Senior Baker makes her mark on art world

Baker created this piece entitled “Circuit” last year using acrylic paint on ceramic tile.

Samantha Huray

Senior Joanna Baker has a serious talent for art. 
Baker won first place for impromptu art in the Georgia Junior Classical League State Convention, was the winner of the APS Fine Arts Logo Design Contest and has won numerous other art awards. 
“I’ve been making art for as long as I can remember,” Baker said. “I was a very visually-inclined child; I was also drawing and making little sketches.” 
At the age 6, Baker’s parents enrolled her in summer camp at Redwall Studio, where she learned how to paint, draw and create pottery. 
“That’s when I really started getting into art,” Baker said. “It was a very big part of my development as an artist and what took me from making random drawings to actually making art,” Baker said. “Eventually, I started teaching some of the classes myself. It was really fun because I was using some of the exact same lessons that I had learned as a kid.”
In middle school, Baker started to tap into a hyper-realistic artistic phase, with a focus on developing her technical skills by drawing and painting art already created.  
“I don’t regret the time I spent copying other people’s work,” Baker said. “It gave me a strong foundation for applying my own ideas to art.” 
In AP Studio Art, Baker started to explore surrealism and made a transition as an artist, vowing to ensure all of her pieces were entirely original. 
“In my identity as an artist, that was a big transition that I had to grapple with. For most of my life, I was copying from pictures and focused on making pretty images, but there was not a lot of creativity behind them,” Baker said. “Around sophomore year, I realized that I didn’t have a lot of art that was truly unique to myself. I had technical skill, but there was no conceptual backing behind it.” 
This year, Baker’s portfolio project for AP Art intensified this transition. She used one of her favorite inspirations: song lyrics, focused on typography and reimagined “The Beatles” albums using only text. 
“Those are the pieces I feel the most proud of, that I’m the most attached to because they are entirely my own,” Baker said. “Art became less of a pastime and more of an identity.” 
Throughout high school, Baker also worked on commissioned pieces for other students. She and Grady alum Sage Bader painted senior Cooper Carlson’s Vans sneakers in January, transforming the dull pair of black shoes into a work of art. 
“I’d gotten a pair of black vans for Christmas, and they looked a lot worse in person than in the pictures,” Carlson said. “At the time, there were a lot of posts online that showed some pretty sick painted shoes;so, I thought it was worth a shot to reach out to Joanna and see what she could do.” 
Baker and Bader were given free artistic rein to design the shoes. 
“I love the shoes,” Carlson said. “I still wear them pretty reguraily around the house or on dry enough days. They were well worth what I paid, and I’m thankful towards Joanna and Sage for taking my commission.That being said, anyone looking to do something similar to what I did should keep in mind that good art is not cheap;so, don’t complain when it costs more than five dollars to paint your shoes.” 
After hearing about Carlson’s painted Vans, senior Diego Attra commissioned Baker to paint his guitar. 
“I let her know what I wanted ? something similar to Cooper’s shoes, something minimalistic and abstract. From there, she asked me if I wanted any specific imagery, and I told her flowers and celestial objects would be cool,” Attra said. “I knew it would have been her first time painting a guitar, but it turned out really well. I’m really happy with the result!”
Recently, Baker sold her piece “Life on Mars,” a five feet-wide, textural piece, to LowCountry Steak restaurant on West Peachtree Street.
“The art business world is not something I fully understand yet,” Baker said. “A lot of it is where you sold prior pieces and for how much; so, this was a stepping stone for selling my future work.”
Baker is planning to attend Stanford University in the fall, where she will be majoring in biology. She relates her passions in art to her passions in biology. 
“People think of visual arts and stem as two totally separate disciplines,” Baker said. “The part of my brain that I use to make art, I think, is actually very similar to the part of my brain that attracts me to science. There is so much overlap between being creative and science. The part of biology that I love the most is how intricate and incredible life in the world is almost artistic.”
Baker’s website,, showcases her art for everyone to see. You can find information about commissions as well as some items to purchase, such as prints and masks.