Joni Belaruski is a London-based illustrator and drummer of the folk-punk band The Great Malarkey. As an artist, her speciality is in pens and paper, relatively small pieces with plans to set up a workshop sometime this year. As a musician, I don’t know because I didn’t ask her. Whatever.
The majority of Joni’s artwork is traditional media and she attributes her penchant for pen and paper to the busy lifestyle which keeps her moving around so often. It may be convenience which dictates the tools she uses, but I always think there’s something inherently attractive about penwork, and Joni’s no exception. Her art is gritty, grungy, rushed and raw.
When I first came across her art I was reminded of some of my favourite graphic novel illustrations. Her stuff has that informal, yet untouchable quality to it that separates scribbles and doodles from invariably fantastic artworks. Though she works in colours as well as monotones, I find her black and white pieces are easily my favourite and her use of shadows and negative space makes each subject an impenetrable, standalone fortress of style. You could glean a dozen different meanings for any given piece, and all of them would be irrelevant.
I spoke of hatching in a previous article, and it’s interesting to note that the same technique can produce such different results. Whereas the last time I wrote on the subject I lauded the use of hatching as a luxuriously immersive way of drawing a viewer in, Joni’s lines push the audience back, force them out. This is not artwork that you can fall into, these lines are a chisel put to a block of hard stone. These harsh edges and bitter angles are images pulling out of emptiness, and the chaos of her style leaves each finished illustration in a state of catechism.
But Joni’s lines are not an invitation for your evaluation. They are a statement.
Joni displays her artwork at independent exhibits, as well as in designs for authors and bands and on people. Tattoos for everyone! Her next showing is planned with the Underdog Gallery in spring although at this time no more information is available. We’ll be sure to bring you an update on her work in the coming months.
This artist is available for work or commission.