Monday, October 3, 2011

Oct. 3 - Day 3: Johanna Parker Chats About Halloween

(Photo of Johanna featured in the 2011 issue of
Celebrate Halloween Magazine by Phyllis Hoffman.
Look for "Spirited Creations" on pg. 23)

Johanna Parker's creations are fancied by many fans and her Halloween pieces are spook-tacular! She was recently interviewed by me and the interview was a lot of fun. This week's prize for anyone commenting on this week's postings is a set of her Primitives by Kathy Halloween charms so be sure to comment and enter.

Read on below for some insight into her artistry and what makes Halloween so special to her...

VH: Tell us a little about yourself and how long you've been an artist.

JP: Well, according to my mom, I started drawing at the age of 3. All it took was a crayon or two and I was well on my way! I think I started with crayolas on manila paper, chalk on sidewalks, markers and the list goes on. I certainly have years of practice and dedication to the art of creating, but I wouldn't have it any other way. If I am away from my art for too many days, I feel that itch to create. Perhaps it's a therapeutic escape for me to hop into my imaginative world and sculpt and paint fanciful characters.

VH: What inspired you to become an artist?

JP: Well, I think it certainly comes from a passion and almost a need to create that lives inside of each artist. Perhaps my observation and fascination for the intricate patterns and design of the natural world also sparked my creativity to try my hand at design as well. And of course, my mother's creativity greatly influenced me. When I was little, she was very much into weaving and crafting with projects always at hand. Her artistic nature certainly inspired me, and her encouragement helped to set my creative wheels in motion.

VH: What is it about Halloween that inspires you and sparks such nostalgic and festive creations?

JP: Of all the days of the year, Halloween is the day where you can be whomever you want to be, play a new and exciting roll, dress outside of the box and act extremely silly without the judgement of others. I am attracted to the happy-spirited and innocent side of this popular holiday, and it inspires a slew of evolving characters each and every year. I am fascinated with the notion that my ancestors enjoyed and celebrated October 31st as well, and it is always a treat for me to come across a vintage Halloween novelty that marks a particular time in history when they were sharing in the festivities of the season as we do today....

VH: What's your favorite Halloween memory from childhood?

JP: Birthday parties of course as I was born on Halloween! I must admit, they all blur together a bit, but I recall dressing up with my friends, enjoying mom's special Halloween birthday cakes which were often iced like jack-o'-lanterns and once a pair of chocolate black cats, and of course opening presents and trick-or-treating at the end of a fun-filled day where it seemed like everyone was celebrating my birthday!

VH: When decorating and creating, what is your favorite Halloween "character" to create your designs around?

JP: Well, I think my signature black cat kicked things off for me and my folk art career, so I am a bit partial to that bright-eyed, wide-grinning character. However, I really enjoy the spooky, eye-catching nature of my owls and enjoying bringing those sculpted characters to life with a variety of paints.......

You can see a fun sampling of my original Halloween art in my Gallery:

VH: Where do you draw your inspiration from, when you begin to work on new projects?

JP: Quite honestly, I just sit down and create. I have a couple of antique Halloween resource books that I rarely touch and a growing collection of vintage Halloween finds that I love, but I really try to do my own thing. I am certainly inspired by the Art Deco period and fascinated with the flowing lines and shapes of that era. So, such patterns and designs often appear in the painted work I do, but again, it all develops with my own twist. I must add that nature is a true inspiration for me as well. The intricate patterns and details on insects, birds, flowers and leaves to name a few, always capture my interest and remind me that as a designer, the possibilities are endless.

VH: What's your favorite Halloween tradition?

JP: Well, it's certainly one of my most favorite days to go people watching. Amongst friends or alone, my husband and I enjoy dressing up and going downtown for a birthday dinner and a lot of laughs. I enjoy seeing the creativity of others and what kind of costumes are dreamt up along the way by these mysterious, masked strangers.

VH: How are you decorating this year for Halloween--any special themes?

JP: Most likely, if time permits, I will deck the front room with my vintage Halloween finds in conjunction with my own originals and reproductions scattered in amongst a mix of fellow artist's creations. I am starting to amass a hearty collection of bygone delights sent to me from my mom and collector friends. Of course, I've picked up a few along the way too! We always display our one of a kind Halloween fire screen that my husband built, and I embellished with papier mache and paint. However, this year we have begun the hefty process of remodeling our 1939 cottage house, so we may be decorating with drop cloths and tarps! That in itself could be spooky! :)

VH: Aside from the usual candy, do you do anything extra special for your trick or treaters?

JP: I usually fill one of my big reproduction candy bowls that I have designed for Primitives by Kathy with lots of candy and let the kids pick out their favorite treats. My bowls get lots of fun comments throughout the night, especially from the parents! I almost always have Poritshead playing in the background for that eerie, theramin sound, light some candles and set a spooky mood. Last year, our cat Jack was prancing around in a festooned collar, sitting atop a stool where the kids could see him, and he was getting all the attention!

VH: What's your favorite Halloween candy?

JP: As much as I try to keep my hand out of the candy bowl, it's hard to resist an occasional Twix bars may be my fave, but honestly, October is the only time you'll catch me eating candy. The rest of the year I'm popping dark chocolate covered almonds.... That's a health food, right? :)

VH: Describe your favorite Halloween piece that you've created.

JP: Oh, this was a really difficult choice, but I have to say that this Rhyme Time Original cat sitting atop a ball that I made & sold last year on eBay is one of my faves. He was from a very small series of characters that I created, which included a rhyme to match each piece. I hope to start back up with this series next year as it was a big hit, and I enjoyed writing the poems to accompany the pieces.

We thank Johanna for taking the time to chat with us and hope you enjoyed it too!


We carry some of Johanna's products in our Vintage Halloween Shop!


dragonmamma said...

I always admire people who have a Halloween "style" or decorating theme with a focus. I don't know how to keep it simple; I have all sorts of stuff that I collect or create, and it becomes a hodge-podge Halloween, a combo of vintage, folk-art, Martha Stewart and gory stuff all at once!

Lee said...

Love Johanna's creations! I saw them in person at Ghoultide Gathering and am always amazed at her ability to come up with new and original creatures. Especially love the newest mouse egg cup that a friend was able to buy! More mice, Johanna!
Crossing my fingers and toes for this give away-Thanks for offering one!

dreaminitvegan said...

I love Johanna's designs. I am also a Halloween baby! I love vintage pieces and hers are always so fun. Thanks for sharing.

dreaminitvegan said...

I just made a comment previously but forgot to leave my name-it's JoLynn

Dan said...

I loved reading your interview with Johanna! She is such a talented and sweet person. I could just stare at her work all day long!


*SHeRRy B* said...

What a great interview. I just started collecting Johannas stuff. I can see it's going to become quite an addiction! Thank you!

Anna of Halloween Night said...

What a wonderful interview! Her pieces are really amazing! I absolutely love her owls!! ~Anna Ashcroft

snowbear said...

I really love Johanna's wonderful Halloween figures etc. I am checking out her fav band for background music too.. had not hard of them.. Great interview!!!Thanks.

Jenn said...

@Lee - I second the mice!

I'm glad you all enjoyed the interview!

Lisa said...

Johanna's creations are stunning, I love her vintage inspired style. My daughter was born 2 days after Halloween, and sometimes her birthday parties are celebrated a bit early, she really enjoys the Halloween themed birthdays! I have great memories of Halloween as a child, and I'm creating memories for my kids now. Love your site!

Kristyn said...

I cetainly always love to hear more about Johanna. Her work is the perfect mix of old and new! Being a professional artist myself, I find her to be an inspiration as she is clearly talented artistically but also has an aptitude for the business side of it. She has built quite the life for herself! Go Johanna!

Halloween Crazy! said...

It's so fun to find out what makes favorite artists tick and what inspires them. Thanks for the insight.

mbrcutie said...

Love Johanna's spirited creations! She is one of my favorite folk artists. I am very lucky to own one of her original one of a kind black cat designs.

Jenn said...

Thank you all for the great comments--it was a pleasure to interview Johanna for the blog and support her work!


Andrea said...

Great interview with my favorite contemporary Halloween artist. Thanks!

Johanna Parker said...

Ahhh, many thanks to Jenn for dreaming up this fun interview and to all of her readers leaving such kind comments... I really appreciate it :)

~ Johanna

Jenn said...

Johanna--it was my pleasure, thanks for taking the time to share with us and the photos were especially lovely! Can't wait to see what you come up with for next year's lines.