By Danae Reid
Art is another form of communication, for both the creator and the consumer. We live at a time and in a country that speaks to the importance of individuality, yet anyone who doesn’t fit the “norm” is still considered an outlier. Censoring the artist is no new feat, but it seems that social media only amplifies the discrepancy between what is too much and what is not enough. Philadelphia’s own Joy Bernal, a creative who strives to help others realize their full potential, noticed the conflicts that other creatives were experiencing and decided that she wanted to do something about it.
SUN: Tell us a little bit about your brand, Bawdy LLC. How did it get started? What was the inspiration behind it?
JOY BERNAL: As an artist of various mediums, I was often told that I needed to choose one craft to pursue. Bawdy started as a way for me to combine my love for photography, wardrobe styling, graphic design, and creative direction to communicate the things I had difficulty expressing with words. It developed into a company that not only allows me to provide creative services to a wide range of clientele, it’s become a way for me to help and encourage others, artist or not, to pursue whatever it is they are passionate about.
SUN: It seems that your aim is artistic freedom. Do you find that censorship, even in a country that “promotes” freedom of speech, is still prevalent specifically in regards to the arts? If so, how or why? If not, explain why.
JOY BERNAL: I believe in some ways art is still censored. We live in a time where anything you say or do can be easily misconstrued or criticized negatively, and I think that prevents a lot of people from creating the things they want to create. In a very social media driven world, it’s easy to have your work and your words picked apart. I think there are plenty of artists hesitant to create a piece or pursue a project because of the backlash they may receive. I’ve seen artists criticized for “controversial” pieces, and others who are praised for it. There have been plenty of ideas shut down for being too PC, too personal, too general, “too” whatever. It becomes discouraging.
I describe Bawdy as “A World of Creative Freedom” because I consider it to be a space for me to create as I please. The phrase is meant to encourage others to pursue their own “world” to create and express without judgement. Everyone has something worth expressing, whether it’s for themselves or to shed light on a subject others may not be aware of. Whether you agree with their work or not, I don’t think it’s fair to hinder that.
SUN: Follow up question; do you think being an artist of color forces you to be more passionate about the work that you’re doing, i.e helping other creatives see the importance of creating honest, genuine, and vulnerable work? Why or why not?
JOY BERNAL: Absolutely. My work and drive as an artist and a businesswoman stems from my experiences as a woman of color. Our experiences influence who we are and it only makes sense that our work reflects that. I think it’s easy for people to see what is or isn’t genuine. As an artist of color, I feel it’s my responsibility to set an example for those that resonate with me. I represent every brown girl that has ever hated the skin she was in, doubted her work, and was blind to her potential. My success now and in the future is not only for me, but for anyone that has ever been impacted and inspired by my work.
SUN: Your website states that you “Strive to help individuals learn and achieve success through their craft”– how do you do this?
JOY BERNAL: We want to help artists and entrepreneurs pursue their passions. Bawdy provides a space for artists to create freely by showcasing their talents on the Bawdy Series, or by working with clients to bring their vision to life. We take a hands-on approach with all projects whether it’s shooting product photography for an entrepreneur’s start-up, helping a model build their portfolio, or working with a company to design their next campaign.
SUN: I believe that any art that’s good has a story — or many stories — behind it, even if the artist or the consumer isn’t necessarily sure of what it might be. How difficult is it for you as an artist to dig inside yourself to give your pieces meaning? And furthermore, how difficult is it to pull that out of another artist?
JOY BERNAL: I consider art to be my best method of communication, which makes my work easier to visualize. Most of my projects are built from a general concept, usually based on my own thoughts and experiences. From planning to production to post-production, I start to incorporate the details to represent something significant, whether it’s the color scheme, the angle a photo was taken, or how I end up editing the image. I’ve had some pieces develop their own concept throughout its creation. I think every artist has their own methods of storytelling and their own ways of finding inspiration. The more an artist understands their purpose or intention, the easier it is to create. The best pieces come naturally.
SUN: Like the name, you have a series entitled “Bawdy” that captures compromising subject matter in an unorthodox fashion; explain what this means. Also, we see that each season, as you call them, focuses on a number of chapters; tell us more about this.
JOY BERNAL: The Bawdy Series is the foundation of Bawdy LLC. The series not only showcases what we can do artistically, but it tells the story of who we are and where we come from. Each chapter represents a thought, emotion, or experience that can be challenging to explain with words, or it can represent difficult topics to discuss. Similar to how each season is broken down into different chapters, the production is broken down into several layers. Within each chapter, we find models that resonate with its concept, models with their own stories to express. From there we consider the wardrobe, setting, hair and makeup, and how we can showcase these details in a way that communicates the concept clearly to the audience. The series also creates a community for us to collaborate with other artists, providing everyone with a place to contribute their talents and tell their own stories.
For more information about Bawdy LLC, follow them on Instagram at: @bybawdy.