Down the Rabbit Hole: Janna Pak's Illustrations

Illustrations give life to stories that are bound in vernacular, they add another dimension to a tale that’s bound to a single medium. If it’s the illustrations that you find on the back of newspapers to tales told by our ancestors. The works of Roald Dahl are embedded within every westerner’s mind, for their vivid imagery and articulation of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach giving a pseudo-reality vision to a story with greater meaning.

When Lawrence Fishbourne aka Morpheus approached Keanu Reeves, Neo, in the movie “Matrix” whether he wants to see the Matrix with his own eyes, he used a particular comparison. “This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill - the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill - you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.“

Janna Pak photographed by Matan Eshel.

Janna Pak photographed by Matan Eshel.

During the Summer that just passed I interviewed a very talented young illustrator by the name of Janna Pak. We discussed art, the trials and tribulations of an arts student and her final project a personalized version of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland.

Pak's Alice.

Pak's Alice.

Pak started her career at the Bezalel Academy of Arts in Jerusalem but in her words “I’m an illustrator rather than artist,” and moved to study at Minshar in Tel-Aviv. Through my grasp of illustration, I do consider illustrators as artists due their renditions on stories and the physical act of illustrating regardless of their medium of work.

 

 

 

The Last Unicorn, a movie that was a blockbuster hit in the United States in 1982 was Pak’s initial encapsulation towards illustration. The movie gave Eastern art a western home and the visuals were innovative back then within the world of cartoon cinema. Currently Pak has an array of projects under her belt and the one that stand out the most      is her “Alice” project which took her only three months to complete. 

Permanent features on Alice include shoulder length hair and thick eyebrows.

Permanent features on Alice include shoulder length hair and thick eyebrows.

I felt connected to Alice and the journey to find the exact Alice I wanted to portray was a long road. I even started drawing with my left hand to have a clean slate to begin with.
— Janna Pak

When browsing the physical copy of Pak’s finished project, Wonderland feels different and authentic. Alice has very thick eyebrows, dark black hair and isn’t dressed like a beauty rather really really lost in an unknown realm. One of the most striking visual experiences of looking at the artwork is Pak’s mastery of water colors and her words you’re either master water color or it’s your worst enemy, in Pak’s case it’s a flourishing relationship that’s meant for eternity.

Creating space in illustrations is a struggle that many illustrators face since they want to have a palette of features in their work and there’s always a constant mantra to find the sweet spot for the creator. Coming from a visual arts background, minimalism is key, something that says a lot without projecting too many.

Previous projects that Pak had done dealt with typography and technology, even though her preferred method of work is manual. Mr. Sun was an app that would tell you the weather in nice or hectic way depending on the weather. The app was characterized by person giving the user a feel of connection to the product with the medium of a character. At end of the day, Pak has her own vision of stories and services offered by companies online and excels in her vision at least in my opinion.

You can follow Janna's work on Instagram and Facebook.

Pak gazing into artwork at Minshar College.

Pak gazing into artwork at Minshar College.