The Block

Insights — 7 months ago

Joy Miessi On Making Wearable Art

Rising London based artist Joy Miessi has joined forces with 50 leading artists in response to a single, uniform brief; to design a T-shirt that promotes discussion around a single, important topic – censorship. The brief was set as part of our 50/50 collaborative project, where 50 tee designs are sold by 50 artists with 50% of profit returning to the creators, and 50% going to Amnesty International. The results have been stunning, with Joy’s tee already making waves alongside the other designs.

 

We sat down with Joy, on the eve of her first solo-exhibition, to chat about her involvement in 50/50, with a keen interest in understanding how she approached the brief, and in finding out what tips she has for other young artists.

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Everpress team
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Image courtesy of Wendy Huynh & Joy Miessi

Can you tell our community a little about yourself to get started?

I’m Joy Miessi, I’m a freelance artist based in London. I’ve grown up inspired by posters around Camden Town, hairstyles from my childhood, and my family home in Congo. I respond to my everyday life through drawing, writing, and abstract figures, making my work a visual diary for myself.

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Artwork by Joy Miessi

What does it mean to be one of 50 artists working on the same brief for a cause like 50/50?

I’m grateful to be part of the line up. To me, it feels like a direct opportunity for us to use our skills for the wider community and to raise awareness.

If you could pin it down, what does the term ‘censorship’ mean to you?

To me, it means filtering the reality. What comes to mind is a memory from when I was in Sunday school – a lot of the answers to my questions felt washed over, but I remember having to recite verses (to get sweets) and there was a verse about “stopping your ears” and “shutting your eyes” which also makes me think of censorship.

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Joy Miessi’s 50/50 t-shirt design. Photography by Alec McLeish

And how did you approach creating a tee design in response to this?

I used my usual style of self portraiture to create a response influenced by the biblical lines I remembered. I wanted to draw more on that sense of memory and nostalgia with this design, so I looked back to some of my favourite TV shows for inspiration. The colour palette from this was inspired by Reptar from Rugrats.

Wearing these pieces takes the art outside of gallery walls and into public space.

You’re no stranger to using fashion pieces as a medium for your work, what draws you to garments as a canvas?

I try not to restrict myself within my practice and experiment on materials outside of what I know. What drew me to paint on garments is that it was outside of my comfort zone. I studied fashion very briefly, but did terribly and left, but coming at it from an artistic viewpoint there really is so much fluidity and potential within it that there is no wrong, but really just an expression of identity and feeling. Wearing these pieces takes the art outside of a gallery walls and takes it out into public space.

A post shared by Joy Miessi (@joymiessi) on

Do you have any tips for anyone embarking on their own creative journey? How can they find their own style and voice?

I would say to utilise social media. For finding a style and voice, I think this is easy to do if your work tells your own story. With us all being very different to one another, what can make us unique can simply be that you made something using everything that you know, using your knowledge, your take, your perspective.

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Artwork by Joy Miessi

Do you think it’s important to be vocal about the process behind your work, be it on social media or otherwise?

I don’t think it’s necessary – some may not want to share it, and that’s cool. I enjoy documenting each step as it adds to the story of the piece and how it came to be. Revealing the process also allows for viewers to see that things take time, work, layers, and hopefully enables them to see the beauty in time and process.

Finally, what’s coming up for you throughout the rest of 2018?

I’ll be having my first solo exhibition on 6th July at 198 Gallery and a print exhibition on 14th September at Atom Gallery. I’ll be sharing new work, which I’m really excited about. I’ll be posting updates on my instagram – @joymiessi.

Grab Joy Miessi’s 50/50 t-shirt here for £25 and help raise crucial funds for Amnesty International as they champion freedom of speech and expression around the globe.