Staying True to Yourself with Marissa Johnson


Papirmass artist Marissa Johnson

Detroit artist Marissa Johnson brings her tranquil depictions of the natural world to the next issue of Papirmass! Her calm illustrations beautifully employ pattern and maps to zero our focus in on elements of the natural world that are easily overlooked. She finds much of her inspiration in the local landscapes of Michigan state, where she spends her free time biking, hiking, and exploring.

To get a surprise print from Marissa, sign up by June 30th.

Hi Marissa! Tell us about your Papirmass print (not pictured).

This piece, titled Bloom, was inspired by the cycles of nature, the forces of death and renewal.

Papirmass artist Marissa Johnson

Describe your creative process.

I usually start by scribbling ideas in a sketchbook. I don’t worry about it looking nice to start out with, as it’s mainly just about getting ideas down on paper. I refine as I go, working on various thumbnail compositions before making my final sketch. Then, I use ink on marker paper and make different textures to scan into Photoshop which I use to create the final piece.

What routines help you get in the zone?

Doing yoga in the morning or going for a walk helps me get started with a project or unfreeze when I’m feeling stuck. We have a great art museum in Detroit, so I like to go there to find inspiration.

Papirmass artist Marissa Johnson Studio Space

Where do you make your work?

My studio space is my bedroom in my apartment! It is full of natural light and a collection of house plants. I love the convenience of having everything in one place and not having to travel far to get to my desk.

What do you hope to do with your work?

I love bringing attention to the importance of preserving our environment and natural world.

Papirmass artist Marissa Johnson

What is your favourite place in the world?

My favorite landscape is the Sleeping Bear Dunes in northern Michigan.

What have been your biggest career challenges?

I consider myself to still be at the start of my career, and the most challenging part for me is self-promotion. I also find all of the administrative tasks, like invoices and contracts, to be a bit daunting.

Papirmass Artist Marissa Johnson

What does it take to make original work today?

Everyone is unique and comes to the table with a different point of view, so I think that just by staying true to yourself and what you’re interested in will always yield new and interesting artwork.

Marissa Johnson is our July 2018 artist.
See more at