First published December 14, 2021
Our final feature of 2021 is a gem! Meet Javie, a London-based, freelance British-Chilean illustrator. The last year has been an exciting one for her and, as it comes to a close, she’s taking some time to reflect on all that she’s achieved. Not least, designing for Claudia Andujar’s exhibition at the Barbican! Read on to discover how she used comics to help navigate her identity, why creating socially engaged artwork is so important to her, and the project she’s always wanted to work on. We can’t wait to see what Javie does in 2022, and beyond!
Photo credit: Mario Washington Ihieme (@maz_o)
Javie, what’s your creative occupation?
Where have you been?
I’m largely self-taught and I’ve always loved drawing, but I felt really pressured to do something academic when I was growing up. However, it was during my undergrad degree that I started making comics and drawing began to be a real catharsis for me. To begin with, it was the way I navigated my identity. I loved that I could also create art that reflected the experiences of people so often left out of mainstream stories and conversations.
In 2018, I decided to do an MA in Children’s Literature and Illustration at Goldsmith’s and this is when I really started to pursue illustration. More than anything, the MA allowed me to have a year to work on my craft which I wouldn’t otherwise have had the chance to do. It also took that year to realise how much joy I get from doing socially engaged artwork. I didn’t want to take a commercial route, so really took my time to explore my craft in the ways that made me happy. That’s how I ended up doing a lot of editorial illustration; it’s allowed me to merge both art and societal issues that feel important to me.
I get a lot of fulfilment from merging my politics with illustration. I will continue to centre social justice in my work, and platform marginalised voices. JAVIE ON FUTURE PROJECTS
Where are you now?
This year has been really special. Some highlights include designing a children’s Activity Sheet for the Claudia Andujar: The Yanomami Struggle exhibition at the Barbican. Also, more recently I’ve been part of Camden Town Brewery’s ‘Fresh Prints’ campaign curated by gal-dem, alongside 8 other incredible artists of colour. It’s been so surreal seeing my artwork in supermarkets! Really excited for what next year holds.
Where are you going?
What I do know is that I would love to do more book illustrations. I’ve always wanted to design a book cover for a novel, or even to illustrate a whole cookbook, so I’m putting those things out into the world. It’s also super important to me that I keep using art as advocacy because I get a lot of fulfilment from merging my politics with illustration. I will continue to centre social justice in my work, and platform marginalised voices. Other than that, I’m keeping really open. I’m eager to learn and explore more areas of illustration.
Finally, what’s occupying your thoughts today?
I always feel very pensive towards the end of the year and I tend to take this time to reflect. Freelancing can be very unpredictable, especially when you chuck a pandemic into the mix. In these quieter periods of work, I find it’s more important than ever to take a step back and feel proud of all you’ve achieved.