Illustrator, visual storyteller, graphic designer, and graphic novelist: Johanna Krótka wears many hats. From Kraków, Poland, Johanna is known for a style that is simultaneously painterly and graphic; precise fields of color and tight linework are combined loosely with splashes of digital ink or gestural brushstrokes. There’s a technical nod to contemporary graphic novels as well as early 20th century Japanese illustration. Fuse these visuals with topics inspired by films, science fiction, literature, and psychedelic dreams, then splash in some saturated colors, and we’re left in a hypnogogic trance.
Topics Johanna chooses to illustrate covers the gamut– relationships, life and death, soul ascension, insanity, the afterlife, and tales of her Slavic heritage are all touched upon. While some visuals are delicately poetic, macabre sexuality is a common theme, with witches conjuring life from a corpse, melting bones with a caress, or gradually drifting into insanity. In some illustrations, near-neon hues become incorporated into otherwise muted palettes, swiftly attracting the viewer’s eye.
Johanna often retools many of her images into animated psychedelic gifs, presenting the opportunity to develop alternate visuals and resulting in an “op-art”-like effect. Some are simple color shifts, while others include wispy smoke, falling leaves, or a rippling pulse – but many of the energetic loops are unnerving, causing the viewer to question whether the dreamlike image is an illusion or reality. She’s also had the opportunity to collaborate with other artists and writers, bringing their short stories to life. One such story is Yonder’s Dream written by Josh Tierney, a tale about a mythical dog’s vision. For a peek of her animated loops, visit Johanna’s Deviant Art gallery.
Johanna received an MFA in Graphic Arts with specialization in book design in 2010, and she’s putting that experience to good use; earlier this year she began working on an erotic graphic novel, “The Being” / “Istota”, written and illustrated entirely by Polish female artists. Funded in full via Kickstarter, the book is currently in production, but the team is sharing snippets of work for the book on the project’s Instagram account as they get closer to completing the novel.