Artist interview - Mariann Johansen-Ellis

Artist interview - Mariann Johansen-Ellis

Our community of artists is the core foundation of Artfinder. With such a vast community based in all corners of the world, we wanted to help them share more about their artist journey, their artistic process and technique and what inspires them. Today, we chat with one of our amazing printmakers, Mariann Johansen-Ellis.

Can you introduce yourself, where you are from and how long you have been with Artfinder for?

I am a printmaker and painter called Mariann Johansen-Ellis. I have been with Artfinder since 2016 and am originally from Denmark, but moved to Sweden at a young age and grew up there. I have since lived a rather patchwork life as to where I have been based, which is why Artfinder is the perfect answer for me. I lived in Spain for almost 25 years, where I also met my husband who worked abroad so this meant a bit of a nomadic life for a while with stays in Brunei, a long spell in Singapore and later Bahrain. When my husband retired we decided to relocate to Denmark to look after my mum and now live on the small island of Møn in the south of Denmark, a beautiful place to live, untouched beaches and Unesco biosphere status means loads of inspiration for me.

How would you describe your work?

I love looking at the small things in life that gives us pleasure, nature, animals, the wonders that nature presents us with every day, but also the comical, funny and slightly bizarre that us humans get up to. I am not so interested in any political statements but more in recognising that we are all alike, wherever we are from, we all love and treasure family and friendships. We might laugh at different things, but we all love to laugh, and it gives me so much joy me when people looking through my prints are delighted and inspired to laugh.

What influences you and your work?

Clearly nature is my greatest inspiration, but I rarely work from reality, preferring to turn it around in my head and work from the ideas that generate in there. I love to include a humourous twist to my work.

What does your creative process involve?

Being a printmaker is quite a practical medium, tools, copper, lino knives and printmaking presses can look daunting but to me the very processes you go through as a printmaker is a space to think, preparing linoplates or copperplates, gives me a calm and that is where most of my ideas and motifs originate, in that using my hands space, ideas have time to form in my head. From the first print I made, I knew printmaking was for me and have, over the 20 years I have been a printmaker, put together a studio where I have everything I need.

Have you changed as an artist overtime?

Absolutely, I never cease to learn new techniques to be used for new kinds of prints, I hope I have gotten both technically better and imaginatively better at my craft and how I use it. If I repeat anything it is because I am not done with the subject, or find new angles to it. A red thread through my work though is animals, they are my favourite subject!

What’s your favourite artwork you created and why?

That is difficult, as an artist, don't you always love what you just created the best? I have some prints that stand out, maybe because I caught something just right, mostly my favourites are from situations that I really enjoyed, like the geese that greeted me visiting the house of a new friend, or the swallows wheeling overhead on a bright yellow rapeseed field.

What do you think is the role of art/artists in society?

To provide relief, relief from worries and the stress that the news now puts on us. I believe that art can give joy, give pleasure and provide a space for contemplation and calm. Filling your house with art you love, makes it your space, your hideaway from the world outside. I think art is as necessary as the air we breathe and the water we drink.

What advice do you have for emerging artists looking to make a living out of their art career?

Prepare yourself for a large dose of persistence, to be found today is quite tricky, so persistence is a vital ingredient. Don't give up, keep plugging away, making new work. I could give a long long speech on how to succeed selling on the net, but the main ingredient is, be persistent, keep putting up new work, a netshop is no different to a brick and mortar shop, new work is essential to keep eyes on you. It also helps to have a bit of money of course, to advertise where you can but mostly, make new work and show it.

Cover image via Mariann Johansen-Ellis

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