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Visual artist Joy Johnson boasts more than 58,000 Instagram followers

Visual artist Joy Johnson boasts more than 58,000 Instagram followers

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.”