Artist Interview: Kymberli Janine
Could you tell us a little about the artwork that you create?
My work consists of mostly pencil drawings and paintings on paper or wood, while recently branching out into digital media and exploring illustration, character design, and storytelling.
I am very inspired by painters like Rebecca Guay and Terese Nielsen, who are also both extremely prolific illustrators for Magic: The Gathering. I also look up to individuals like Yoshida Akihiko, the artist behind many Final Fantasy games including Final Fantasy Tactics and Vagrant Story. My work strives to have a dream like atmosphere. I enjoy painting scenes that have blurred edges and bright colors that play with reality, as well as a loose, whimsical narrative between youthful curious subjects and surreal encounters.
As a freelance illustrator I often work on character designs for individuals, and most of these character designs are for people playing table top/ Fantasy RPGS. It is incredibly rewarding to give a person’s character a face and personality.
What is the story behind “Interlaced” and “Entwined”?
When thinking over the prompt of “We Interrupt this Program…” I thought about my personal encounters with the male gaze. As a queer woman and artist, I wanted to make artwork that still showed a type of intimacy that spoke to me, and potentially other queer women, but was still careful not to become a commodity of the male gaze/consumption.
So, for Interlaced and Entwined, I really wanted to show a scene of intimacy. I wanted to put the subjects in the forefront, and this moment depicted, belonged to them. They are also active participants – the two subjects acknowledge this in a knowing look back to the viewer. Simply put, they are aware of their viewers, but they do not welcome them in. The embrace they share from both sides, and the moment between them belongs only to them. They hold onto each other and have no interest in outstretching a hand to the viewer, or the male gaze that in other instances, may try to commodify their intimacy.
What is your preferred medium? What draws you to it?
I tend to work mostly in pencil and watercolor. I enjoy making marks on paper and the process and relationship that comes from turning that paper into a painting. Watercolor is a slow medium, since it requires patience to let things dry or else they get pulled up with the next layer of work, but you can also play with the layering process by leaving some marks visible and letting a lot of transparency through.
I also enjoy embellishing a lot of my paintings with gold ink- as a nod to illuminated manuscripts. I feel that embellishments add to the dream atmosphere, and alongside bright colors like the red used in Interlaced and Entwined give a magical feeling.
What are some of your current and future projects?
I am currently writing and illustrating an original story called Arcana Facta. This has been a very important project as it explores themes of Self Identity, Family, and Friendship (among many others) through the perspective of a young girl and her friends in a typical fantasy setting with some modern takes on magic, race and society.
I am also in the process of creating a new body of paintings for a solo exhibition in Long Island New York. These paintings will express my earliest inspirations to make art; the Iconography of the Madonna, and Titania, Queen of Faeries. I am going to be presenting my interpretation of some of my favorite legends and myths while paying homage to some Mythological, Religious and Royal Icons.
What drives you to center most of your work around strong women in fantasy settings?
To be frank, I think that women’s stories are interesting and important. The saying often goes that behind every powerful man is a strong woman. I have always been far more interested in the stories that focus on that strong woman. I have always been a supporter of young girls having stories to inspire them. I also think that fantasy is an enjoyable allegory for many lessons that anyone can learn, teach, and by inspired by.
As someone that creates fantastical art, how do you feel fantasy art has changed over the past few years?
I am increasingly hopeful that we will continue to see more imagery that supports women as capable figures and less as accessories to Male protagonists. While Frank Frazetta was an incredible artist and paved the way for many mainstream fantasy artwork, I would encourage artists to challenge those conventions in character design and storytelling. I think the damsel in distress is a bit played out, and I do think that mentality is shifting and looking for other narratives to tell.
I am very glad to see more representation in terms of Gender Diversity and Queer/ LGBTQA* relationships. I hope that this trajectory will continue to allow not just diverse stories and artwork, but, stories and art that are created by these diverse cultures, and that we can promote creators who in the past, have not been noticed.
For more of Kymberli’s art and updates on new projects, follow @kymjanine.
- On May 13, 2018