Sarah Joncas is a young artist whose paintings are dark, surreal, and eerily beautiful. Sarah has already received some fantastic notoriety including features in both Hi Fructose and Juxtapoz websites. Showing her work internationally and selling her original paintings all over the globe, are two more feathers in her cap. Wall Hop was lucky enough to have a Q&A session with Sarah to feature on the blog section of our online art gallery.
Tell us a little bit about yourself
I’m 28, live in Toronto, enjoy romantic, long walks on the beach… ha, just kidding! Though beaches are nice. I actually recently moved back to the city after a few years in the suburbs. It’s hard for me to call anywhere home since I’ve moved so much in my life, but I feel Toronto is the closest to that now.
Although I enjoy working in many mediums, painting with oil is my favourite. I’m a quiet and introverted person and I have been described as quite ‘Canadian’, plenty of sorry’s and thank you’s.
What is your artistic background? how old were you when you started painting? What about in this style?
I’m pretty much self taught. I did do my time at OCAD after high school, but I wouldn’t say the school influenced my technical skills during that time. If anything it was my moving to the city that had the biggest impact – the environment and community, living solo. I started drawing when I could first hold a pencil started painting at 16. My style has changed drastically over the years. More illustrative in the beginning, the portraits are becoming less and less so. There are more realism and cinematic elements now.
Tell us a little bit about your style of artwork – how would you describe it.
I enjoyed anime and video games growing up and their influences can be seen in my work. Over time, my paintings have evolved further away from those early influences, though I still see a lot of pop culture in the characters and subjects I paint. Lately, I’ve been inspired by more photography and films and I think my work is developing a cinematic feel because of it. I guess I would describe them as melancholy portraits of (mostly) women navigating a world in between reality and the surreal. My paintings tend to be very private and intimate.
How have you heard others describe it?
People don’t seem as willing to share their feelings or thoughts vocally when it comes to art, at least not to me directly? I don’t get much of a sense of what others think of my paintings other than if they like it or don’t.
What are people’s reactions when they first see your work?
Many think my work is digital or airbrushed. I suppose I’m a very tight painter though, I don’t let loose very often… but when I do, I create a completely difference sort of work that is more grotesque and sarcastic. Not the kind of work people like to hang in their home… unless they’re creeps like me, haha.
Are many of your collectors also film-noir watchers, or graphic novel readers? Adding to that, who do you find your artwork typically resonates with the most?
Yes, I’ve met many collectors of mine who are also fans of noir and comics! I don’t know who are the larger base of fans though. I’ve met such a variety of people from all walks of life that have bought from me. Young women, older men, artists and lawyers…. It’s nice to see that range!
Where are you drawing your inspirations from – you mention “cartoon film-noir” – can you give some examples?
Yes, noir has always been a style I loved – the shadows and lighting, the drama and character fashion. I think it’s very beautiful and I’ve always been attracted to stories of mystery and suspense. Cartoons were very inspirational too, I had always dreamed of becoming an animator until I was about 16 and then slowly realized I really wanted to just work for myself. I prefer the solitude of painting. My first introduction to noir was through neo-noir, films like Bladerunner and Dark City as well as cartoons/anime I watched in my teens such as Neon Genesis Evangelion and Perfect Blue. These were shows that had a more sinister quality to them. Other influences included photographer, Greg Crewdson and painter, Edward Hopper that have noir like undertones.
Your subjects are predominantly women – what messages or idea are you sending through these works and characters?
I’ve recently been painting more male portraits, I’m trying to get a few out each year. It’s been a struggle, my men always came out looking a little feminine in the beginning, but with practice I’ve gotten better at them. I mostly paint women. I think being a woman myself, I can understand and work more honestly that way. I used to be very nervous about men, that somehow I couldn’t relate or identify with the subject enough to make it convincing. With time though, I enjoy the challenge and can hopefully find an audience who enjoys them as much as I’m beginning to.
With regards to the few males that you do illustrate, in your mind, how are these pieces different than their female counterparts?
At the moment, I feel my men have always carried a similar look (see below), kind of the strict businessman appearance. This isn’t always a conscious decision, but I think because my women in the past have often been in this struggle with urbanism and capitalism (my ‘mechanical brides’, as I’ve alluded), ‘the man’ also corresponds to this narrative. In the future I’d like to give my males more of a human side. There’s been emotions to them, but they aren’t nearly as vulnerable as my women.
What are you working on at the moment?
Many things! A couple themed works (one for a Jeunet and Caro show at Spoke Art, and another for a superhero themed show at Modern Eden). But my biggest project is currently a body of work for a larger show at the Last Rites Gallery in NYC this summer. I will have about 8-10 pieces for that.
What should we know about your work?
I work diligently at improving and changing with my art. It’s important for me to be better with each passing year… I don’t like the idea of becoming stagnant.
What can we expect to see from you next?
My work for the Last Rites show will no doubt be a tad darker than my usual as it’s a gothic art gallery. Expect a little mystery!
Any final thoughts, or shout outs?
Well it’s always good to suggest music to others! I listen to a lot of film scores while I paint to help get me into the mood and keep me there. I’ve been obsessing over the ‘Gone Girl OST’ since October and the Reznor and Ross scores for all the recent David Fincher movies are fantastic. If you like it eerie and intense, give them a listen!