Jeannie Phan, Illustration for Bitch Magazine
My hands don’t know how to do anything else but draw….
Jeannie Phan’s way with the seemingly mundane is immediately captivating. The young Canadian artist employs a simple schematic way of drawing, color and cutout like elements allowing a readable pictogram of sorts, a concept left abstract yet full of suggestion.
We see this in Jeannie’s Instagram posts of everyday life, here and there, a moment of seemingly mundane intimacy, exhaustion, gluttony, a woman asleep at a late solo dinner table, the intensity of the rat race mirrored in the face of a weary office worker. There are also simple moments of grace: careful gardening or a pleasantly fat and unaware house cat observed…
Jeannie has a simple yet charming way of drawing her audience inwards, into the place of words, the stories told in the images or the text her pictures might accompany. One rather has the sense that one has stumbled into a place uninvited, the tiny details unfurling like a child’s bedtime story.
Jeannie Phan for Montecristo Magazine
The artist is an avid gardener and some of her most compelling pieces include moments of an urban garden. Strangeness and extraordinary acts meet in the series Night Trowels produced to complement the story in Nuovo magazine about the night gardening habits of Disneyland’s team of horticulturists.
Jeannie Phan, Night Trowels, Nuovo Magazine
An impressive rooster of high-profile clients grace the resume of this young artist including The New Yorker, The New York Times and The Globe and Mail.
Jeannie Phan Clearing the Air, Illustration for Nuovo Magazine
RB: How do you manage to harmonize the client’s requirements, motifs, storyline etc. with your artistic vision?
JP: I find I’m the most creative when I have parameters, which, applied to my work is what the clients needs are. Usually as illustrators, we all have our own visual vocabulary, we draw people a certain way, use certain colours, etc. As long as I’m using my own visual vocabulary, I feel my artistic vision and integrity still stays put despite illustrating something else’s story or idea.
RB: Gardens, animals, and working people –these motifs are present in many of the works, as well as rounded geometry, can you elaborate?
JP: I love the calmness and order of geometry, so it tends to find its way into my work. Gardens lend themselves so easily to being muses: I just love plants and growing them is a big hobby of mine. As for working people, I have an acute interest in office work culture, since as a freelancer, I work in such a totally different way.
RB: The Toronto art scene is quite vibrant and full of talent, how does this inform your practice?
JP: I love living in this city day-to-day, but in terms of the creative community specifically, there are a lot of wonderfully like-minded people who are passionate and full of ideas for the future. I’m currently a member of Lunchroom, a creative family that cooks and eats together….
RB: Tell us a little more about the Swim project?
JP: “Swim” was a personal zine I created when I fell in love with swimming. I needed a break from my work life, and would submerge myself (literally) in water to zone out and relax in a weightless space.