Johnna Slaby(artist)

Johnna Slaby is an artist from the lively neighborhood of Ikuno in Osaka, Japan. She has recently moved to Cambridge in England and continues to inspire many with her vibrant paintings.

When we saw spotted some KINTO products in an Instagram post of Johnna’s studio, we knew she would be the right artist to approach to create the visuals for our new playlist.

We asked Johnna about her approach to art.
- What sparked your passion for painting?
In my childhood I was an ardent pianist. I loved playing the piano, but after nine or ten years I worked myself into such a state that I was practicing even in my sleep. But then one day I chanced upon a little urban sketch that liberated me from all my anxieties. It moved me to pick up some watercolors, and I have been painting ever since.
- I love your bold colors and abstract drawings. Where do you draw your inspiration from?
For me, it’s all in the everyday experience. I look for things that give me pleasure, like how my body feels after eating certain foods or how certain clothes make me feel, and work them into my daily routine. By repeatedly exposing myself to these feelings and experiences, they turn into rhythms and patterns and colors that layer my paintings to give them depth. When I start a new piece, I do choose an experience to focus on and set myself a “destination” but I don’t get too hung up about it. I find the best thing is to relax and let my intuition guide me through the journey.
- Can you share the story about coffee that led to our collaboration?
I was working in a café in Japan, and there were all these coffee grounds being thrown into the trash every day; I often wondered if I could do anything with it. Around that time I was exploring textured expressions, so I tried mixing some grounds into the paint. It turned out to be just the effect I was looking for. Coffee grounds are now an important medium for me.
Eventually I decided I want to have good coffee at home too, which is why I have a KINTO in my studio. I love it because it is simple, functional, and comfortable to use.
- Is there anything new that you tried, or want to try for this project?
With the theme of this project being “to relax”, I wanted to know what relaxation would visually look like. Because I usually move at a very fast and hectic pace when I create, I decided to go against my natural tendencies to speed things up. What would happen if I close my eyes and drag my pencil across the paper? What if I create “accidental” spills of paint and let them sink into the page? What would it look like to combine colors that aren’t supposed to be together? I thought that maybe, I could discover more things to love and a new space where I can be myself.
Johnna Slaby
Born in Nara Prefecture, Japan, Johnna was an aspiring musician before she chanced upon a life-changing urban sketch and turned her talents to watercolor painting. In 2018 she was invited to give a talk in New York, and in 2019 she held a solo exhibition at the TRUNK (HOTEL) in Tokyo. Johnna moved to London, UK in 2020 where she is pursuing the next step of her career.

Listen to KINTO’s playlist here.