One of student artist Joy Johnson’s (BFA 2023) pieces on Instagram.
Joy Johnson is a comic artist, devoted My Chemical Romance (MCR) fan, and a first-year student in the Department of Art & Design’s BFA in Visual Arts program.
She also has more than 58,000 followers on Instagram (@happy_humbug76). Johnson was anointed an #MCRtist on Instagram after she gained traction online for her posted drawings of members of the Newark, New Jersey, rock band. She’s also co-author of an MCR fan comic called DeathWish.
“Since I was about 7, I’ve always liked drawing vampires, ghosts, zombies, and kind of deathly-looking people,” Johnson says. “When I looked at photos of MCR for the first time, I was psyched that I’d come across a band whose look matched my drawing interests so perfectly and in such an aesthetically pleasing way.”
Johnson understands that her work trades in a relatively macabre aesthetic. Nonetheless, she says she hopes that her art, however brooding, serves as a source of, well, joy for her followers.
“My account sits in a corner of Instagram where a lot of people are experiencing mental illnesses and going through rough parts of their lives,” she says. “More than anything, I want to make them happy.”
No doubt: Johnson says creating work that tends to elicit immediate—and generally positive—responses can be gratifying.
“I suppose I feel kind of spoiled,” she says. “I get to share my art and receive instant feedback from a lot of people, which I think is a huge part of the appeal of having a following on social media for artists, on a surface level.”
But Johnson insists that for her, Instagram’s appeal runs deeper than tallying likes. She says the platform has allowed her to share ideas and forge a kinship with people she’ll likely never even meet.
“I’ve found that I have an impact on quite a few of my followers—inspiring them to start drawing, get back into it, try comics, etc.—which always makes me incredibly happy,” she says.
“It makes me feel a sense of responsibility, and maybe also a need to be cautious,” Johnson adds. “I don’t want to negatively influence anyone, offend anyone, disrespect anyone. I try to keep what I say positive and, if the subject of my art is negative, explore it in a way that’s healthy.”