July 6 2011 02:30 PM

The woman behind the positive message on the front page of this week's CityBeat

Janine Wareham's work is whimsical, comical, often cheery and always delightfully weird. “Yes,” the piece on CityBeat's cover this week, is a simple sketch that's part of a larger project.

“I'm chipping away at this little book about being a girl and being single and stuff,” said Wareham, who's actually married now and recently relocated from New Zealand to San Diego. “It's pretty silly—it's just lots of little words about being a woman. I don't know when that will be finished—September or something.”

Wareham is a lot like her work. She giggles a lot and seems to find humor in almost anything. She clearly doesn't take herself or her art too seriously. She just enjoys illustrating, and she loves the feeling of making art by hand instead of from behind a computer.

She uses watercolor, ink and, lately, a lot more acrylic paints. Every now and then, the words or sayings come first, then the accompanying illustrations. Other times, the characters appear on the page and Wareham will add text when the drawing is nearly done.

“Sometimes, I‘ll do a piece, and I'll say, “Oh my god, they're creepy and they're saying this,” Wareham said. “Or sometimes it can go the other way.”

Either way, she said, the drawings and the text always evolve naturally. She tries not to force anything and just let's her sense of humor and creativity guide the way.

“My work, it's kind of lowbrow, but it still matters I think,” Wareham said.

Wareham attributes her penchant for adding text to her work, plus her ability to keep things simple and clean, to her years doing ad design. Her work leans toward a mid-century aesthetic—most of the women in her drawings have beehives or other '60s-style hairdos—and her color palette is bright and girly.

But it's really her subject matter that sets her work apart. In one of Wareham's drawings, she pictures two boozed-up looking ladies eating strawberries and drinking champagne with the words “Sit up straight; we need to find you a husband” scrawled in her hand-drawn typography.

“I try to keep things light,” she laughs. “I don't want to be too deep about stuff, because there's enough grimness around I think.”

Janine Wareham's work will be on view in CityBeat's Cover Artist Pop-up Show opening from 7 to 11 p.m. Friday, July 8, at Queen Bee's Cultural Center in North Park. Click here for details.


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