Joy Yamusangie is a London-based artist whose work truly knows no bounds. Specialising in illustration but experimenting with a range of other traditional processes such as drawing, painting and collaging, their work often responds to issues related to race, sexuality, gender, the self, and memory.
"Simply put, I'm a freelance artist. The core of my work is storytelling from memories, dreams or creating fictional stories," Joy tells Creative Boom. "I created comics and animations as a child so that interest in telling stories is still present in my artwork today – whether it be through paintings, film or ceramics."
Their style in illustration features lines, mark-making, faces, characters and stories. Joy also believes Henri Matisse's work has inspired them greatly. "I vividly remember going to his exhibition The Cut-Outs at Tate Modern and seeing his work for the first time," they say. "All these beautiful arrangements were made with paper. It made me realise that I didn't need to have expensive materials and canvases to make art; I can use what I have around me and that's ok."
In their practice, Joy loves to experiment with new materials and learn new techniques, however, the beginning always is the same. "It starts with a pen, paper and research. The planning usually looks like a messy mind map and lots of thumbnail-sized illustrations in my sketchbook. From there, I start making," they add.
During lockdown, Joy also began lino printing again. "It's a process that I feel like I still have lots to learn but I enjoy the slow pace of it." Subsequently, Joy made a two colour self-portrait print called 'Blacks and Blues' and then collaborated with Absolut Art to turn it into a series of three prints that you can buy online.
How did Joy stay motivated during the global pandemic? "I've definitely struggled with finding the motivation to work, but simple things like drawing quick self-portraits, continuous line exercises, or the kind of activities that I'd usually plan for kids workshops have kept me creating freely without thinking too much about the outcome."