The Smell of Our Own: Jamiyla Lowe

Broken Pencil - - Table Of Contents - by April Aliermo

JAMIYLA LOWE I MET

through the artist Adri­enne Kam­merer. They're best friends and I find them a fas­ci­nat­ing pair: they're both amaz­ing Toronto-based artists and also they laugh the same way. I have a dis­gust for pet food and Jamiyla and Adri­enne helped me feed the an­i­mals I was pet-sit­ting. I'm re­ally im­pressed with Jamiyla's draw­ings be­cause they're so cre­ative and also very tech­ni­cal. She il­lus­trates crea­tures that are de­ranged yet beau­ti­ful — imag­i­nary be­ings with brains that ex­tend to their noses, cloud balls with end­less faces and fab­ri­cated an­i­mals that are at once lean and mal­nour­ished. Her scenes de­pict­ing hu­mans are also pretty lurid and look like pa­gans liv­ing on the fringes of so­ci­ety. A lot of her crea­tures look like they are deeply feel­ing some­thing; ei­ther mis­chief or agony or a deep feel­ing of noth­ing­ness. Jamiyla has been draw­ing and screen­print­ing since 2007. At the mo­ment, she's work­ing on the vi­su­als for a card game.

What are your in­flu­ences? Where does all this fan­tas­ti­cal im­agery come from?

Ba­si­cally just things that make me laugh and things that I find scary. I like movies like Fan­tas­tic Planet, and artists like Uno Mo­rales, Pe­dro Bell and lots of oth­ers who make creepy and fun nar­ra­tive stuff. I like mys­ter­ies a lot too and a lot of the time I just draw as a way to amuse my­self.

What sorts of images were you draw­ing grow­ing up? How are they con­nected to (and how are they dif­fer­ent from) the work you do now?

I mostly drew Garfield and dragons over and over again be­cause draw­ing peo­ple was so dif­fi­cult, I guess. I still feel that way some­times. I did even­tu­ally learn how to draw peo­ple but I some­times just find it to be less fun, like there's less room to ex­ag­ger­ate.

How long does it take you to com­plete a draw­ing? What is your process for il­lus­trat­ing a pic­ture? Do you ever have artist's block? How do you get over it?

It takes about one to two months, de­pend­ing on the size and con­tent of the piece. I re­cently started work­ing pri­mar­ily in full colour and my work tends to be pretty de­tailed but I'm work­ing on get­ting faster. I do of­ten have (cre­ative) blocks, and I pro­cras­ti­nate if I feel like some­thing's not the best I can do. The best way I'm find­ing to deal with it is to ac­cept that not ev­ery­thing has to go per­fectly and to just keep work­ing. Ev­ery­one has good work and not-as-good work.

What are your dreams like? Do your crea­tures ever seep into them? Are they ever born from your dreams?

I ac­tu­ally did have a night­mare about a gross fleshy spi­der with teeny hu­man hands that I drew. It kept mul­ti­ply­ing and in­fested my mother's house. It was aw­ful. But that was the only time thank­fully.

Why do you love draw­ing these strange images so much? What does it do for you?

It's a way to ex­press anx­i­eties with­out di­rectly at­tach­ing those feel­ings to peo­ple, I guess, and mak­ing them funny or re­lat­able in a way. It takes a lot of the se­ri­ous­ness out of the work to draw silly-look­ing crea­tures do­ing hor­ri­ble or sad or reg­u­lar hu­man things.

The Gar­den by Jamiyla Lowe

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