Retrofuturism: Danika Watson discusses sci-fi artwork

Queen’s artist sits down with The Journal

Watson’s ‘Home away from Home.’ 
Credit: 
Danika Watson

Danika Watson, ArtSci ’21, integrates her passion for science and chemistry into her artistic practices.

Recently featured as one of the finalists for the Undergraduate Review’s cover art contest, Watson’s artwork has an otherworldly, cosmic feel to it—engaging spectators on and offline.

“A lot of my art has a sci-fi feel to it,” Watson said in a statement to The Journal. “I’ve always been inspired by outer space and astrophysics, and this comes across a lot in my work.”

Watson has been interested in art since she was a child but was torn between studying art or science in post-secondary education.

“I’ve always enjoyed drawing and painting,” Watson wrote.

“I attended a couple art-focused summer camps as a kid, and art was always my favourite subject in school. Although I ended up in science, I still enjoy creating art in my spare time, and I think that studying science has inspired my art a lot over the years.”

Watson’s piece ‘Home away from Home,’ which was featured in the Undergraduate Review, depicts a woman staring out of her window at Earth and the vast galaxy in front of her. 

“It was inspired by a couple of books by physicists I was reading at the time,” Watson said.

“They got me thinking about what the future might look like for humans as an interstellar species. For this piece, I had a concept in mind that humanity had left a now-uninhabitable Earth for the last time, in search of a new planet to call home.”

Watson said she’s also deeply inspired by retrofuturism artists from the 1940s-70s. The retrofuturism movement is primarily concerned with depictions of the future created in the past, where the “retro” depictions are contrasted with the “futuristic” ideals.

“Because of the time period, I find that there’s a unique quality to these pieces,” Watson wrote. “It’s interesting to see the contrast between these artists’ concepts of the future and the reality of today’s technology.”

She also follows the work of retrofuturism Instagram accounts including @retroscifiart and @the.futurism.

Watson characterized her process as “pretty disorganized.”

“I’m not one to sketch things out much before starting a painting,” wrote Watson. “I’ll either start with a rough five-minute sketch, or I’ll just dive in with paint and make changes as I go.”

Though she wouldn’t describe herself as highly involved in the artistic community at Queen’s, Watson is excited by the work being shared by fellow artists.

“I’ve recently discovered a couple of talented Queen’s artists on Instagram through the [Undergraduate Review] cover contest, and it’s been super cool checking out their work.”

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