Ask the Artist: Jodee Knowles

by Emilie Branch

I met Jodee Knowles in Perth last year and completely fell in love with her. Our mutual friend informed me she was an artist and showed me her portraits on Facebook. We would stare at them, and marvel. I saw her characters as drug raddled fashion types—like she was mocking everything around her, or what she might be perceived as. I decided to check in with Jodie, to see how her work has evolved and find out what she had to say about it.

 1. What themes affect your work?

My work is heavily based on the human condition and the emotional state of mind that makes or breaks a happy existence. My portraits are a reflection of ones memories and expectations, in which the concept of an intoxicating other is celebrated or hated. My characters attempt to awaken forgotten memoires and desired longings. By thematically dealing with the feeling of being torn between addiction and satisfaction, between excess and boredom, I attempt to confuse my public’s senses and breach space, time and feeling. 

The works portray my own existence, where extreme experiences, fear and obsession collide. I am always hungry for emotional familiarity and am addicted to the chaotic environment of them. Each work represents and displays my connection with individuals who are involved in my life emotionally, and whose existence causes me to constantly question my own. My works are simply created for your emotion experience and pleasure. Once removing me as the artist, who suffered this process, the works become any individual’s moments. 

Current collection:

The current themes I am exploring within my new collection are based on mood and money. Using different colored patterns to represent different moods and symbols of timelines and crosses to bring money and time together into significant moments in one’s life.  The works are a mature realization of being aware of one’s self and coming to terms with knowing that the people who adore you, will stop adoring you, they will die, they will move on, you will shed them, you will shed your beauty etc Recognizing one’s own transience and realizing that time is what I fear and not death. The works themselves are more honest and the patterns all-original with absolute symbolism. The characters are the discarded everything in your life and the moments we lose and replace.

2. Are you influenced by fashion?

Yes. Most of my portraits wear the recent collections from Paris fashion week. I take a lot of inspiration from Comme Des Garcons, Vivienne Westwood and Undercover etc. I design many of the garments in the images too and love playing with pattern.

 3. Are you influenced by drugs?

No, I have never taken drugs before and most likely never will.

 4. I had an art teacher who said every face you draw is really a self-portrait. Since your style revolves around one distinctive face, do you agree with this? Are they self-portraits?

Each image is a portrait of someone I know or images found. I photograph all of my models. My style is similar in each work, but if you take the time to look, they are all very different and individual. There is an essence of myself in each work, but on a subconscious level.


6. To me, the expressions on the faces you draw seem ambivalent, sad, or even, empty. Can you describe the emotions you’re trying to capture in the expression?

The humans that purchase my work are drawn to them due to the exact same emotional state they have within themselves, I have had people relate in positive and negative ways, but they are still captivated. My works are a commitment to the human condition as well as memories, time, and money. My newest works are based on gesture and place gestures of young on the old and vice versa.

8. Do your characters ever haunt you?

No, not really. They haunt me only when they are incomplete and trying to push ideas out and create is a very draining process. They are like my babies and when I really am so very happy with one, I find it hard to sell.

9. Why do you think you mostly tend to illustrate women?

I like working with the female form, its more delicate and I guess I am familiar with it. I do draw men as well, but very feminine men. 

10. Do you enjoy working on collaborations? Any good/bad experiences working with other artists?

I do, I really want to work on a collaboration with a big designer one day. Having my work on clothing would be the ultimate! I haven’t had any bad experiences yet with others, usually I collaborate because I love the artist and they feel the same.


11. I lived right by your artrage mural (pictured above) in Perth. It’s so big and wonderful! How did you do it? I picture you suspended from a scaffolding…

Yes, well just one of the characters eyes was the size of me! It was the most challenging mural still to date. I had to map it out with a projector from the opposite side of the road with cars getting annoyed. Then it was just four days of cherry pickers and scaffolding. The proportions were the hardest as I would have to run across the road and up the bridge to get a correct view!

12. I notice your art has changed a lot over this past year. It looks like you’ve been experimenting more with color and surreal effects. How would you describe the progression of style? 

My new works are definitely more human-like now and less character based. I am working with hands and body parts much more now. It is taking its time but will be worth it. My new show is in March at Friends of Leon gallery and I feel it will be my darkest most progressive show yet. Fingers crossed!

Something tells me you don’t need to worry! Thanks for your time, Jodee. You can check out all of Ms. Knowles work at:

Image Courtesy of Jodee Knowles 



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