Joana Avillez

Joana Avillez (b. 1986) is an illustrator in New York City.

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01    NOSTALGIA: What was felt more deeply because it took you back to your past?

January is always a deeply felt time of the year for me -- especially January 25th -- the anniversary of my dad's passing. I usually buy some flowers and go about my day as usual but with slightly stronger more introspective pangs of thinking about him -- but in truth -- I am always thinking about him. He gave me everything that I am. His soul, his humor, and his nose are all mine!

02    DETAIL:

On the last day of 2018, on the eve of the first day of this month and year, my boyfriend and I were in Italy. In the morning we drove about 45 minutes from Rome to a desolate village in Umbria, to visit his childhood friend and his wife and their baby at their country house. Like any good supposedly abandoned medieval town, its emptiness was betrayed by the sight and smell of a few smoking chimneys. The day was magnificently crisp and bright. We sat together in their house, cavelike and painted pale blue. We congregated at the balcony overlooking a horizon so curved it would make a flat-Earther faint. We shared a piece of meat cooked in the fireplace and opened a bottle of wine from 1993. The laughing and smiling baby demanded eye-contact and funny faces; the dog organized its limbs within the rampant shards of sunlight. The five of us took a post lunch stroll, or giro, through the town, seeing no one but ourselves living there forever.

And then, my boyfriend and I got back in the car and drove to Milan. As you just thought correctly, this is too much for one day, but we were due at New Year's Eve dinner at the home of my dear friend Olimpia's mother. The drive was five hours. For all of it, a heavy, deep mist hugged the highway. Nothing was visible! A cotton ball had eaten Earth! We arrived blearily an hour before midnight. Through the increased Northern chill and darkness we opened the door to beaming friends, traditional Italian New Year's eve lentils, sparklers, champagne, and 2019.

03    INDULGENT: When were you indulgent?

Indulgence doesn't just have to be gorging on chocolate pound cake, right? After a ravishing end of 2018 I tried to indulge in the simple boringness of everyday work and walking the dog and cooking dinner and admiring the contents of my compost bucket.

04    SELF-INDULGENT: When were you indulgent?

I went to the sauna about 10 times. In winter it is critical to keep yourself heated from within.

05    MINOR SECRETS: Describe something you did in private.(Perhaps not a "secret," but maybe something that never occurred to you to share…)

Since I work by myself I often feel like everything I do during the day is private. Here is a quote I love from fiber artist Lenore Tawney, "I thought, But I don't have to show it to anybody; it's just for myself. And I felt so free! I did as I wanted!" That's what being an illustrator feels like to me, (with a hefty dash of balancing client needs and expectations).

06    PARE BACK: Did you simplify something?

Did I ever! I live in my father's old loft — my golden handcuffs are dreamy and piled high with NYNEX phone bills from 1993. I excavated drawers full of old paper and brought them to the shredder. I went through my own sketchbooks from the past nine years, wincing and marveling at my old self, recycling what wasn't needed. I tried to simplify and clean-out what is hidden inside cupboards and on shelves and behind doors.

07    CULTURE LIST: What was read, watched, seen, listened to? And consider the ratio between the mediums.

This month I read Michelle Obama's "Becoming," which my mom gave to me. The pages of my copy are now wavy soggy; it made me cry so much. Now I am just beginning "The Land at the End of the World" (or "Os Cús de Judas") by António Lobo Antunes, a Portuguese author my dad was friends with. They were in the same Portuguese war in (on) Africa and I'm curious to learn Antunes' perspective, which I know was the same as my father's. And I watched some trash TV, naturally.


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My dad and I in my grandmother's garden, Azeitão, Portugal.

My dad and I in my grandmother's garden, Azeitão, Portugal.

Drawing of SF and I done on tablecloth at Sora Margherita, Rome.

Drawing of SF and I done on tablecloth at Sora Margherita, Rome.

Lenore Tawney

Lenore Tawney

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