Twenty year old Natalie Jovanovic is an artist who lives in Bradford and describes herself as “wittering” as she tells me that Sean Ono Lennon, Rufus Hound and Ricky Gervais are fans of her work, which she (again rather self-deprecatingly) describes as “daft doodles”. At first glance, Natalie’s artwork provokes shock: penises and the c-word galore! And then it makes you smile. And then you see why she’s done it. And then it resonates. And I guess that’s the point. That’s art.
I spoke with Natalie about her work – why does she do it? Is there an agenda? And rather mercenarily – does it pay?
…so many people need to be told they’re a cunt but in a gentle and polite way. I believe the doodle achieves this.
“I’ve always been into drawing”, she explains. “I burst out of the womb and onto the canvas! I began creating daft doodles actively about a year ago. For the last three years I’ve been experiencing severe and chronic back pain (I have disc bulges all along my spine). It causes me a lot of trouble and pain, so it became difficult to do strenuous activities, even including artwork. I needed to adapt my skill so that I could create pieces quickly and with minimal effort.”
“I’ve always admired satirical cartoons and I’m a naturally very witty person. So, one day I just let my pen go wild and I produced a funny swearing snail. I thought nothing of it and posted it on Instagram for a laugh. To my surprise, it received a lot of love. From the moment I just went for it and continued to produce funny doodles (mainly of slugs and snails). Eventually I began creating more politically satirical illustrations as British politics is a natural comedy sketch. Certain political figures are so easy to turn into a daft doodle so I thought why not? And so, because of its positive response, I have persisted with such daftness.”
British politics is a natural comedy sketch.
There’s no doubt that Natalie’s work is difficult to ignore. Whist for some it raises a wry smile, it’s not difficult to imagine the types of people who would object to and tut at Natalie’s creations. I put this to her. “I do sometimes worry that people might see my work as negative and controversial, but I believe that if art doesn’t move you, it’s not art. Art is supposed to be tongue-in-cheek and say the things that sometimes we are afraid of expressing through speech or actions. However, I don’t take myself or my work too seriously so I don’t see why anyone else should.”
Notoriously difficult to break into, I’m interested to know if Natalie is managing to earn a living from her artwork, and if not, why do it? What motivates her to keep on keeping on? “Originally my artwork was produced just for fun, but I received a lot of encouragement to sell it so eventually I set up my own shop on Redbubble, www.redbubble.com/people/feckingwizard.”
“So far it’s not been massively successful but I don’t really mind. Sure it’d be great if my art could earn some cash but it’s a hard industry to make a living out of. Also, I’m quite charmed by the idea of people being able to enjoy my art freely, a bit like Banksy. He just sprays a wall and the world can enjoy it for free.”
I asked Natalie to talk me through some of her favourite pieces.
“The first doodle I produced. I’ve always been quite fond of snails until I realised how foul mouthed they are. I created this illustration because so many people need to be told they’re a cunt but in a gentle and polite way. I believe the doodle achieves this. ”
“Quite an X rated one. Donald Trump is a dick. ‘Nuff said. ”
“My first political doodle. I do not like the current Tory government, especially when Osborne confessed he’s an NWA fan. If he was a member, this would be his album and top track.”
“Despite my bad language and warped sense of humour, I can be serious. The refugee crisis is shocking and difficult to witness. I couldn’t cope with the prejudice and fear that was aimed at innocent people fleeing conflict in their hometowns. This illustration was created to remind people that we are all equal as humans and we all deserve to be treated with equal love and respect. ”
Kim is a writer who enjoys celebrity gossip a lot more than she lets on.