Johanna Goodman: Intimate Pop Culture Portraits
Artist Johanna Goodman’s celebrity portraits are colorful and fun, but it’s Goodman’s concentration as an artist that makes them feel alive. “I was always interested in portraiture,” Goodman says, “I would say that focus has only widened…[I] have found more disparate and varied sources of inspiration.”
So, is inspiration where the magic happens? Is it the artist’s eye, or a special process that makes these portraits come to life?
“First,” Goodman says, “there’s a lot of photo sourcing. I’ve learned that a person looks different in every photograph...You can’t really look at a single photograph and get the true sense of what someone looks like. I like to look at someone from as many angles and variations as possible, and then start the process of trying to capture them. Then I paint with ink, and sometimes oil paint, on different layers of clear plastics—much like [how] animation used to be made.”
Her portraits eschew many tenets of modern design. Instead, her work aims to find an honest, offbeat perspective. “I’m so over the look of so much contemporary imagery—mostly in advertising (which kind of infiltrates everything). I have no interest in smooth, youthful, sexy, thin, or rich...But if you look back at images from long ago, you can transcend trends...and see people as people and identify with their humanity a little more.”
When choosing her subjects, Goodman says she seeks out “a personality with a face that I love, which usually doesn’t mean [it’s] pretty—I love lines and angles and character.”
What Goodman is hoping to capture, she says, is “a likeness that brings something new to the viewer’s understanding [of] that person. I hope to say something a little different, something with my own personal perspective, while still capturing something universal enough that the viewer can recognize and relate to it.”
—Valerie San Filippo