In one of the recent rounds of the Natural Foundation Yoga challenge, we were delighted and honored to have as one of our sponsors the amazing Marie Jørgensen, also known as artbymajor_yogaprints on Instagram.
Marie’s work caught my attention right away for its brightness, honesty, variety, depth and character. The theme of her posts on Instagram is clothes free yoga, and her subjects depict a wide range of people.
I love the joy and strength of her work, all beautifully articulated. I was also lucky enough to be honored by her work when she chose me as a subject, too. The spirit of her work is bright and uplifting , so of course I had to grab an interview with her and spread the word to all of you. Enjoy her share!
When did you start studying and/or doing art?
I have been drawing ever since I was a kid and I just never stopped. I actually knew very early on that I wanted to work with something creative. I remember watching Disney´s Aladdin in the cinema for the first time and the Genie character was so hilarious to me. From then on I had a dream about making animation when I grew up.
So after high school and a couple of years of working and traveling around I applied to an animation school in Denmark called “The Animation Workshop” and I was lucky to be accepted in their 3 1/2 year Character Animation program. I started studying there in 2005 and graduated in January 2009.
What types of art do you do?
Up until now I have mostly done animation related art work. Since I graduated I have specialized in creating and designing environments for animation films and theater. So I basically get an assignment from an animation production company to come up with the look for an animation film in collaboration with the director and perhaps other designers on the team. I draw in different styles, find the right moods and colors and so on until the look of the film is set. And from there I draw all the backgrounds and props with which the characters interact in the film.
I’ve also done a lot of digital scenography for theater plays – and Disney musicals actually. In those cases I made the digital backdrops, animation and effects for huge LED screens that were a big part of part of the show.
In my professional work I almost only draw on the computer using a drawing board and Photoshop. However, when I have done that for longer periods I really miss working with real materials by hand.
How did you become interested in doing clothes free yoga art?
Hmm I’m not quite sure. Well, I started making tiny drawings/ paintings of clothes free yogis at a time when I really needed a break from my life as a freelancer. I loved my job, no doubt about it, but I was kind of burned out from too much work with constant pressure to work fast and “deliver.” I felt that my life was just deadlines and I had no breaks to breathe. So, I decided to take a break from it all. I was lucky to have a little bit of savings from my previous work so that I could take some time to relax, do more yoga – and work on my own ideas at my own pace.
I have practiced yoga for more than 13 years. Yoga has always helped me find my space in this sometimes very fast, confusing and speedy world. And doing yoga has also helped me slowly accept my body and the ways it looks and feels in different poses.
The yogis I drew where naked from the beginning. I’m not quite sure why, it wasn’t something I thought about; it just didn’t make sense to put clothes on them. I find them much more beautiful, simple and honest when they are clothes free.
I have also become very aware that I don’t want to contribute to the idea of how a beautiful body should look like. I think it is so sad to only see one kind of body type represented in media – and also very much in big parts of the yoga community.
What inspires you to create your clothes free yoga art pieces?
Doing yoga (obviously 😉 ) but feminist- and body positive movements are huge sources of inspirations as well. It’s important for me to draw yogis with “real” bodies in all sizes, colors and genders that are not restricted by body image, trends, or stereotypical ideas of what’s accepted or beautiful.
What is important to you when you create your art?
It sounds corny, but it’s important to me that it comes from the heart, that I don’t censor myself and that I only draw because I feel like it.
What is it you hope people will feel and gain from your work?
If my drawings can put a smile on someone’s face and make them recognize a piece of themselves in of my work, then I feel very lucky as an artist.
What do you use to create your work? Images from people? Live sessions?
The materials I use are pencil, thick water color paper and water color.
Sometimes I have a specific pose in mind that I want to draw and so I often use Google to find reference photos with clear silhouettes of poses. And then I just apply the character from my imagination to that pose.
But many times I just draw straight from my imagination without photos or reference of any kind.
When I started using Instagram (IG) a whole new world of inspiration opened up! The IG yoga community is huge, and I just love that there is so much diversity in the people doing yoga and sharing their practice with the world. So sometimes I find a gallery or a specific photo on IG that is so inspiring that I make a drawing from that photo. And one of my absolute favorite accounts for inspiration is your account. I admire your honesty and the powerful photos of you doing clothes free yoga.
I never tried drawing yoga from live sessions, but it’s something that would be amazing to do. I have been to many croquis sessions, but it would be great to draw in a croquis class with a naked person doing yoga poses.
Do you practice yoga? If so, what styles and how has yoga had a positive impact on you?
Yes I practice yoga as often as I can. I feel best when I can do it every day, but sometimes that’s just not an option for me. I practice Vinyasa flow yoga and classic Hatha yoga. The last couple of years I have fallen in love with restorative yoga. When I was younger I really couldn’t see the point in slow and relaxing yoga, it was all about action, getting stronger, more flexible and doing the fancy, acrobatic stuff. That’s not really my thing any longer, I appreciate body work, but the important thing is the mental and emotional state the body work helps me get to. Yoga has a tremendous positive effect on me and my ability to be present and compassionate with myself – and most importantly with the people around me.
I know, right? You’re in love with Marie and her story just like me. So, you can find Marie and her work here: