Joanna Winograd’s Black-and-White Metal World

Published 17th Mar 2017, Written by veronica

Discover the world of Joanna Winograd and how she manages to blend metal and unicorns into beautiful and sensitive black and white artworks.

Inspired by religious art from the Middle Ages and traditional Latin-American art, as well as her surroundings, artist Joanna Winograd’s illustrated world is filled with badass women. They’re witches and goddesses graphically painted in black and white, sometimes with a dash of color – always with a lot of attitude.

It’s a Friday afternoon when we meet in Joanna’s shared studio in Wedding. She was raised in Argentina and Colombia and moved to France at the age of 18, where she lived until moving to Berlin three years ago. She likes to use different mediums in her work and often changes between drawing in her sketchbook, sewing, screen printing, and painting on odd materials she found. “I don’t like having a routine; my daily agenda depends on how I feel or what I need to get done,” she says.

Illustrations by Joanna Winograd

When asked about her creative process, she answers that she doesn’t have one. “Sometimes, drawing is like discovering a song and then listening to it 20 times per day for a month – I draw in a certain way for a while, and then I change it”, she explains. Even though Joanna’s process may differ, her style is always consistent. Her lack of color and unique point of view makes it possible to see that she’s the artist, regardless if she’s painted a unicorn or a woman flipping the viewer off.

“For many years I didn’t like any color besides black and white, and a red for the blood,” she says while cracking up a bit and then continuing: “But after I got interested in religious images I started experimenting with gold. And while working for a children’s brand as an illustrator, I discovered that colors weren’t that bad. I still mostly work in black and white, but compared to before, I use many more colors.”

Joanna Winograd drawing
Illustrations and paint

While working Joanna listens to heavy metal. A few years back, she was headbanging at all the metal gigs, and one of her artist names; Joanna Wears Boots, is a reference to the classic Black Sabbath song “Fairies Wear Boots.” Now she only goes to the most important shows, but there’s no doubt about it; she is what some people would call: a proper “metalhead.”

“It’s a lifestyle,” Joanna says and continues: “Metal also brought me to the occult, dark, magic, witchery and my whole very particular aesthetics. And it showed me that there are no taboos in art, we’re allowed to talk about everything”.

Joanna Winograd holding a self portrait in front of her face
Joanna Winograd looking at one of her paintings

She’s stored a lot of her artworks at the studio, and since no one else is around in the shared space, we fill a whole table with her illustrations. She excitingly says that she recently found an old folder that she thought was gone. It’s big and filled with paintings.

Holding one of them up in front of her face, she explains that people always think it’s a self-portrait, which it isn’t. “I often draw women because I think a lot about how we feel as women and what it is that makes us women. My feelings and thoughts are also more represented with feminine characters”.

“It’s not a choice being an artist, it’s just the way you are, and you have to live with that, this is both the best and the worst part about it.”

We all know the feeling of a song bringing up memories as we experienced them yesterday. For Joanna, it’s not only songs that can do this. She has shelves at home packed with notebooks, dating back to 2003, that also work like time machines.

The first notebook was more words than drawings, but this has slowly changed, and now the books are primarily filled with illustrations, small pieces of her thoughts and feelings. “I avoid looking in some of them because they can bring me back to difficult times,” Joanna explains.

Illustration on work table with paint brush
Joanna Winograd

When the clock hits 4 pm, it’s officially time for an after-work. Joanna runs off to the nearest corner shop and comes back with two beers. The conversation then quickly goes into social structures and ideologies. “I like to observe and think about everything, even develop sociological theories about our time and people’s behaviors. I like to portray some of those thoughts in my artworks”, she says.

Joanna’s persona can easily be found in the witches and goddesses that she draws. And it’s impossible not to walk down the street feeling a little bit more badass after spending a few hours in her black and white metal world.