Artists in Motion. Mariana Ruiz Johnson “Art gives you happiness on a daily basis”

May 19, 2016

Artists in Motion. Mariana Ruiz Johnson “Art gives you happiness on a daily basis”

Artists in Motion aims to introduce you to our artists and their worlds; to allow you a glimpse of their sensibilities and unique perspectives, and the ideas, experiences, people, and places that help inspire their work. Through this series, we hope to give you an idea of how our artists create meaning through the unique works of art that you will take home.


Mariana Ruiz Johnson (Argentina)

  1. Did you know when you were a child that you wanted to be an artist? Was there anything in particular that drove you in that direction?

Entering the world of arts was very natural to me. My mom and dad met at Art School, and they were devoted to the world of books. I grew up among books and abstract paintings. As a child, my mother gave me all sorts of materials to work with, and I used to write and illustrate my own books.

  1. Where do you get your inspiration?

My inspiration comes basically from observation. I owe much to my travels in Latin America, where I discovered Latin American folk art and its peculiar way of depicting the world. The colors they use, how they use space; the ornamentation of tapestries, ceramics and murals have been of great inspiration for me. At the same time, twentieth-century art changed my way of seeing the world. Cinema and TV series are also an inspiration for my work. 

  1. Where do you work? Tell us something about preparation in your work routine.

As a mother of a young child, I have to stick to his school routine. I get up very early and start working at 8 am. At noon I fetch my son at school, give him lunch and get back to work in the afternoon, during his nap. Routine and order are important to me. Having a son also gave me flexibility regarding the space where I work: I have my studio but I'm constantly moving around the house, as needed.

  1. Is your work influenced by the place you live?

I really can´t say if my work is either typically Argentine or not, but I do get inspiration from the depictions of my culture, among other things.

  1. What advice would you give to young artists?

I would tell them to find a work routine that is comfortable to them. To set a daily target, and try to fulfill it. To work seriously but enjoy what they do, because that's the most important. And to read a lot, to see movies, to cook, to travel!

  1. Is there a special artist or artwork that inspires you?

My influences include Latin American folk art; twentieth-century modern artists like Matisse, Picasso, Paul Klee, Frida Kahlo; and film directors such as Pedro Almodóvar, Wes Anderson, and Lars Von Trier. I also like old animated series like Disney´s Silly Symphonies or newer ones, such as BoJack Horseman and Adventure Time. I think it's important to keep up with contemporary productions from all artistic disciplines. I'm a little obsessed with being updated.

    7. What are kids like, as an audience?

These guys are a tough crowd, watching the details, which leads to questions. Lately, I think a lot about them when I work, because having a small child at home put me in direct contact with that childlike way of looking, being inquisitive. My son requires humor in the illustrations, he looks at what I do and gives orders: I, of course, do what he tells me.

  1. Why do you think it’s Important to have art at home?

Because it gives you happiness on a daily basis. In my house there are drawings by my artist friends on the walls, but mostly my home is filled with curious objects I brought from my travels. I have wooden dolls and papier mache brought from Mexico, Peruvian dolls, pottery, tin toys. There are also books everywhere: on tables, on shelves. When guests come home they spend plenty of time wandering around these things.

    9. Tell us about your latest project.

I am currently working on several books, some for publishing houses in my country and others that are personal projects.

    10. Why do you think it's Important to encourage children to make art?

I think art (in any of its forms) is a tool for sublimation. Art is a powerful voice to express the place we occupy in the world. We can either make art or consume it. I think any of these two forms help us move through this difficult world with the best tools. Art saves us!

    11. Do you have a favorite character? If so, why is it your favorite?

The first to come to my mind is Mafalda, Quino's famous character. Quino is a cartoonist in my country: the best. He is not only a great artist, but has an incisive, poetic and intelligent humor. Mafalda was one of the first comics I read. I really love that opinionated little girl full of ideals, who loves The Beatles and hates soup.




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