Joanna Spicer has been drawing her twins and posting the artwork on Instagram since their birth. In Varoom 42 Anna Steinberg talks to her about this remarkable record that captures the animation of young children without sentimentality.
Spicer’s images are an unusual combination of refreshing rawness and fragile beauty, and the series is a reminder to illustrators of the value of retaining an authentic voice either within, or alongside their commissioned work. Spicer mentions falling out of love with her commercial output from earlier in her career, and feeling trapped by popular work that she felt became empty.
Having twins meant that previous venues for observational sketches were less accessible to Spicer, and although she had never tried to depict babies or children before, she decided to draw them. She describes an awkward start which initially focussed too much on depicting a likeness, that she felt was overly fussy.
At the outset, Spicer had two distinct intentions, one being to create a record to show the twins when they are older, and the other to find a means of reconnecting with a sense of normality following the birth. The experience was bound up with anxiety and six weeks in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). As Spicer explains: “I needed to draw to feel like myself.”