Born in England and raised all over the globe, J.A.W. Cooper has now settled herself in downtown Los Angeles. Developing her love of everything natural as she gallivanted around the world in her youth, it’s obvious in her artworks that she has an affinity with nature. Drawing inspiration from Curio shops, Natural History Museums and her collection of animal skulls, Cooper is inspired by the grotesque, alien and flawed. In between her busy schedule of freelance illustration and exhibitions, she was kind enough to have a quick chat to us about lions and tigers and hairless cats, oh my!
So, let’s talk about nipples. Your lovely ladies are often depicted in little to no clothing, have you ever run into any problems with censorship on Facebook or Instagram?
No, but I certainly have friends who have had their accounts closed because of nipples in artwork; which seems ridiculous to me but I don’t make the rules. I used to censor my images but it was a pain and confused people, so I figure I’ll keep showing my work in full until told otherwise.
You feature felines quite frequently throughout your work, what is it in particular that fascinates you about cats? And more importantly, do you have any pets?
I am fascinated by all animals but cats and large cats in particular have that certain ju ne se quois; which is french for the “ability to eviscerate you in one swift movement.” Earnestly I love the athleticism and power of their bodies and the grace of their movements. To many they are the embodiment of wildness and even the domesticated variety can easily revert to a feral existence.
What do you find is the most challenging part about being an artist?
This career requires that you invest a great deal of yourself – your fears, hopes, experiences, and perceptions – into your work and at the same time requires that you remain detached enough to be critical of that work. It is a difficult balance between vulnerability and professionalism and while you may be satisfied at times with your effort or growth, but you are never satisfied with what you produce, and in many ways you hope to never be. The moment that you are satisfied with your work is the moment that you stagnate, so it is imperative that you learn to see your career as a journey and not a destination.
Your handling of both animal and female features is quite delicate and beautiful, yet you also incorporate these dark and grotesque elements into your work. What is it about the combination that you enjoy creating?
I find imperfection and the contrast between the grotesque and the beautiful more captivating than beauty alone.