Interview: Heidi Marie Johansen

heidi marie

Name: Heidi Marie Johansen.

Where do you live:
Denmark, Bogense which is a small charming old trading town on the north coast of Funen.

Known for:
Animals images, especially paintings of penguins and red paintings.

Currently working on:
Right now I am working on a 100×100 commissioned painting of penguins.

When did you realize that you were going to work with this:
I have always been a very curious and creative person. I have a great interest in history and different cultures and their expressions. Not so surprisingly I have a candidacy in philosophy majoring in aesthetics and science. In one of my last papers I worked on building bridges between art and science. It succeeded, but undeniably a difficult task alone. To find a mentor to such a controversial theme was a huge challenge. In continuation of this study I found a need for a non-verbal and more naive expression. I think it happened for more than ten years ago.

If you could choose one place only to live, where would that be and why?
I`m happy to stay where I live. Close to the sea and nature. Well an art studio in Berlin when I want to feel the touch of the city life would be great.

How would you describe your design/work:
My work is a mix of modern and vintage: I design usually with strong and simple colors and make use of contrasts. I prefer simplicity and symbolism rather than complexity and many analysing layer.

How and when did you start to work with this in a serious manner?
I started seriously for about ten years ago.

What do you do at the moment?
I have many projects. One deals penguin sculptures in different materials, among other soapstone. Here I expect also that the weather should be so well that I can work outside. Future projects are being prepared like a donation of art for the benefit of endangered species, another concerns with an Indian orphanage.

One can not be everywhere.

A recommendation for those who think about starting and running a creative business?
Always be true to true to oneself and not listen to nonconstructive criticism. Paint what you feel for even if it isn’t  the best-selling works. You must nurture your creativity and you can`t if you take too many orders or always paint the same. Many will say that the doors of the big galleries never open up to me. It’s okay. I’m doing well and my creativity is more important than conformity and serial productions. I prefer when people say: “What can we expect this time?”

Tell us how it all started.
It all started with my red paintings. A family member bought some of my works and showed them to some other people and from there it went fast. I did not even have time to take photos of the paintings before they were sold. My red images are still coveted.

What is the most important thing in a workplace/studio for you?
Keep costs down. A small heated studio is better than a large cold art studio. It is best to combine it with your home so you have the opportunity to be there all the time. People who are truly interested is indifferent to the surroundings. I once had a small gallery in down town….but no time to paint. In the beginning you need to be very proactive and offer exhibitions without expected sales. The most important thing is that your works come out and be seen by as many people as possible.

What is your favorite film?
Adam Schmedes from Denmark is a brilliant filmmaker. ”The chameleon on the beach” is just one of his films. His concept or dogma as always in his nature films operate with empathy and not an accumulation of data.

I like that the protagonists and the viewing angle always are the animals.

Who would you like to invite for a dinner and why?
I would invite the Dane, Jens Galschiot. He is a very complex artist who moves the intersection of installation art and Street Art with clear references to “social sculpture”, Symbolism and Art Nouveau. Jens Galschiot works primarily to fight the world’s injustices by erecting sculptures in major cities worldwide.

In fact, he holds lectures at my daughter’s school next week.

How do you like to spoil yourself?
I do not think I’m so good to spoil myself. But it would probably be something like eat in town with a good friend, watch a movie in the cinema or read a good book. It could also be a long ride a beautiful place without companionship.

What is luxury for you?
Luxury for me is to have all my time to paint and to paint what I feel like.

What is the nicest compliment you’ve received for your design/work, and from whom?
The nicest compliments I have received is from children. I think they understand my work so well because my style is not abstract.

They are sincere and know intuitively how to use strong colors.

Because of my daughter there comes many children in our home and they always had to take a look and see what has happened with the painting they saw last time and often they suggest some improvements.

A problem is that I can`t say no when they ask if I want to paint a picture for them …. I have a long list!

What do you fear most?
I fear that world leaders do not act on climate change.

New UN report takes stock of the world state of the climate, and the conclusion is clear: Climate change is spinning out of control if not greenhouse gases emissions are reduced now. We still have a little time to reduce some of the impact but the world leaders must act responsible and quickly. According a report from the UN Climate Panel sees the world already several places consequences of climate change, and that largely beyond the poorest in the world community. We also see the changes in many vulnerable ecosystems. Researchers have just made observations of seals who rape king penguins and sometimes eat them afterwards, a behavior attributed to hormonal changes due to temperature increases.

My nine year old daughter is first up in the morning. One morning she came to me and said, “Now, I know why you paint penguins” I saw on television that the ice melts and they drown, and the little baby penguins being bitten to death by the foxes who are not even hungry! Very touching.

What is a happy life to you?
A good life for me is linked to what condition we leave the planet for our children. In addition a good health, no economic problems and good relationships.

What does a regular day look like for you?
An ordinary day: In the morning I drive my daughter to school. When I come back, I see the news, empty my post and so on then I start to paint. By early afternoon I pick her from school, doing some practical things. As a rule, I bring her to some recreational activities. When she sleeps, I start painting again and ends around 1:30 PM where I go to sleep and wake up again 7:00 AM.

Tell us about your dream project.
All my projects are the stuff of dreams but not all come true.

Who is your favorite designer?
In Denmark we have many talented designers. My favorite designer is Piet Hein. He is very versatile and is also called a modern variant of Leonardo da Vinci. I`m the happy owner of his ellipse table. But when all is said and done… I prefer good functionality that is not as expensive.

How would you describe your style?
Naturalistic adjacent to the figurative and naïve. There is always recognizable. For the most part happy paintings also my penguin pictures even if their aim often is focusing on climate change besides there is often water at my paintings.

Which is the one thing you can’t live without?
Many have to live a long life without the things they love. If we talk about creativity, I prefer that art is not just art for itself, but that it serves a higher purpose or meaning this without looking down on other artists. I’m not saying that I have completed this…. But it keeps me on track. I guess that’s why I choose to invite Jens Galschiot for a dinner.

What inspires you?
I get inspiration from many places and people: Nature, children, books, politics, other artists, adventure…. I have a book I write my best ideas up and I believe that there are presentations to many hundreds of paintings and projects. Hence, it helps me to formulate an objective of my work.

A book that has changed/made the most impression in your life?
I have no particular favorite author? I often read new authors in all genres. I choose the person who coined the term “cyberspace” the American-Canadian science fiction author William Gibson and his book ”Pattern Recognition” from 2003.

Pattern recognition is both a thriller and a visionary tale of a Western world where marketing is God.

Connect with Heidi Marie on Facebook
Visit her website

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