Originally from the Bay area, Joy Fitzgerald is never quite satisfied with what she is producing, and maybe that is why her work is so respected. Working primarily in black and white, her illustrations are never tired or overworked, but rather please the eye with their subtle intricacy.
At a young age, Joy was interested in typography. Peering over her Dad’s architectural notebooks from college and studying his signature was a hobby of hers. To this day, she is unsure of what her true handwriting may be, having emulated so many others’ handwriting throughout the course of her life.
Although Joy was always interested in the arts, she was not encouraged to pursue an artistic career. “Coming from a Korean family, you don’t do art for a living. I had to quell my interest because it simply couldn’t come to fruition.” It was at 24 years old, while working in a cubicle that Joy began blogging her illustrations. “It was supposed to feel like someone was peeking into my sketchbook.” The blog took off, and it gave Joy the confidence to begin illustrating more. People began contacting her for jobs, and she was shocked that she could get paid for her illustrations; however, the idea of leaving her corporate job downtown was still very intimidating. Not wanting to have any regrets in her life, Joy eventually quit her job and began freelancing full-time.
Joy’s first job right after leaving the corporate world was with Kinfolk–– a cultural lifestyle magazine that opened a Portland office in 2013. Her delicate illustrations and calligraphy were featured in several issues, which led to a cult-like following of her amongst bloggers and artists. But, it was after the birth of her son, James “Nunu” (a nickname derived from his Korean name) that her artistic self blossomed. “Being a mother has expanded my idea of what it means to be creative.” Her most cherished creative moments now involve the both of them, in which she can watch him experiment. Her son’s childlike, unselfconscious painting has led her to see the beauty in possessing a lack of constraint. This collaborative process between mother and son creates a poetic balance between his art and her own.
Joy and Nunu’s collaborative art has brought many inquiries for the Fitzgerald family to post more photos of their life online. Wanting to maintain Nunu’s privacy on social media they decided to create a book. “August to August”, published by Ransom Limited Editions, will feature unseen photographs of the Fitzgerald family all shot by Joy’s husband James. The book will be released at the Tokyo Art Book Fair this September, and will include photos of their travels to Paris, Tokyo, Canada, and Colorado, as well as some photographs at their home in Portland. The book’s official release is in October.