Jan 17, 2015 10:37AM

Meet The Artist: Jodee Knowles

On skipping Phys Ed and taking advice from her Nan.

Jodee Knowles is a Sydney-based artist who creates arresting paintings of female figures with watery eyes that are full of feelings. Despite failing to achieve her high school dream of growing boobs, Jodee has been exhibited internationally and had a bunch of famous people buy her art. She's terrified of birds and stray hairs and the people that inspire her most are her mates. 

Jodee Knowles.

Jodee fkn Knowles.

The internet says you're from Perth, do you still live there?
I am from Perth, I now live in Sydney and I've been here for about five years. Loving it.

What were you into in high school?
Spending my lunch times in the art room, making the sets for our drama productions, avoiding any form of physical activity by writing fake sick notes and trying to grow breasts.

In what ways have you changed since then?
Well I still don't have breasts.

If you had to describe your artistic output in five words, what would you call it?
Self. Time. Human. Death. Confusion. Space.

A fascination with people and emotion comes across strongly in your work, where do you look for inspiration?
I find my inspiration in the books I read, the films that move me and humans. I am so confused and equally fascinated by life and death and the big bit in between where we just feel, try and exist. Most things completely break my heart based on a lack of understanding I just don't get it. So then I draw how I feel.

If you could stay a certain age forever what would it be?
I wouldn't stay one age. Every age is a new exciting experience. I don't wish to be older or younger, I am so lucky to just exist really.

If you could have any animal as a pet, what would you choose?
It's not an animal but maybe that super cute worm from The Labyrinth.

Some of your works play up negative space, how do you know when an artwork is finished?
The concept of a collection and the composition of the work generally take me the longest to consider. I always try to sketch out what I'm wanting but the image never turns out like that. The artwork generally lets me know when it's finished; I don't really have a say.

What scares you most?
I have an unnecessary fear of birds. I hate random bits of hair, like in your food or near your food, and death I guess, death of the people I love.

Best piece of advice you ever received?
My Nan always said, 'If they are talking about you, at least they are leaving someone else alone'.

What is a skill you wish you possessed?
The ability to help and save people.

Some of your work is pretty moody, how do you get in the zone?
This particular style of work I have been doing for about ten years now. I don't really need to get into a zone once the idea is there. The process of putting pen to paper is a tedious one but also very therapeutic, I know exactly where and how to move across the page. The emotional aspect of my works comes from my initial idea or concept and that takes a while to zone into.

What fictional character do you most relate to, and why?
Clementine Kruczynski from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, a loveable but lost, troubled soul, she is infectious and not your typical type of girl. I also really relate to Tomas from The Unbearable Lightness of Being. He is me if I were a male.

What celebrity do you have a crush on?
Now that is a secret.

Best Youtube clip you've ever seen?
Mmm maybe that one with the sloth crossing the road?

Which three people (dead or alive) would be your dream party guests?
Matthew Barney, Milan Kundera and Tim Burton.

You've been in a bunch of international shows over recent years, any highlights?
Every exhibition is a highlight and so random, the people you meet, the connections, it's just incredible that I get to be in this industry. I've had a bunch of famous people purchase my work and they always ask for a photo with me in front of the work, which blows my mind as I feel it should be the other way around, that is a highlight. Or when people purchase my work, that's strange to me, they relate so hard that they have to own it. That makes me feel like I've done my job.

Do you prefer crowds, small groups or being alone?
Each one of these I enjoy for different reasons, if I had [to pick] one I would not like it.

What's on rotation on your soundcloud at the moment?
Harry Chapin, Roy Orbison, The Cure and Keaton Henson.

What do you want to be when you grow up?
I don't think I'll ever grow up.

Who else's work do you admire, who are doing cool things atm?
Anthony Lister is my fav! Ian Strange (Kid Zoom) is always inspiring and doing massive projects I could only dream of doing! Alex Lekias and Tane Andrews are creating beautiful inspiring works too. I also have the pleasure of knowing all of these people so it makes life and art pretty great.

Will you send us a selfie?
Mmm ok… 

Photography: Romain Duquesne
Fashion: Bianca Freedman
Paintings: Jodee Knowles