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Johanna Goodman: Illustrator Extraordinaire

Johanna, I first learned of your work through the store West Elm. I was intrigued with your whimsical digital collages seen on vases, dishes, pillows, etc. I bought a lot of your pieces that day and was thrilled to learn that the brand collaborates with artists quite often.

How did that particular collaboration come about and what was it like to work with such a large corporate client?

The West Elm collaboration came about because my husband (Sculptor, Rodger Stevens) did a collaboration with them first and they came to know of my work through him. It was a lot of fun working with them and getting a glimpse into the inner workings of a company that big. They were supportive of my work and didn’t impose any restrictions on me at all. I really enjoyed having input as far as choosing what products to make and then choosing the materials and details of each piece. I’ve started working with some other large companies recently and I love seeing what the possibilities can be, for example I started making skateboard decks with Habitat Skateboards and they blew me away. And especially cool to see the boards in action.

Please talk about your process as each piece you create is unique yet they all read as being yours. Do you start on an iPad Pro? What inspires each series?

I work using a combination of materials - both analog (cut and paste paper and glue) mixed with digital (photoshop). I love that The Catalogue of Imaginary Beings series is mine and that I have complete control over what to make and how to make it! I am also an Illustrator and am quite accustomed to making work to satisfy a concept, story and client so this is a nice break from that. I get inspiration from everything around me - I try to remain open to anything that might inspire - art in museums, tag sales, my kids’ work, old photos, people on the street, the natural surroundings of my neighborhood, as well as some of the unnatural surroundings. I also try on occasion to find inspiration, and not only anxiety and consternation, from the world and crazy workings of the world. I’m working now making art with a grass roots, women-run non-profit called “Persisticon” whose mission is to raise money to support and elect women into government office. I find that empowering and hopeful.

What does “The Catalogue of Imaginary Beings” mean to you and how did it come about?

The series began as a fun way to work with a whole lot of fabric scraps left over from a sewing project (I’m also an obsessive sewer). I began to build monumental woman whose bodies, or outfits, were made from these scraps. It was a pure delight for me. I later expanded into building these figures from things other than fabric, from photos of mountains and buildings and animals and anything else.

The Subway Series for the MTA- incredible that you are one of the artists seen below ground. Was that a commission process or did you have to apply for that series?

The MTA Poster Project was a totally fabulous project. The MTA approached me and commissioned me, basically told me to just do my thing, interpreting the New York City subway system in any way I wanted. It was, and still is, a huge kick to see my work reproduced as large posters all over the subway platforms of NYC! Equally fun was when they made them into gigantic, towering banners in Grand Central Station! The MTA has worked with some amazing Artists and I feel honored to among them.

What has been your favorite piece to date and why?

I don’t think I could possibly choose any one of my pieces as my favorite as they are all my babies and they all have their stories of how they came to fruition, each of which is important to me in building the series as a whole. What is next for you?

Right now I am consumed with making my first home design collection! I absolutely love that I have even more creative control when it’s just me. Like for he new throw pillows I’ve just started making I decided I wanted to wrap the design all the way around the pillows and collage-in a few more elements into the stories onto the backs! And I continue to do lots of Illustration for Publication in Magazines and Newspapers.

I can’t talk about exactly what’s next for me until it’s official but I’m working on some exciting projects that involve more large-scale public installation of my Beings as well as some cool private installations, and some very small products :) But essentially, my main plan is to keep the series going as I still find it as gratifying to work on at Plate No. 300 as I did at Plate No.1.

Where can our readers learn more about both you and your work?

To see more and learn more about my work go to my Artist’s website:

My Catalogue of Imaginary Beings shop:

And here are some articles written about me:


Ms. Magazine:

We Are the Frontier, New Zealand:

And there are lots more links like those in the ‘About’ section of my Artist’s site:

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