In the words of illustrator and ink evangelist Johanna Basford:
‘ Tumble down the rabbit hole and find yourself in my inky black and white Wonderland.’
And what a Wonderland it is. An intricate world of flora and fauna cultivated by a curious imagination and a delight in the fantastic; meticulously detailed with hidden intricacies and a dash of the unexpected.
With a client list including The Scottish Government, Umbro, BrewDog, Absolut Vodka, Sony Music and Starbucks, to name but a few, it’s clear to see Johanna Basford’s graphic and quirky style has already made its indelible mark.
It gives me great pleasure to share with you Johanna Basford’s Wonderland.
Hi Johanna, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I was born in Aberdeen and grew up in rural Aberdeenshire. My parents have a freshwater fish farm there, so I had a pretty free range childhood – always outside making dens or paddling in the burn. After secondary school I studied Printed Textile design at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in Dundee, and then stayed in the city for another 4 years before heading back up to Aberdeenshire again.
What’s your earliest art related memory?
When I was about 3, my Dad had been using Black Tar Paint in the garden. He left the paint pot and brush in the hallway (which was painted white), so I of course came along and seized the opportunity to create my first monochrome wall mural.
Who or what made you want to study art?
I’ve just never wanted to do anything else.
What has been your career highlight?
Having my solo show Wonderlands at the DCA has been pretty darn cool. I also really loved working on the Edinburgh Fringe covers in 2010.
What is your dream project?
I’d like to get my hands on a Selfridges window…
What are you doing when you’re not creating?
I love being outdoors, so if I can escape the studio I like to take our Labrador, Simcoe (or Studio Pup as I like to call him!) for long walks. I always get my best ideas when I’m outside.
Describe a perfect day in the life of Johanna Basford.
Any day containing the following is pretty near perfection:
And now for some quick-fire questions on your favourite places in Scotland :
The Royal Mile to people watch
The Degree Shows (I’m biased towards DJCAD!) to find the best art
The DCA shop or Concrete Wardrobe in Edinburgh to shop
Musa, Aberdeen to eat out
Orchid in Aberdeen (I painted the mural behind the bar!) to party
Isle of Arran (where my dad’s family is from) to relax
And finally, what’s next for Johanna Basford?
My book, Wonderlands, which I’ve co-published with the DCA is being launched on Saturday 15th June at the gallery. I’m doing a talk about my work and there’s also a Craft Fair. The book is an inky collection of my work, old and new, featuring some lovely photographs of the gallery work by my friend Sam Brill. The book has been designed by fellow DJCAD grad Richy Lamb of Owned and Operated. Each book has a silk screen printed dust jacket that I printed by hand in the DCA print studio. This was a bigger task than I had imagined, but I’m so glad we did it!
Johanna’s exhibition Wonderlands at Dundee Contemporary Arts runs until 7 July. You can also join Johanna and Graham Domke, Exhibitions Curator at DCA, on Sat 15 June for Inside Wonderlands when they will be discussing creating the exhibition and Johanna’s career since graduating from DJCAD in 2005. This event will also mark the launch of a new publication to accompany the exhibition.
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