Joy Smith’s softly coloured line drawings are inspired by queer identities

Joy Smith is a Cape Town based illustrator and photographer with a penchant for portraiture. Her illustrative practice revolves around the themes of identity and sexuality, “I’m very inspired by the LGBT community and my work is in many ways an exploration of LGBT life. I’m especially drawn to the beauty and power of transgender women and queer men. I view sexuality as the most powerful means of expression, which is why I find pornography so fascinating,” she explains.

Joy’s personal experiences pervade her subject matter, “I grew up on farms and surrounded by mountains, always very much in my own world. I saw myself as an adventurer. I was one of those girls who loved playing with her action figures instead of Barbies; I preferred to wear pants instead of dresses, and insisted to everyone I was a boy and often had to convince other boys that I was a boy too. I felt very restricted by my conservative Christian household and at the age of 15 I moved to the city and started my artistic career as a photographer. Only later did I start to take my illustration work seriously.”  

Her artworks are well-observed, she takes time to explore the personal interiors of each of her chosen subjects, “I try to always photograph subjects myself and then illustrate them. I spend a large amount of my time searching for subjects, sitting with them, getting to know them, and taking their photo, which will later become a drawing,” she describes of her process. Haphazard ink lines and backgrounds of loose gouache characterize her expressive style, which she achieves through a mix of pen on paper and Photoshop techniques. 

View her intimate illustrated portraits below and see more of her portfolio on Instagram



Joy Smith

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