"Honest, heartbroken, hopeful." Twenty Something artist Natalia Granwal
Sydney based twenty-something artist, Natalia Granwal, captures the delicate and devastating experiences of a young, vulnerable human who is slowly but surely figuring their shit out. Her work is both deeply personal and highly relatable, telling the tale of a broken heart, a deep well of intimacy and the universal feeling of inadequacy. She speaks with Twenty Something Humans about her creative process, offers advice for making it to the other side of a creative slump and reminisces on her 17-year-old self.
Describe your work in just three words.
Honest, heartbroken, hopeful.
Your artwork seems like a pocket of intimacy, sadness, confusion, love and more from your personal life. Is it hard to put such personal content “out there” into the online world?
I feel like it’s getting a little harder the older I get and I find myself considering what I post online and what I keep to myself in a way that I never used to. I suppose I’m still trying to figure out a way to balance staying true and honest with my work while not necessarily sharing every detail of my personal experiences.
Other than through your artwork, how do you fuel yourself creatively?
I used to write a lot, and I still do, but I’m very erratic and now I just end up with a lot of scraps of paper on my desk with unfinished ramblings. Neither useful nor efficient. Nowadays I probably get most of my inspiration from going to other exhibitions - everything and anything from something at the MCA to a little local exhibition thrown in someones backyard. If I can see there’s passion behind the work, then I’m in.
You create extremely relatable content that correlates with the tumultuous lives of those in their twenties. How has your work changed as you’ve gotten older and do you think you’ll explore different themes as the years go by?
It’s definitely become less dramatic! When I first started making a lot of art at 17, I thought the breakup I was going through was the most devastating thing to ever happen, and was 100% convinced that I could not possibly live a good life after such a tragedy. Little did I know back then that it can get so much worse, but also so, so much better. Even though I’m still quite open in the work I produce, I think something I’ve realised is that it’s not really about what’s said in the work anymore, but more about what’s left unsaid.
As for themes of the future, I suppose it depends where life takes me. I’d like to try and create some more positive and uplifting work because I think it’s always important to try and balance darkness with light, but I’m not going to think too much on it and I’ll just see how the next few years pan out…
People often romanticise the life of an artist, thinking that you might sit around all day drinking tea and creating stuff, when in actual fact a lot of artists/creative types squeeze their practice around full-time jobs, study, family commitments etc. Could you ever imagine this being your full time gig?
I wish that was my life! Despite currently studying design at uni, I’m finding it really hard to find time to actually sit down and commit to creating something of my own that isn’t to do with uni or current assignments. I have to really force myself to just zone out of worrying about grades and schedules and all the other static that comes with living and just…make something.
Of course, in an ideal world, I would love this to be my full-time gig. However, I think I was born too much of a realist in that regard, so I suspect it’s more likely I’ll end up working full time for some sort of creative based company and then just find time to do my own thing on the side, but we’ll just have to see!
What’s your favourite thing that you’ve made?
This was such a hard decision, and it took a while, but I had to whittle it down to two significant pieces: a hoop and a painting. My favourite embroidery hoop is my ‘Watch Me Grow’ floral design because for me it really represents a point in time when my whole attitude towards making art shifted for the better and set me on the much more focused path that I’m on now. My other favourite is a little print I did about 2 years ago about a significant moment I had with someone very special. Even now, every time I see it I get a warm feeling in my chest when I remember what it meant to me, and I’ll always hold that particular piece close to me.
What’s the best way to get over a creative slump?
I’m a big advocate for switching up mediums. If you can’t write anymore, do a painting! If you can’t paint, make a short film! There’s always something out there you can experiment with and you’ll never know what hidden talents or passions you may have unless you try.
When do you feel the most inspired?
Late at night, by myself, normally between the hours of 10pm to 3am.
What are you currently working on?
I’ve recently got into making little clay ring dishes. I mould, bake, paint and then varnish them myself and I’m really enjoying the process so far. I’d really love to learn how to make proper fired ceramic items one day, but for now I’m pretty content just messing around with clay at home.
Where can people see more of your work?
I have a blog (which is now more of an artistic archive) at thepaperheartsociety.tumblr.com. I also have my main Instagram handle @ngrnwl where I post most regularly, as well as @thepaperheartsociety.