Illustration by Pia Gynell Jörgensen.

Illustration by Pia Gynell Jörgensen.

The 17-year-old Australian artist Pia Gynell-Jörgensen draws inspiration from her vast imagination, and loves to be among nature when making art. I spoke to Pia about her creative journey, her preferred media, and her love for insects.

MINNA GILLIGAN: How long have you been making art?

PIA GYNELL-JÖRGENSEN: I’ve been creating things ever since I was a chubby little toddler! I found a video of myself at about three, piling layers and layers of paint onto a canvas [alongside] my brothers. Although, in saying that, I probably classify some things as art that others wouldn’t–mud pies, for example.

Your parents are artists. Do you think being raised by them sparked your creative journey?

Absolutely. My whole family creates art, and being surrounded by creative people made me realize early [in my life] that this is what I want to do. I’ve been raised in an environment that thrives on art, so creation has been as simple as breathing and talking.

What materials do you use to make work, and what environment do you predominantly create in?

My essentials are my mechanical pencil and an Artline 0.4mm point pen. I also use various acrylic paints and Prismacolor pencils, which are a dream. I don’t have a specific brand of paper that I work on, but I love the texture of Arches watercolor paper. As for the environment, I am surrounded by succulents, but I don’t work at a desk. I always end up splayed out on the floor. It works better for me. I feel like I can really get into the piece I’m working on. I’ve actually gotten rid of several desks to make more floor room!

Who are your subjects?

My portraits are completely reflections of the self. I think every creation is. All of my drawings are very introspective—sometimes I don’t see that until I’ve finished. As for the figures, I never intend to draw myself, or anyone specific. Lots of people assume that they’re me, which I find quite flattering.

To me, it appears as though your works are heavily invested in fantasy and the imagination. What is it about these realms that attract you?

The imagination is probably the most amazing thing ever! I’m really interested in our minds and everything inside it, and everything that isn’t reality. I’ve never referred to it as fantasy, though—just another metaphysical reality. It’s these thoughts that lead to the existential crisis that is my work. All of my art is introspective, and I use my drawings to observe and analyze my mind. I think a lot about fantasy and reality, and they become very blurred in my head. Those thoughts pour onto the paper.

I see lots of insects in your drawings, like butterflies, cicadas, and moths. Is there symbolism associated with these inclusions?

I’m not aware of any symbolism. I think I just love bugs! They’re all incredibly beautiful, moths especially. In my head, insects sit in the same realm as mountains, plants, and teeth. [They’re] all these weird things that I group together and seem to connect. I usually draw them together.

Do you spend a lot of time in nature? If so, does it influence your practice?

I do. I love to be among nature. It’s one of the most inspirational environments. I often sit on a big, wooden table in my backyard. It’s so beautiful and exhilarating to be surrounded by trees and birds, with the sun shining through the great, blue sky right above me. When I’m in my room, I’ve got my little potted plants around me, and they often make it into my art, too.

Are you also experimenting with digital work?

Yes, I would love to learn to create digital art. I rarely work digitally, because I prefer to be able to touch and feel what I’m working on, but I sometimes edit or apply color digitally.

Who are some artists you are inspired by?

My biggest point of inspiration from other artists is my favorite band, Tame Impala. Other than that, I find the art of Wes Anderson, Henrietta Harris, Jasper Hills, Ines Jakovljević, Oliver Jeffers, Samantha O’Farrell and Beth Hoeckel to be hugely inspiring.

What would you like to accomplish in the future with your artistic practice?

I am going to do this forever. I decided that a long time ago. Even if I don’t support myself by being an artist, I will be an artist. I aim to go to the University of Melbourne [in Australia]. I think that will open some amazing doors for me. My dream is to share a studio with many artists of all different kinds. We will work together, inspire one another, and create beautiful things by bouncing ideas off of one another.

What are three words that would describe your artwork?

Beautiful, existential mess. ♦

If you’re a bad-person painter and want me to check out your work, please email [email protected] with the subject line “Bad girl painter.” Please include a link to your blog, Instagram, or website.