Mari Kanstad Johnson’s illustrations have a remarkable edge. A mix of watercolour, thick paint marks next to thinner ones, digital works, brighter than bright colour palettes, characterful faces and elongated limbs, Mari’s work is wonderful.
Understandably, Norwegian weekly publication, Morgenbladet, commission Mari on a regular basis, asking her to illustrate accompaniments to articles on subjects such as emotional therapy or an unsolved murder-case.
Three illustrations in particular by the illustrator for Morgenbladet caught our attention immediately with their palpable narrative. The trio were drawn in relation to an article “about harassment of female academics in an institution dominated by men,” a subject that once you look at the illustrations is clear and precise in Mari’s use of objects and expression. “I focused a lot on the emotional aspect of the text,” the illustrator tells It’s Nice That. “I used warm colours to emphasise a certain suffocating feeling in the theme, also a liquid/underwater feeling in the pencil/brush lines.”
The aforementioned piece on emotional therapy sees Mari’scolour matching technique reach a maximum peak. “Morgenbladet wanted both a small illustration of each feeling described in this therapy,” she explains. “I got a list of each feeling with both an analytical explanation and a description of how it manifests in the face. I used a lot of colours to get the feelings most powerfully conveyed.”
Others, featured below, include an article on a “debate discussing a certain laziness in the Norwegian humanoid-field,” she says. “I worked quite directly with some lines in the text describing them as cats lying in the sun. I wanted to make a colourful, funny image showing a cosy park scene,” an imaginative and ideal way of illustrating feeling lazy.
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