First few basic questions, who are you, what are you doing, where are you coming from?
Hej! I am Johanna Hooper, 36 years old, born and raised in Berlin, Germany, wife to an amazingly talented musician, and mother of two wonderful boys. We live tucked away in a little-known corner of Berlin, close to the woods & surrounded by water – which provides some peace and quiet during these strange times we’re all living in.
Why do you do collages? What does the medium give to you?
My path to collages, or even art, was pretty indirect actually. When I was younger, dance was my biggest passion. I always saw art as a way to just balanced it all out and began working/playing a lot with paint, paper, glue, and scissors. I come from an artistic family, and we spent weekends and evenings filling our time with crafts. I was always interested in creating, but somehow never saw art as my main purpose in life. Dancing was my main focus. My mother and grandmother were art teachers and artists – and I just didn’t see myself following the same path. After quitting my dance career, I started studying communications & arts at the University of Arts in Berlin and that was when I reanimated my creative side. After graduating, I began work in the commercial film industry and have been in it for a long time now. Creating art and collages simply helped/helps me to get through life from a young age to where I’m at now. It was not until my now-husband finally convinced me to take myself more seriously in doing art that I started creating on a regular basis and trying different techniques – and I found a love for collages. There is magic for me in the process of taking something that already exists and turning it into something new. Working on my art gives me inner peace and balances me out. I stop thinking. I only concentrate on the shapes, the colours, all the lines.
You craft your works with various flowy shapes and elements beautifully mixed with human parts – How do you see your style has grown/developed to this point?
I would say those flowy parts and lines I use come from an aesthetical view that’s manifested in me since my early ballet years.
I always like it when lines and shapes almost invisible merge into each other. I love it when a piece has a lot of movement in it. Over time, I think my pieces got more and more abstract, and I added different techniques and am still experimenting a lot. I have a pretty concrete idea of what I aesthetically like, so my pieces always have to somehow align with that. Also, I love working while listening to my husband play music. He plays piano when he drinks his coffee in the morning, and I fully dive into the process as long as I can.
Do you have favorite materials you like to use, or do you like the challenge of working with something new?
I’m always open to new things when it comes to creating, but when I work on collages I mainly concentrate on paper, glue, scissors, leaf gold, and maybe paint. I haven’t really tried anything with other materials, mainly because I’ve got a very small studio space here – but perhaps it is time. I’ve been working a lot digitally recently though.
Which elements in your works reflect you the most?
Movement and moving shapes. I’m always moving. Inside or outside. Working on collages transitions my inner movement somehow onto the paper & shapes.
What’s your idea of the perfect artwork? Or is it even possible to create?
Can a piece of art be perfect? I don’t think so. Perfection to me is a really strong word and not necessarily a good one. While working on a piece, I never have the intention of creating something perfect. I more focus on creating something that pleases my eyes, visualizes my emotion and can stand my view of aesthetics, which translates my ideas or communicates my desires. Even if something would be “perfect” for me, it doesn’t mean it’s perfect for everyone else and the other way around – so my idea is more to create a piece of art that touches, that people can understand and triggers their imagination.
” Sometimes it’s a simple match of all the things I’ve got laying on my desk, sometimes it takes me days or weeks to find fitting shapes.”
How easy or hard is it to finish your works? Do you ever get burnt out on a piece, and what do you do to keep working and being productive?
Usually, I start a new artwork when I get inspired by a certain piece of paper. Then I go on the hunt and look for matching pieces and actually won’t start laying things out before I have a couple of things together that might be good to combine. I could not say if a proper “preparation” makes the process more easy. Sometimes it’s a simple match of all the things I’ve got laying on my desk, sometimes it takes me days or weeks to find fitting shapes. I don’t let that stress me out though. It might happen that I have unfinished stuff lying around the house in two different rooms and then go back and forth over days or even weeks to get a piece finished.
Having started to work more digitally has given me a bit more freedom here. Especially when I work for clients, I work digitally a lot, just because it’s making the overall process a bit easier. I prefer working analog though, still.
How important is the meaning you believe a piece of art has to you? Do you want your viewers to understand or know why you made your art?
I mainly make art for myself. I honestly don’t want to force anything by putting it out there. I enjoy it when people can see emotion or power and meaning in a piece, but as I often just create for the sake of creating, it’s kind of a process of releasing tension and energy within myself. I don’t ask anyone to understand, nor get the meaning a piece has to me.
How do your art and art-making impact other parts of your life?
Art became more and more important to me, the more stressful my life got. It’s a great form for me, to release and shift energy. As I am not dancing anymore, I actually feel the need to create and use collage art as a form of my creative expression. I do think, I’m definitely more balanced the more time I actually get to work in my studio.
If you should describe your art with one word, what would it be?