The Q&A: Johanna Goodman

By Peggy Roalf   Monday October 12, 2015

Q: Originally from Long Island, what are some of your favorite things about living and working in Nyack, NY?

A: I've always lived in a town on the water. I love being part of a small, groovy, friendly village that's close to the big, groovy, crazy city. I feel like I figured out a way to have it all ... or a lot at least.

Q: Do you keep a sketchbook? What is the balance between the art you create on paper versus in the computer?

A: God, no! The idea of a sketchbook is scary and claustrophobic for me. I'm a very big fan of eradicating the drawings I make that I don't like and temporarily hiding the ones I do. I would hate to have my work forever bound together in a book in a set order. I do a lot of hanging my work on the wall for a while to refer to and reflect upon, periodically taking stuff down and rearranging. I get sick of things and need to see them in new light (or not at all). Needless to say I do not have any tattoos.

When drawing or painting, I do it all by hand and then scan it in and tweak on the computer. When collaging, I'd say half the time I rifle, cut and paste by hand, and half the time I do it digitally.



Q: What is the most important item in your studio?

A: My right hand.

Q: What do you like best about your workspace?

A: The windows. I don't think I'd be able to be at peace and make good work if I didn't have the sights and sounds of the sky, the trees blowing in wind, the chimes on the porch, and kids on skateboards. For years my studio looked out onto an alley; the only way I could tell if it was raining was to peer all the way down at one particular, little puddle and see if its surface was catching raindrops.

Q: Do you think it needs improvement, if so, what would you change? 

A: It could be giant, with soaring ceilings and square footage and generally more awesome in a Hollywood way. The walls could be made of chocolate. It could be wired with sense around speakers. But as it is, it's fine.


 Q: How do you know when the art is finished?

A: When it looks good. When I look at it and feel physically good.

Q: What was your favorite book as a child? 

A: Jenny's Hat by Ezra Jack Keats

Q: What is the best book you’ve recently read?

A: Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast  

Q: If you had to choose one medium to work in for an entire year, eliminating all others, what medium would you choose?

A: Oil, ink and collage. That's my answer and I'm sticking to it. 

Q: If you could time travel to any era, any place, where would you go?

A: I would rig the machine to stay here now forever. Good times.



Q: What is preoccupying you at the moment?

A: Just the perpetual struggle to be creatively fulfilled and inspired, to earn enough money, to spend time with my husband and kids, to be physically and psychically satiated, to relax and enjoy stuff, to be excited, to be culturally stimulated and connected, and to keep creating new neural pathways and to live. You know, the usual stuff.

Q: What are some of your favorite places/books/blogs/websites for inspiration? 

A: Tag sales, old magazines, fabric stores, Pinterest, Etsy

Q: What was the [Thunderbolt] painting or drawing or film or otherwise that most affected your approach to art? 

A: No magic thunderbolts. I've put in my 10,000 hours.  There's a fluency and momentum that I think I have only achieved by sustained hard work.

Q: What would be your last supper?

A: All you can eat buffet. 



Johanna Goodman is an artist and illustrator living and working in Nyack, New York. Her portraits, conceptual work and collages have appeared just about everywhere – she has painted portraits of world leaders for the cover of Time, rock stars for Rolling Stone, CEOs for the Wall Street Journal, and everyone in between. Her work has been recognized by numerous design organizations including American Illustration, Communication Arts and The Society of Publication Design.




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