Folk art is thought of as an expression of culture through the creation and construction of utilitarian objects that convey meaning and value to the artist or others within culture. Typically the patterns, motifs, techniques and materials have special significance and can reveal a great deal about about the essential values or characteristics of a society, My next maker Jo Langley is an Australian artist who is fascinated with folk art and she reveals the very substrate of our culture in her exploration of repetitive pattern and her use of new media. Her beautiful works can be seen in her etsy store DigitalFolkArt
Can you tell me a little about your background?
I live in Blackheath at the top of the beautiful Blue Mountains west of Sydney, with my 19 year old daughter and partner Glen. We relocated from Sydney recently after I finished working as a Graphic Designer and Illustrator for the NSW Department of Education and Communities.
What do you make?
I make digital collages. That is I create my artworks on the computer and print them myself on an inkjet printer, using archival inks and museum quality paper.
What attracted you to this particular medium? How did you get started?
I developed my skills with Photoshop and other digital image softwares in the course of my work as a Graphic Designer and Illustrator. I have an abiding interest in, and have worked extensively with (non-digital) collage. Plus I LOVE everything Folk Art. My digital collages were born from this seemingly unrelated mix of interest and expertise! My aim is to produce images that possess a richness, warmth and intimacy, despite coming to be via what people would typically describe as the cold medium of the computer.
How long have you been making?
I have been developing the digital artworks that appear in my Etsy shop for approximately 18 months. Prior to that I experimented with physical collage/mixed media when I had the time.
How does your practice fit in with your everyday life? Do you have your own studio space and when do you work and where?
After working in full-time paid employment for many years I am currently making the most of an opportunity to do my own work (for now) from home whenever I feel the urge! It is quite addictive and relatively easy to keep up the continuity as there is no 'setting up' or 'cleaning up' required when producing artworks on a computer! We are fortunate to have a spare bedroom upstairs, which has become my studio.
What are the best and worst aspects about working with this medium?
Creating artworks on a computer is very convenient. As mentioned I don't have to 'set up' or 'clean up', as is the case with traditional art forms. The digital elements in my pieces come from a variety of sources, and can be re-used in so many ways. That is you don't have the problem of a limited number of ingredients as is the case with physical collage. But my artist's sensibility and experience is being extensively utilised when making decisions about composition, colour, texture, tonality, pattern and depth.
The down side is that sitting for extended periods at a computer is not good for anyone! I often have to force myself to move away and have a break. I do this by going to the gym or a yoga class, walking, having a coffee or doing housework.
Who or what inspires you?
I am inspired by all forms of Folk Art. I have always been interested in pattern and repetition. The effects created by layering one thing on top of another - whether digitally or through more conventional mediums - also excite and inspire me. I also love Mid Century art, architecture, design and illustration.
Do you get creative blocks? If so, how do you deal with it?
Yes I do get creative blocks. I find it's best to have a break when this happens. Do something altogether different. Returning to your work with a fresh eye can make all the difference in finding a solution to the inevitable visual problems that arise from time to time. But sometimes that's easier said than done. That is it can be hard to drag myself away, even when i know i'm falling further into a black hole! In these situations its a relief when I finally manage to stand up and walk away.
What other mediums would you love to explore?
I have recently learnt to crotchet, with a view to creating crotcheted art works. This interest has circuitously evolved from the creation of my Digital Folk Art when I started seeing granny squares in some of the pieces! Who knows where that will lead but meanwhile I am enjoying developing a very different skill. And it's a great antidote to sitting at the computer.
What do you hope to do next with your practice?
I would love to resume my work with physical collage. Perhaps even recontextualising parts of my existing DigitalFolk Art prints with paint and other media.