Meet the Artist Putting Story into Minimalism

‘Where ART Meets DESIGN’ is the main clue we’re given to understanding the work of Bee Jewel, the Hamburg-based artist who shares her minimalist art via Instagram.

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Bee’s meditative art comprises mostly of illustration, but also incorporates photographs. Some of her images remain simply minimal – a distant runner passing a tree upon a hilltop. Some twist reality – camels walk in the desert in front of pink skies. Others take on absurd dimensions – holiday-goers relax in a coconut swimming pool against an abstract, two-tone background. Umbrellas, trees, and birds are no stranger to her world.

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We took a seat with the artist to discuss her work.

THE PLUS: How do your ideas for illustrations come to you?
Bee Jewel:
I’m fascinated by human nature and the role we play in modern society. I mostly draw on things I’ve experienced or observed around me. Usually, I wake up with new ideas, sometimes even in the middle of the night – some absurd, others more easy to grasp. There are two ways in which I approach my work. I either have a story to tell and create an image to fit that story, or I create an image and while doing so a story unfolds in my mind. Story and image very well stand on their own, but together they form a unity. Humour plays a big part in my work, it lends a certain lightness to serious reality.

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TP: Tell us about the process of creating an image.
BJ:
I start by sketching my idea either on paper or on my iPad, add photographic images if necessary, play around with shape and colour, draw some more until the piece looks just right. This process can take anywhere from one hour to several weeks.

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TP: What’s your approach to adding colour?
BJ:
Since I was raised by artistic parents in the tradition of Bauhaus my first choices of colour were, and still are, black, white and grey, but the girl in me loves pink and aqua shades, so I throw Bauhaus correctness into the wind if I feel like it! But my upbringing in strictly minimalist surroundings, with Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier and Arne Jacobson being family heroes and present in furniture and objects around our home. I can’t bring myself to venture into kitschy territory. Exuberance is not for me. Surreal or deconstructed reality on occasion, though.

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TP: What attracts you to minimalism?
BJ:
Minimalism for me is not just an art form but a way of life – the way I furnish my home, the objects (or lack thereof) I surround myself with, the clothes I wear and the way I prepare my meals.

TP: What kind of emotions do you want to bring out in your viewers?
BJ:
Art to me has to evoke emotions, be relatable, trigger a discourse, have soul, and generally speak to you! Just looking ‘cool’ doesn’t do it for me. There is a lot of minimal work floating around these days, especially on Instagram, that leaves me puzzled, bored or cold. What does a tack in a wall casting a shadow want to tell me? Even extreme minimalism should have some meaning. By posting a lot of my images on Instagram I can gauge people’s reactions almost immediately. Most of the time I’m pretty amazed to see how people engage in my captions and capture their imaginations by sharing their own stories, dreams or memories. They thank me for making them smile, or like one lady just wrote me: “Your work is like Yoga to me.” So it seems that I reach my audience on different levels: visually, emotionally and intellectually. That to me as an artist is incredibly rewarding!

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TP: In your opinion, does the world lack simplicity?
BJ:
We live in such a fast-paced world where it’s easy to lose yourself. Reducing complex situations to the bare essentials, makes them easier to understand. Simplicity is a helpful tool to let people stay in control and cope.

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All images are copyrighted by Bee Jewel, and may not be used commercially without consent.

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