Q&A with Joanna Du

A head and shoulders image of Joanna Du. Joanna has long, straight black hair, a black beret, black winged eyeliner and a black long sleeved shirt. She is standing against a light coloured brick wall. The image is overlaid over an indistinct, beige background. The image is viewed on the camera of a smartphone.

JOANNA DU is a Melbourne-based artist who spends her time making coffee, climbing, and struggling to define herself. Though art has always been a hobby, she decided to regard it as a profession after featuring in an exhibit at her favourite climbing gym. From there, she began regularly creating zines and taking commissions, focusing on remaining simple and abstract. For a literature graduate, she finds that she expresses herself poorly through words, as she is a straightforward and blunt person by nature. Her art allows her to explore the more complex parts of herself that her words fail to express.

Our Associate Editor, Panda Wong, interviews Joanna Du about her comic ‘Flattery’, published in #17 THEFT.

Your comic ‘Flattery’ is an incredibly visceral representation of the consuming nature of flattery—what prompted this piece?

Having experienced the theft of many objects—a laptop, my dad’s old film camera, a handmade doll—I wanted to depict what I felt to be the most harmful and continuous form I have faced: theft of a creative or intellectual nature. No theft haunts me like the robbing of the idea and identity. 

I was often told to accept this theft as a form of flattery. I explore, as you put it, how consuming and cyclical this craving is.

Can you give us some insight on your process when making comics? What inspirations and influences do you turn to?

It is honestly a slow and painful process. I will usually be sitting in silence looking around and into myself, scraping up the lingering thoughts I have bottled up, and moulding them into something cathartic. 

I also have a long-standing fascination with horror and the morbid, and I think that shows quite prominently through my work. 

What plans do you have for your comic practice in 2020?

My delicate balance of the trinity of Cs—my planned careers in comics, climbing, and coffee—has been disturbed by the effects of COVID-19. Fortunately, this means a greater focus on exploring more mediums and formats of expression—perhaps with an even greater emphasis on the existing theme of solitude. 

I like to keep my practice experimental and exciting for myself, but plan to continue working on accessible zines, as well as commission pieces and collaborative projects where the opportunity arises! 

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About Panda Wong 2 Articles
PANDA WONG is an Associate Editor at The Suburban Review. Panda is a poet, writer and living personification of ‘I’m baby’ living in Narrm/so-called Melbourne. She has performed at Emerging Writers Festival, Digital Writers Festival, Liminal, and the Melbourne Spoken Word Prize. She writes about navigating the complex and annoying landscape of grief.