Johanna Warberg | The Norwegian, Naomi Campbell-Approved Artist Is Reacting to the Now

Written by

Audra McClain

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Photo Credit: Johanna Warberg ![Photo Credit: Johanna Warberg](https://images.squarespace-cdn.com/content/v1/56c346b607eaa09d9189a870/1594328826523-J33D4T0ERTINF3E0TTSA/JohannaWarberg_FLAUNT.png) Photo Credit: Johanna Warberg If you go to [Johanna Warberg’s Instagram](https://www.instagram.com/sosialantenne/?hl=en) you’ll probably see one of your favorite creators drawn in her unique style. Frank Ocean, Billie Eilish, Queen, and David Bowie are just a few of the celebs that the 23-year-old has featured on her page over the past few months. But her skills aren’t limited to celebrity portraits. Sculptures, phone cases, comic panels, edgy drawings of animals with facial piercings, and most recently a customized skateboard are also peppered into her colorful feed. With a following of just over six thousand, Johanna also uses her artistic talent to spread a message of awareness and activism. Last month she created a piece dedicated to 88 unarmed black individuals who lost their lives to police brutality. Shared by celebrities like Naomi Campbell and Todrick Hall, her work has been seen by millions. Read our interview below, where we talk this moment in time, her creative process, and of course the rhythm and theory of color. Justice\_FLAUNT.png ![Justice_FLAUNT.png](https://images.squarespace-cdn.com/content/v1/56c346b607eaa09d9189a870/1594329184628-IOCBUL7N6SF6EXWBL2PH/Justice_FLAUNT.png)  **Your portrait style sets you apart from other portrait artists. How did you develop that style?** The funny thing is that a lot of people believe I do the naive drawing style on purpose. The truth is, that’s actually how I draw and it’s the best I can do, haha! However, I feel like that raw style works good as a caricature, and how I perceive the person, so I just stick with it. I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback on my portraits, and people say stuff like: “It looks exactly like them, but at the same time it doesn’t!”. I guess people find my unpolished portraits kind of charming. They actually like the fact that the drawings do not look 100% realistic, but rather a bit foolish and cartoony. Tyler The Creator\_FLAUNT.png ![Tyler The Creator_FLAUNT.png](https://images.squarespace-cdn.com/content/v1/56c346b607eaa09d9189a870/1594329278728-1D0OW1QYSZCRJBC748WR/Tyler+The+Creator_FLAUNT.png) **You have drawn numerous celebrities from the likes of Tyler, The Creator to Nelson Mandela, who has been your favorite person to draw?** I really enjoyed drawing Donald Glover (aka. Childish Gambino) and Billie Eilish’s portraits. Billie Eilish has some very distinct features that are easily recognizable, and it is fun getting to draw alternative hair colors etcetera. Donald Glover was also amusing to draw because I like drawing small details and he has a nice amount of beard and lovely hair. I’m not necessarily the biggest fan of all the artists I draw. My personal taste in music is 60s-70s - rock and disco. I’ve drawn a handful of modern musicians that I don’t necessarily listen to personally, but I get a lot of requests as well as commissions to draw them. Most of my sales are prints of these artists, as they have a lot of fans. For example, I’ve drawn the Norwegian king and queen a bunch of times even though I’m not necessarily drawn to them, nor a fan of monarchs. However, a lot of people hang my portrait of them in their house, as many Norwegians cherish the royal family so I produce what people want and what I sell the most of. **What does your typical creative process look like from start to finish?** It usually starts out with me getting hundreds of ideas in the middle of the night, while trying to sleep. When I first get an idea, I write or sketch it down right away. Then, the next morning when I sit down to work, I try to make my idea come to life by just playing around with whatever appears on the paper. The result usually turns out as a surprise even to me, because I don’t really plan ahead of drawing. However, what happens more often is that I just sit at my desk and stare at the wall. I usually space out, overthink, get a creative block, feel frustrated, cry a little bit, get a really negative mindset, and end up laying down on the floor in a fetal position and give up. Whenever this happens, it usually takes some time before I’m finally able to create and draw – and it turns out okay after all. **Most of your pieces are posted in several different color schemes, why not just one?** I have some repeating color-schemes that I use frequently. I like to use complementary colors and colors that compliment and contrast each other. Despite liking to experiment with different schemes, I wish I could decide on one for each drawing, because it would look nice and tidy in my Instagram feed. But my style is all over the place and I can never decide on sticking to one color scheme. What even is my style? What do I enjoy creating? I think people may notice that I am dealing with an eternal identity crisis in my feed, I never know exactly what I want, haha! I like not feeling like things have to be a certain way all the time. ERIC ANDRE\_FLAUNT.png ![ERIC ANDRE_FLAUNT.png](https://images.squarespace-cdn.com/content/v1/56c346b607eaa09d9189a870/1594329065719-JIAVTKWB91NHA43MWON7/ERIC+ANDRE_FLAUNT.png) **Eric Andre reposted your piece of him and even made it his Instagram profile photo. How does it feel to see your work on his page?** It is unbelievable to me, and I still haven’t really processed it! Every time I see his profile picture I forget that I am the one who made it, so I guess I am still in denial. It was a pretty funny moment when I found out he shared it and put it as his profile photo. A buddy of mine messaged me Andre’s post on Instagram, and wrote “How cool is that, Johanna!”. At first I thought he just sent me my _own_ post, and I just thanked him casually. It took me a moment to realize what I was even looking at. When I did I was shocked, delighted and honestly kind of scared? I had never gotten that much attention for my art before, and I knew that a lot of strangers would look at my art. It was a kind of turning-point for me, as I no longer felt anonymous and in a safe space. Despite the scary parts of it, it’s still exciting and cool to me, it makes me feel a somewhat proud of myself, and it’s helping me build a little bit more confidence. **You just drew a photo of 88 unarmed black individuals who have been killed due to police brutality, what was the inspiration behind that piece?** Like many others, I felt frustrated and saddened by what happened and what is continually happening to BIPOC. I decided on using my platform the same way I did during the Australia crisis. I wanted to spread awareness. What else could I do? I’m not trying to be a ¨savior¨ in any way, I just want to help in any way I can. I found a list of names shared by a huge amount of activists and decided to draw a portrait of every name on the list. I wanted to further spread awareness to more victims instead of focusing solely on George Floyd. My goal was to make visible how this is not just a one-time thing, but something that happens all the time. The fight is not over, and my job is not done just because I made _one_ BLM post. I work hard on being anti-racist every day, and I want to use my art as a form of activism. **That piece was shared by dozens and even by Naomi Cambpell to her 9.3 million Instagram followers? How does it feel to see your art reach so many people?** It feels unreal. Like when Eric Andre shared my art, I was not aware that Naomi had shared it until I randomly stumbled upon it. I was completely shocked, and I was so excited, like “Wow! Naomi Campbell said my name!” I was so starstruck, haha! Again, I had never imagined my art would have an impact that big, or even be shared by so many. I am happy I could make something important, and especially something important for a lot of BIPOC. It makes me feel good that they feel seen and heard and that I am able to do something to help spread awareness. I have gotten DMs from black people thanking me for putting a spotlight on more victims. Even family of some of the portraited victims have reached out to me and thanked me. “Thank you for letting my brother/aunt never be forgotten”, they write, and it touches my heart. It is important for me to use my platform, and my voice, to help and do something important for others.  **Other than portraits, what are some of your favorite subjects to feature in your art?** I like drawing political and philosophical stuff and things that criticize society. Mental health, feminism and human rights are also important subjects to me, and I think it’s important to create a statement with my art. I want to share my political views and what I stand for. I have always been a political person, and I like that art has made it possible for me to participate in social and political discussions on my own terms. For example, I made and sold portraits of Australian animals in order raise money for bushfire organizations. I felt so powerless and sad watching the forests burn and all the wildlife and humans having to escape from their homes. I decided I could create and sell art as a way to help. **What can we expect to see from you in the future?** I guess you will see more art pieces inspired by current events, and pieces about stuff happening in our society. I’m also assuming a good amount of celebrity portraits, I guess that has sort of become my thing now, haha. Maybe I’ll publish a book, or become a teacher? I am not sure. We will have to see how things work out. Check out Johanna’s website [here](https://www.sosialantenne.no/)!