It’s official, dear readers: Year 13 has begun! We’re starting out on the right foot with Issue 049, containing 18 speculative fiction stories by emerging women authors. Is there anything better than a hefty issue of LSQ? You can get your hands on a print or digital copy of your very own, or read it right here on the site.
This issue’s cover art is brought to you by independent artist Caroline Jamhour! We asked her all about her artistic process and inspirations, and we’re sharing her answers with you below:
LSQ: Please tell us about the cover image “Germination.” Is there a story behind this image? What was your thought process while creating this image?
Caroline: Usually, my paintings begin with a certain idea, a feeling or a spark of inspiration, but the development of it happens throughout the process. I let the artwork guide me on what it wants to be, each step leading me to the next.
“Germination” feels very introspective and quiet to me, and it tells me a story about an inner ecosystem, in which our feelings take part in the nourishing and growth of our being. There is an ambiguity in which what seems to be dark tears falling from her eyes are actually the stems of plants, with roots inside her body.
The idea to add the green sprouts growing from her body came up almost as a natural consequence. I believe if we allow our feelings to flow freely within our being, our inner life and creativity can flourish, like tree sap nourishes the whole tree. Nature is a great source of inspiration to contemplate on the cycles and processes of our own lives.
LSQ: You have an interest in the symbolic language of fairy tales. Why does this in particular call to you?
Caroline: One of the things that I like the most about fairy tales is how they function outside of
logic, and therefore allow an openness, an exploration of possibilities. Symbols are always something bigger than themselves, they can be an invitation to go beyond appearances and find different meanings and connections.
We are all storytellers: we have our ways of seeing things and telling our own stories about who we are. And I think imagination has a redemptive quality, since the way you see your story can transform your whole experience, and you need imagination to conceive different ways of seeing. You can find wisdom and meaning in hidden places, courage and joy where there seemed to be none. In fairy tales, things often are not be what they seem, and miracles happen without question.
But to see what’s hidden, you need to be able to see beyond the obvious, to have a creative, imaginative capacity, which the language of fairy tales can inspire.
LSQ: When and how did you begin your journey as an artist?
Caroline: I have been drawing since I was a kid. I think most kids like to draw, but many stop after they grow up. I have never stopped. I always loved to create, to give material existence to my feelings and ideas, and it doesn’t really feel like a choice, but a vital impulse. However, it took me a long time to actually see myself as an artist. It can feel like such an elusive thing, specially in a world where the role of the artist seems suppressed and uncertain. So I strive to create my own place.
LSQ: What is your favorite medium to work with? Do you prefer digital over traditional, or vice versa? What are the pros and cons to both?
Caroline: I like both traditional and digital, it really depends on what I want to do, or how I’m feeling.
I love the versatility of digital media, and there’s also something practical and clean about it. It also allows for more control.
But I also love the physicality of traditional media, how you create something unique, and how every material has its own personality.
However, I feel traditional media has a feature that I find very valuable, and that isn’t replaceable by digital, which is sensorial. Sometimes, when I’m working with digital media for too long, I yearn for creating a physical thing, something I can touch, something with a presence.
I don’t think either of them can replace the other and each has their own value and place.
LSQ: Do you have a personal favorite of the projects you’ve worked on? Or one that was memorable due to its challenges? If so, can you tell us a bit about it?
Caroline: There was a yearly challenge for artists in which we had to create an ink drawing everyday throughout October, of which I participated a few times. I never made it to the end of the month, but every time I participated, I created some pieces that I really liked. I allowed myself to experiment in ways I usually don’t. And since I was supposed to create an artwork a day, I couldn’t overthink it. So I came up with ideas quite spontaneously, and allowed for creativity to flow unobstructed. For some reason, that is often difficult for me to do in normal conditions, because of self-imposed constraints. So I think there is a lesson for me there, about simply allowing myself to create.
I have some pieces that personally speak to me more than others. Art-making involves a lot of experimenting and self-discovery, and I’m always trying to find my voice, a sort of sweet spot. I try to identify in my favorite pieces what are the elements that I relate to more strongly, what I want to keep doing. It might not be something fixed, but more like a constant call that I follow.