Janna Baibatyrova is a french kazakh russian illustrator living in Berlin, expert in papercuts and dreams, and very engaged in feminism. With a passion for travels and a compulsive desire to discover the world, Janna is interested in the numerous facets of the internet, vegan cuisine, queer culture and art in all its forms.
Read our Q&A with Janna to know more about her work and her design for the new Curated By GIRLS t-shirt collection.
Hi Janna! Please tell us a bit about your background as an artist; and how did you realise this was the right path for you? I’ve always wanted to create things. I remember wanting to be a writer when I was little, then a painter. Illustration is a combination of these two things: it brings ideas to life. Even if it’s a rather hard and sometimes frustrating job, I thrive on it 100%.
You have a very particular aesthetic. What is it inspired by? My main inspiration is the art world. I am very touched by the surrealist movement for the place it gives to dreams and the unconscious. I also grew up in a Slavic environment and of course, the cartoons of the Soyuzmultfilm studio have left their mark on my imagination.
Your work is very engaged in the feminist movement, gender diversity, and dealing with acceptance. How do you experience these personally and how does that translate in your work? As far as I can remember, I’ve never been comfortable with the “classic” view of femininity. Discovering my sexual orientation has led me to become more interested in feminism and gender issues. A few years ago, I created an intersectional feminist webzine with some friends, roseaux.co, and then we launched the Femplak movement in Berlin @femplak_berlin to fight femicides. Being an activist certainly influences my work, for example, I try to be as inclusive as possible in the characters I draw.
Let’s talk about your t-shirt “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH’, such a powerful design. What is the message and inspiration behind it? It’s one of the slogans of the Black Lives Matter movement. For me, it’s an invitation to act, to fight for justice. Together, despite the obstacles, we will change the world.
‘ENOUGH IS ENOUGH’ is one of the slogans of the Black Lives Matter movement. For me, it’s an invitation to act, to fight for justice. Together, despite the obstacles, we will change the world.
I wanted to draw a black woman who represents power and strong-will and reminds us that we can fight back even when we are hurt.
What kind of reaction do you hope to get from people who see your t-shirt? I hope people will wear it proudly and it will give them courage.
Jodie Foster said « I think an artist’s responsibility is more complex than people realize » what do you think? My French teacher once told me, “It would be known if books had the power to change the world”. But I believe that art shapes the world of tomorrow. I think it’s important for artists to support social struggles because they give it a voice and a body.
What changes do you hope to see in the future? I hope to live long enough to see an egalitarian and vegan society, where each living being could blossom without needing to exploit the other.