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Janet Kutin: Reality with weirdness creeping in

Our patrons community has helped us to give a grant to illustrator, animator and storyteller, Janet Kutin—aka the INKtrovert—whose meditative approach to her illustration comes through in vivid, multi-layered characters. Janet approached us with a very personal project, giving her the opportunity to expand into writing along with her illustrations, to produce a “small, but personally ambitious” anthology.

We often find artists have passion projects locked away in them just waiting for the opportunity to be expressed, and these can often be incredibly moving, full-blooded works that shed light on the world around us. Join our Patrons scheme for as little as £5 / month – and we can keep supporting artists like Janet who have even more hidden depths to show us all.

Hi Jae. Can you introduce yourself to our good readers.

Hey, I’m ‘The INKtrovert’… but yes, more commonly known as Jae… and also sometimes Janet. I’m a film-obsessed Storyteller that’s been trading (and hiding) under that not-so-covert-personally-trait brand name for about 10 years now, having started during University—but long before that, I was telling stories in my journals and on the covers of my school books.

You’re an Illustrator, an Animator, but most of all a Storyteller. How do these elements come together in your practice?

They get involved with each other, because although my role has mainly been illustrating, concepts naturally branch out. I usually have specific ideas that I don’t want to be limited.

I personally use animation and writing in varied ways, or collaborate with others, rather than execute certain parts of a project myself—because I have a healthy awareness of where I lack in my abilities. It really depends on the project, but Illustration is my primary practice—I know it very well. Some briefs, whether self-initiated or not, call for an extension of myself so that’s why I chose the title Storyteller. It neatly explains what I do, but also sparks intrigue because the word can mean something different to everyone, resulting in more questions about my work, which is not bad.

You have the ability to be able to give even simply drawn characters real personality. What is your process regarding creating engaging characters through your work?

My process is slow and probably seems unnecessarily long to most people. By that I mean I delight in studying characteristics, researching beyond what I am seeing and including salient themes or elements even if it is a simple task; I meditate on them, if that makes sense. I love hiding motifs and small but (to me) significant details in my work that may appear random to some. To be honest, I don’t think I can fully articulate how I give ‘life’ to some of my drawings—I think that’s just how I see them in my head so they actually look normal to me! I guess my artistic expression mixed with years of skill-learning has developed a collectively weird, familiar method to my making.

It’s a privilege to be able to support a new project you’re working on through our patrons scheme. Can you talk us through it?

So this project started years ago when I was having a bit of a rough time in all areas of my life. When something like this happens, I tend to write rather than draw; it flows more naturally. I was frustrated and confused about a lot of things going on with me. So, not wanting to simply write about what was happening exactly, I tried a more productive approach to process it all. This anthology I am putting together is a raw, written reflection on myself with a few illustrations here and there (in addition to some somewhat colourful prints to keep the mood light). It’s small, but ambitious on a personal level, so my only hope is that I can produce something I can boldly share.

To keep up with Jae’s work, follow her on Instagram.