Not So Fast, Spaceman


Not so fast, Spaceman

Claire Johnson

“She hijacked the spaceship- so she did get something out of the arrangement. It wasn’t exactly what he had in mind.”

Interview by L. Valena

What did you respond to?

I got this comic book-style piece that had wording in it, and it had an alien that was about to be married to a girl. 

What was your first response?

I didn't like the content of the piece. It was well drawn, but I didn't like the implication of it.

What do you mean?

I don't like the idea of humans marrying non-humans. I am not okay with the idea of humans being with non-humans. I don't like the idea of that. I think that it is non-humanistic, and I try to be as humanistic as I can.

What happened next?

After I looked at it, I wondered if there was a way to showcase this feeling I was having. The girl didn't look like she had much of a choice. She was dressed in colonial garb, and maybe this was a pre-arranged marriage, or the alien had come and kidnapped her and married her for- I don't even know what. So I thought, if I was this girl, what would my reaction be to this situation? 

Because this piece of really reminiscent of the times, I was thinking I could maybe use a pop culture reference, which I don't usually do in my art. I thought of Kill Bill, and I thought what would she do? She wouldn't have that- she wouldn't want to be married to this alien. So in the piece that I responded with, first of all she's not in her colonial outfit anymore. She's in the Uma Thurman yellow striped suite, and she's holding her samurai sword, which didn't relate at all to the first piece, but in the background I put a spaceship. She hijacked the spaceship- so she did get something out of the arrangement. It wasn't exactly what he had in mind. She hijacked his spaceship and just ran for it.

Say more about what is was like to do this.

I haven't ever been a part of a project like this- I have done collaborations, but I have never made a full piece in response to another piece. I thought it would be interesting- I went in with an open mind. I knew that it wouldn't matter if I liked it or not- that's the power of art, it's just responding in your way. It's not what you start with, or even what you end with. Your piece could turn out not so well either, but whatever, you're just putting an expression of yourself into the work, and I think that's what it's about. 

That's the way I approach art- it doesn't actually matter how it looks in the end, I get the most enjoyment out of doing it. If it turns out good in the end, that's just the cherry on top. I think a lot of people will start an art project with the idea that this has to look good, and that makes a lot of sense if you're trying to visually express something and you want it to be appealing. But sometimes you just want to go for it, and that was what I had in mind for this type of project. It didn't matter what I started with and what I ended with, I just wanted to be a part of the project.

You said earlier that you try to be as human as possible. Can you expand on that a little bit?

My best way of explaining it is that doing art is a very human activity. It's a higher expression of yourself as a human being, and a lot of creatures in the world don't have that ability. The creation of art and other things- music, dance. Art, overall, is an expression of humanism. It's not animal, and it's not technological. It's a middle boundary. I think in the times that we're living in, there is this question that a lot of people have. Should I be an animal? Should I be a human? Or should I be some tech droid?

Wait, who chooses to be an animal?

Everyone has animal tendencies, and you can devolve into that, but most people choose a middle ground. I think we're living in such a weird time right now, and many people will be faced with the question later on in life: do you want to be a part of a tech world, or part of a human world? We've already surpassed the animal world- we're past that. But I think that's all coming, and I think that's being shown in art right now, and especially in pop media. I don't really watch a lot of stuff, but I was watching some movie shorts this week. A lot of the content and the ideas coming from the writers of them were very pro-tech, pro-AI, pro-mixing-things-together to see what we get; kind of Frankenstein-ish. I'm just waiting to see what's going to happen, and my stance on it, at the age I am now, is that I'm going to remain human, whether I could become a robot or not.

You're not going to be a cyborg?

No, I refuse it. I can smell it coming down the pipeline- I feel like it's a question that we're all going to have to face someday.

Is there anything else that you want to say about this?

I think that the idea is wonderful! I loved being part of the project- I connected with you guys originally on Instagram, and then I followed up on your website, and I just thought it was a really good idea. It is simple, and it allows people to interact.

Do you have any advice for others?

Stay human. Keep expressing yourself. It's about you and art at the end of the day- it's not about how people take your work, it's about you expressing your soul and putting yourself out there. It doesn't have to be a positive message, a negative message, or any kind of message that you're spreading through art, just keep expressing yourself. You'll find that things you didn't think of in the past will come to you. It keeps the mind fluid if you continue to push expressions of your soul out of your body, whether it takes a visual art form or not.

Call Number: C16VA | C21VA.joNo

Claire Johnson


Claire Johnson is a visual artist based in Scottsdale, Arizona with a background in Business. Her creative process focuses on detailed, psychedelic visuals with an elegant flair. A love of illusions, intricacy, and the bizarre has influenced Claire’s art in all forms, including Art Cars, sculptures, drawings and paintings.