A familiar story, Juliána Chomová knew she wanted to be an illustrator when, as she and her sisters grew older, they lost interest in the cartoons on TV but she didn’t. “I was fascinated by narrations, stylisations and the way you can make ‘jokes’ in the form of shapes. I was bored when reading textbooks and preferred a more visual language and picture books,” she recalls. Originally from Košice in Slovakia, Juliána is an UMPRUM graduate with a distinctive style, one that utilises the imperfections of processes like Risograph, layering, and lots of colour.
“My biggest pleasure has always been stylisation – when I can rearrange shapes and matter in my way,” she explains. In order to do this, Juliána separates her creative practice into two areas – her “laboratory” for experimentation and her more “complete” projects which repurpose elements from this laboratory. On this, she explains: “I make free drawings where I test new ways of working for me, it’s like my own laboratory where I work with imagination in order to progress.” When these are channelled into comics or graphic novels, it’s usually in collaboration with her friend, scriptwriter Klara Vlasakova. “Our shared interest is in the psychological nature of stories and relationships,” Juliána adds.
Creatively, Juliána is someone who’s constantly pushing herself, experimenting with new techniques and ideas. “I have to always be trying different things and searching for concepts which are fresh to me,” she tells us. “I never want to be bored creatively, so I don’t stay too long in one position – I need evolution and challenge.” When reflecting on how this has shaped her work in the past few years, she says: “In general, I’ve moved from descriptive expression to a more abstracted and intuitive style. I combine lines and shapes with geometric elements – I’m trying to find a relationship or contrast between them.”
Last year, Juliána worked with Klara on a graphic novel titled Spiritualists. With more chapters on their way, the duo self-published the comic which tells the story of two women organising spiritual lessons for the public. Juliána explains: “The story is inspired by the phenomenon of mental healers and how it’s embedded in the social architecture of Czech cultural centres or hotels in small cities where very often these actions take place.”
In order to tell the story, Juliána combined several techniques and printing methods including white ink on black paper and three-colour Riso print. This amalgamation of techniques is commonplace in Juliána’s work and acts as a method of layering versions of a story, telling multiple perspectives or narratives on one page. As a result, Juliána’s work has a high level of self-expression, flitting between techniques and styles in order to create complex narratives.
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