risk of versatility, though: if you are too much of a jack of all trades, you might actually never master one. Versatility is most useful when creating illustrations for the customers of advertising agencies: the final product reflects the advertiser’s own brand and not Julia Janka. When necessary, I can be a bit of a chameleon!