A north-east illustrator has shown her support for a major art project that will create a lasting legacy to all frontline workers.
As part of the major project, readers of all ages are being asked to use their creativity to draw pictures of some of the lockdown workers who have helped us over the past 12 months during the coronavirus pandemic.
This can include healthcare staff, shop workers, refuse collectors, delivery drivers, emergency services, teachers and school staff, neighbours or family members.
Originally from Auchnagatt near Ellon, Johanna “always wanted to work in the creative sector” when she grew up.
She has since sold over 21 million copies of her books worldwide in over 40 countries.
“I love the We Art Our Heroes campaign as it combines two of my favourite things; gratitude and creativity,” Johanna added.
“I think the pandemic has really brought out the best in so many of us and I feel so grateful to everyone who has worked tirelessly to get us all through this.”
The artist’s work is hugely inspired by nature and has been used on product packaging, book covers, billboards, album covers, tattoos and much more over the years.
She published her first colouring book, Secret Garden, in 2013. And she is due to release her ninth book, Worlds of Wonder, on Thursday April 1.
Johanna said: “I was one of those super annoying kids that always knew exactly what they wanted to do in life – to work in the creative sector.
“I wanted to be a fashion designer for a while, then an interior designer (mainly due to the television programme Changing Rooms), but my favourite thing was always drawing.
“At art school, I wasn’t very good with computers, so I specialised in drawing by hand and would create very detailed, nature-inspired drawings in pen and ink.
“I spent years juggling freelance illustration jobs for clients like Absolut Vodka, Smart Car and Nike, whilst also waitressing.
“Gradually the paid illustration work got to the point where I could stop all the side gigs, and then, a book deal for a colouring book came along.
“My work is hugely inspired by nature. I think the natural world has a never-ending supply of beauty that we can pull from to make creative work.
“I don’t do anything fancy, there’s no super complicated computer-generated artwork or rare art materials used – it’s just pencil and pen on paper.
“There’s something very humble and accessible about that. I basically create elaborate doodles and we all doodle!
“Being based in Aberdeenshire means we have woodland, mountains, rivers and beaches right on our doorstep – all of these inspire my drawings.
“I’ve drawn on a Smart Car, created the cover art for the Edinburgh Fringe programmes and inked one of the Oor Wullie sculptures for the 2019 Archie Appeal.
“My latest book, Worlds of Wonder, is out in April and was created almost entirely during lockdown, in between baking banana bread and trying to teach my kids about rhombuses.
“In a year when we couldn’t go anywhere, this book became my escape. Every page takes you to a different imagined world; treetop castles, underwater villages or floating islands for example.
“The pages are all waiting to be brought to life in your colours and will give people who have been stuck at home for months the opportunity to go on an incredible adventure.”
Johanna’s daughters are also avid drawers. One of the siblings, six-year-old Evie, has drawn a collaborative picture with Johanna specifically for the We Art Our Heroes campaign.
“Our picture is inspired by the ladies at my local post office in Ellon who have worked throughout all the lockdowns and are always so cheery and helpful,” she added.
“I’ve posted a lot of books to people during the pandemic and if it were not for the staff at the post office, I wouldn’t have been able to.
“Both my daughters love to draw. I think this is a consequence of growing up in a house that is bursting at the seams with art supplies.
“I love seeing them be creative and getting messy. We have a whole wall in the kitchen that is dedicated to their art and it’s my favourite place in the entire house.
“Going back to the campaign, we all need a bit of fun and this is the perfect opportunity to put down those iPads and phones, step away from the Zoom calls and do something a little different.
“You don’t need any fancy art supplies, just use what you have at home.
“I think it’s also lovely that we’re shining a spotlight on all those people who have helped us this last year and show them how much we appreciate them.”
The deadline for entries for the project is Saturday March 6 at 8pm.