The Stencil Art Prize chat to our 2017 Winners Jana & Js from Austria, who won the Stencil Art Prize with their painting ‘If only you knew’, about their creative process.
JANA & JS INTERVIEW
SAP: Painting as a duo – can you tell us about the process of painting together? How does it work? Does one person drive the creative decisions? Do you ever disagree? Is the process of painting together similar to the way musicians practice music together – each contributing elements until a final work emerges?
J&JS: Our work and the whole creative process of each piece is very fusional. We are both driving the creative decisions. Almost each and every step in our work is decided by both of us. We develop an idea together and then do a little photo shooting. Every artwork starts from a photo taken by us.
Afterwards we both cut the stencils. Then come the parts where tasks are a little bit more separated. Before our kids were born we used to paint together on the artwork at the same time. When Jana got pregnant she stopped painting with spray paint in the studio and therefor focused more on the parts with the brushes.
Js is preparing all the supports, cutting the wood and putting the assemblages together and spaying the stencils. Even if our work is very fusional it is important that each of us find some freedom in some parts of the process.
Yes, naturally we sometimes disagree 😉 that’s a part of our process. It’s a way to discuss, find new solutions and open new perspectives. As long as it keeps being constructive it’s a good thing!
SAP: Urban architecture and human’s place in the city are key themes in many of your artworks. There is frequently a sense of melancholy and nostalgia to your paintings. Can you tell us more about this “feeling” and does it relate to world events in recent years?
J&JS: We used to live in Paris and Madrid. Living in a big city had a great influence in our work. There is some melancholy and some nostalgia in our work, but we see it as a positive feeling, something to take a break from the agitation of our world.
The passage of time, the memories and the marks that they leave are things that are inspiring us a lot. But also, our everyday life, our kids, our friends, our travels, new and old places that we’re visiting… The world in which we’re living in has an impact on our life so somehow it has an impact on our work…
SAP: As European artists you both travel quite a bit – is there a place that has been most influential in your creative growth and painting style or subject matter?
J&JS: Travelling is an important part in our work, and not only because it allows us to leave marks but also because of the influence that those new places can have on our work.
Paris is a very important city for us. It is such a rich and beautiful city and it is where we started our journey together as artists. But Madrid is definitely a special city for us as it is the place where we met and where our lives changed.
The small German city and the region of Salzburg where we are living now has also a great influence in our work. For a couple of years now we are often painting on new supports away from big cities, like on tree trunks in the woods, stones, rail tracks,… and it opened new perspectives and made us develop new ideas.
SAP: How do you approach the “work” aspect of painting professionally as full-time artists? Do you have set hours or certain habits, or is it more organic? What motivates you and keeps you going?
J&JS: We don’t really have a work schedule as if we were working in an office… sometimes we need to work day and night and sometimes we can take things really slow.
Our work is a part of our life. Our studio is the whole ground floor of our house, so everything is mixed. Going in the studio doesn’t really feel like work actually 😉 But for a couple of years now, we have decided to keep things a bit more organised for the sake of our kids and our family life!
When the kids are in kindergarten, we both go to the studio and when they’re home we try to spend as much time as possible with them. Creating something special together has been and still is our main motivation. We are enjoying working together and this is what keeps us going.
SAP: Inspiration – are there other artists who inspire you and why do they inspire you?
J&JS: We have been inspired by quiet a lot of different artists and movements over the years: Dali, Magritte, Mondrian, Hopper to name a few. surrealism, abstract art are movements that inspired us a lot.
SAP: If you could achieve any goal as an artist what would it be and why?
J&JS: Our goal is to show our children that with passion and courage everything is possible!
SAP: Do you have any advice for emerging artists to help them in their creative journey?
J&JS: We would say: be honest and passionate about what you’re expressing through you work!
ABOUT JANA & JS
Austrian and French street artists Jana & Js are painting together since 2006. The pair create polychromed stencil murals widely ranging in size. Based primarily on their personal photographic work, the stencils seem to respond and interact with their surroundings. Mostly inspired by the city and people living in, their paintings merge urban landscape or architecture details with portrait, questioning the place of human being in the modern cities.
Inspired by the place where they put their work they now focus on nostalgia, melancholy. After spending some time in Madrid, Spain where they met and living a couple of years in Paris, Jana & Js are now settled in Salzburg – Austria.