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Meet Our June Artist: Ciara Johnson

Meet Our June Artist: Ciara Johnson

I am so excited to deep dive into one of my favorite humans that I am so luckily to have met on my path - Ciara Johnson. Her work is completely stunning, even before you realize she creates all of it without the use of a ruler or straight edge - aka Rulerless! You will find her work on our free pocket journals this month, as well as our order packaging and she even painted some unique mini canvases to include in your orders as well.

Meet Ciara ... 


What inspired you to create Rulerless & have you always had this talent to draw without a straight edge?

The interwoven line work really started in high school, I always found myself drawing these geometric shapes on the borders of all my homework. Then in my early twenties I created a few canvases that have since been lost to the past. But Rulerless really grew its roots when I was preparing for awake brain surgery in 2012. It was then that I became obsessed with creating my first two incredibly complicated dyptic canvases (shared right here below) and I haven’t stopped since.

I believe everyone has a talent, many talents. This talent has always lived within me, and throughout the last decade, with devotion and practice, the straight lines continue to improve. I like to think I’ve never given up on Rulerless, but the truth is, its never given up on me. This relationship continues to inspire me every day. I just can’t go the route of drawing with a straightedge, it takes away the entire meaning to me. I think when people see the work in person, they will understand the communication and relationship that really happens within.

What other styles or mediums of art do you like to create?

Honestly, I’ve never met a medium that I didn’t love! I explore and create with every type of medium I can get my hands on. Acrylic, watercolor, oil mediums and charcoal tend to be my main focus. But I have so many canvases, and journals filled with poetry (poetry is my first true love), sketch books filled with soft shapes of the female form, large format canvases that dig deeper with color theory and their play on emotions, but I always find myself having this desire to keep digging deeper and find the best ways to marry Rulerless with each aspect. But I am not limited to just straight lines. Lately I find myself wanting to create more emotionally driven monochromatic watercolor portraits of woman, I find myself skewing and distorting images into a type of visual poetry, and I really want to try sculpting and ceramics.

How do you balance life as a mom and a create art?

With the exception of this last year, I was a full-time working single mother and only found time to create during the hours between 9pm and 2am, non stop, and this is not a joke, I was barely getting any sleep! I’d repeat almost every day, waking up at 6am to do it all again. Even on days “off” if I was painting and drawing, I managed to make it work even if he was crawling all over me, needing my attention. He’s taught me so much patience and to have fun with it, and if schedules allow us, I tried to include him.

Life with my sweet little has gotten so much easier with time, as he’s much more self sufficient now and truly sees and understands me as his mother and an artist, a creator. and We’ve grown together and have such a special, respectful relationship, he’s my anchor and it drives me to show him to never give up on something you truly believe in, no matter what twists and turns or distractions that life can throw at you. I actually ask for his opinions often because I know he will be brutally honest with me.
This year it’s been really nice carving out my creative hours (from 11ish to dinnertime) that match the natural sunlight that shines through the windows. Its a whole new feeling not having to rely on spotlights to keep me going in the wee hours of the night anymore. And I do my best to take the day with grace, if I don’t complete as much as I hoped to, I won’t beat myself up about it anymore.

What dreams do you have for your artwork?

I have the biggest wildest dreams I’m conjuring up right now for Rulerless! It will always be my creation, a part of me, but its transforming and growing to something so much more than that, and I want it to be something that outlives my own lifetime.

I see it more as a state of mind, a way of living better for yourself, not so much the tug and pull and distraction of society and comparisons, but really being the master of your destiny and true to yourself. In one word, its all the things that so many of us are aiming for: to be Rulerless. And I want it to become something that is relatable and empowering, and I’m aiming to create even stronger roots in sustainability, sourcing and care for the right communities.
A major focus of mine right now can also be limited to one easy word, textiles! Its been something I’ve thought about since the early stages of Rulerless, and I can’t wait to share more with you. Please stay tuned!

What advice do you have for someone wanting to pursue being an artist?
I think we are all creators and artists at heart and we all have a natural talent, some better than others. But I think the magic really happens when you lean into your authenticity and create for yourself first, you'll find your own artistic voice and creation and see what sets you apart from the rest. You have to really dig deep within yourself and be vulnerable, consistent and devoted to your craft and make the time. Pablo Picasso has a great quote I remind myself of often when I sometimes feel at my lowest: “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working”. I hope any artist finds the inspiration they seek within.
Where did you grow up and where do you currently live?
I was born and raised in Southern California, Fountain Valley to be exact, and found myself moving around and living along all the coastal cities until I landed myself in Los Angeles over 15 years ago. There’s one thing that I can’t be too far away from, and its the ocean.
If you could go anywhere in the world right now where would you go?
I have felt a strong pull to Italy this last year, I’d go in a heartbeat if I could. I’ve even been re-learning Italian since the pandemic hit, and I’m obsessed with Pasta Grannies. I just want to go with my loves, and be there where I can paint, eat pasta, drink wine. Greece too. I’m craving the fresh aspect of throwing myself somewhere completely new, just a different space, a different coastline.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
I’ll be brutally honest here, sometimes I don’t want to. Sometimes I go too far into my anxiety or I have a depression bout and it takes hours to get me going. In the end, what gets me out of bed, is a real desire to not give up, a real desire to kick some doors open if I have to and prove to myself and others that I can do this. My son and some coffee certainly helps :)
What your favorite act of self care?
I see creating art as my self care now. Its not work, its taking care of myself, nurturing myself. But also, Rest! My goodness, rest was way too underrated in my earlier years, I cannot express enough about the importance of allowing yourself to rest, just be in the moment. Give yourself grace to just be, to feel, to smell, to hear. I allow myself to stop, and give into the moment. Especially when in good company. When I am with the people I love and adore, I try my best to just be with them, with no phones allowed. The people that I love need to know and see that I love them, and that’s an act of self care for me, not just a love language.
Any other words of wisdom that you live by?

I wrote these two for myself years ago...

“Some people produce things with a fast pace for favoritism and quick results. I produce like a slow pulsed work in progress that will outlive my own lifetime”

“Never let restrictions be your guide”
You can find her work at Rulerless.com and follow on instagram @ciarabella