“My dino fascination faded before I got into my teens, but I never gave up on creating art,” admitted Sarah Joncas when asked about her childhood obsession with prehistoric creatures, “I had a brief moment around age five when I thought I wanted to be a paleontologist.”
Like so many of us, Sarah Joncas dreamed of digging up bones to piece together the past. Her room was filled with toys and books on the subject, she drew every kind of ‘saur that once roamed under the sun, and even organized digs in the forest near her house, but again, like many of us – that interest soon faded but her love of drawing and art remained, “After a while though I came to realize it was the act of drawing I enjoyed most.”
And that is where we pick up with Sarah Joncas as we get into why she traded not only bones for brushes, but also animation for fine art, and more…
Kendra: When you decided art was it, you wanted to head into animation. For you, what cartoons then and even now showcase the best in animation?
Sarah Joncas: I think as a kid, animation is what you’re most exposed to in the art world, so it makes sense that I would have been attracted to that field initially. Disney was the be all to end all back then, and obviously, Disney animation continues to be hugely prevalent still, but what I enjoy most in my older years now tends to be Japanese Anime (like Perfect Blue or Akira) or more experimental animation, like Fantastic Planet. Most recently the video game Gris had some beautiful animation used throughout as well! I haven’t had the pleasure of playing it myself, but just watching videos online can showcase how unique and incredible it is.
Kendra: But you traded in animation and shifted towards fine art. Was that something that came about while studying at the Ontario College of Art and Design?
Sarah Joncas: I started getting into painting and fine art during my high school years. Up until that point I had only had the chance to draw, but high school made paints and canvas available to me and I feel like I found myself in that. I loved the freedom it offered me to explore and create without anyone else’s direction. As an animator, I knew my time would likely be dedicated to another person’s vision. After I put together a good portfolio of work I had some opportunity to display it at a local community-type art show and went about selling everything I made. It wasn’t until that point I realized I may have a chance to do something career-wise with all of this. Following that intuition and my passion for painting, I gave fine art my best and pursued it into university. Now I’m still at it nearly 15 years later.
Kendra: As you said, doing the type of art you do now compared to say an animation job is more freeing in a multitude of ways. Would you agree that’s a big upside?
Sarah Joncas: Yes, of course. It was a major influencer on me shifting directions in my career choice. I’m very happy I did too! Though I continue to love animation and respect the artists in that field, painting is the perfect job for me and my personality. I love being my own boss and the independence I get from working alone.
Kendra: Most of your work showcases a variety of women in a number of settings, with the exception of some love of Jon Snow. Are these women imagined, passerbys, loved ones?
Sarah Joncas: Most of the figures I paint are made up of women, though I actually create them using a collage type method in photoshop. I’ll take photos online, photos of myself (and sometimes friends), then mesh them together to make a figure I want to use as a reference. The faces can be made up of two or three people (eyes from one or a nose from another), or I’ll pose myself to make up the bodies, take a photo of a specific shirt I want to use, invent other elements for them. Each one is different, but where my girls used to be wholly imagined, I’m now able to achieve better realism with these visuals I put together.
Kendra: Why do you feel the female form has always been highly regarded in the world of art?
Sarah Joncas: I think many people of both sexes find women visually attractive, and maybe as a culture, we’ve simply gotten comfortable with that being the case – afraid to switch around those gender norms. Not that men aren’t attractive to look at though, there’s certainly a lot of painted/sculpted males out in the world too, but traditional femininity has been labeled more vulnerable, emotional and beautiful in society. When it comes to painting women myself, however, it feels quite sincere and cathartic since I identify and am one – as though I’m able to put my own thoughts and feelings into the characters more honestly.
Kendra: For more than a decade your work has been shown off in galleries all over the world. What are some that you’re hoping to cross off your bucket list in the near future?
Sarah Joncas: I’ve always been a simple person to please and have never wanted or asked for too much from my life. All I truly wanted growing up was to be able to paint and make a living off of it, so if that opportunity continues to bless me as it has, I feel I couldn’t ask for too much more. I recently got married to a wonderful man, we share a house, I’ve gotten to see and visit parts of the world I thought I could only dream of seeing! I’m sincerely happy. All I hope for is to continue painting and living life with good health and a loving family alongside, the rest is icing.
Kendra: Other than more potential gallery shows, what are you working on these days that you can tell us about?
Sarah Joncas: I’m afraid that’s mostly what I am working on and towards right now! The only other project I’m trying to put some time towards are illustrations I make for online t-shirt shops like Redbubble and Tee public. However, it’s only a spare time kind of deal right now and not a large endeavor.