MJ Kocovski is an American artist based in northern Indiana, US, and her illustrated quote (find more on our quote-page) caught our editor-in-chief Irene’s eye on Instagram a few weeks back. ‘Hang out with people who make you forget to check your phone’: Yup, that certainly struck a chord with us, and even made Irene realize that, “Everyone I get together with is interesting enough to make me forget about my phone. But I’ve become so programed to always wanting to have a sneaky peek at the blasted thing.” You can read more about Irene’s struggle with this desire on her ‘Offline is the new luxury’ blog. And below, you can read more about MJ as she tells us about the piece, her work, what inspires her and what she’s up to right now.
What inspired you to create this particular piece of work?
Words become images in my head. I’m a graphic designer (by training) and a doodler, and my style of word art has come from that marriage. While sightseeing in New York City once, I was struck by how many people were looking down at their phones rather than the incredible monuments, art pieces and architecture around us. On the flipside, I also noticed how rarely I picked up my own phone when in the company of my husband and a couple of good friends on that trip. When I returned home, I was shocked that most of our trip was ‘undocumented’ and yet I felt so refreshed and warmed by the entire time spent together. I want to have more of those life moments where I’m so engaged with the present moment and the people around me that I forget to be distracted.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and the work that you do?
I’m an artist (it took me a few decades to own that word). Four years ago, I founded my small business Pars Caeli (Latin for ‘piece of heaven’), that consists of a branded apparel and paper store, a freelance graphic design business, and project-based blog. I work from my home-based studio with my dog at my side, and you can find me most days designing a new product for my brand, Good in Store, developing a fresh logo for a small company or illustrating a pattern for a fresh fabric design.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I’m an extroverted introvert. I thrive on collaborations—talking, brainstorming, bouncing ideas around—so I often pull people together to think through ideas. I call friends and mentors, and I schedule weekly Google chats with people who know much more than I do. My family is a consistent source of inspiration, too, and really tuning into their lives matters a great deal to me. I also need quiet and space so I’m often inspired during a yoga session or a very hot shower. Inspiration has a way of finding me if I can clear out all the other mess.
What would you say is typical about your work?
I have an activism vein that flows gently into all my work—kindness as a rebellion against all the ills of the world. Strong and powerful words (sometimes in the form of jokes) always seem to find their way into my designs and illustrations.
Do you have a fun tidbit to share about yourself?
Hmm… As a child, I’d lay on the floor and draw, and my best work still happens that way. I work mostly from an outdoor chaise lounge that we use indoors so I can lay flat in front of my laptop or sketchbook.