The artist, curator, art director, author and creative polymath reflects on The Slow Grind: Practising Hope and Imagination, the second iteration of her perspective-shifting anthology.

The Slow Grind is an apt name for not just Georgina Johnson’s books – an amalgamation of essays, think pieces and conversations from educators and activists to CEOs and beekeepers – but the general approach to her work: an approach cultivated over time and shaped by her experiences within the creative industry. Johnson’s creative career saw its genesis in the capital where she studied Womenswear and Pattern Cutting at London College of Fashion, earning a first class degree in the practice. Now, having found her own personal corner of like-minded collaborators globally, Johnson is firmly footed and rooted.


In a landscape where creativity often feels constrained by commercial pressures and industry norms, the artist and futurist continues her life’s work of navigating the intersections of fashion, creative practice, environmentalism, social justice and mental health – actively working to reframe the structure of the industry.

Remaining central to her approach is a commitment to diversity and inclusivity. Johnson actively curates a diverse range of voices and perspectives, ensuring representation of marginalised communities – an ethos which extends beyond the pages of her book and also influences her career holistically. “I know some people say it’s not good to purposefully think about diversity, but I think if you don’t, [you’re sure to] have blind spots. So I do think about how many people of color in my projects, how many women, how many queer people…I do purposefully go out of my way to ensure [this].”


Regarding collaborating with writers and creatives for her new book, The Slow Grind: Practising Hope and Imagination – the follow-up to 2020’s The Slow Grind: Finding Our Way Back to Creative Balance, Johnson describes the process as having unfurled organically, whether through conversation or just reaching out to writers whose work had previously sparked her interest, prioritising working with people she enjoys who have weighty ideas, rather than just popular ones. “That’s really my only method.”


In its second iteration, The Slow Grind takes on what Johnson describes as a more “mature” form compared to its predecessor. “It’s an evolution for sure…it’s a lot more sophisticated, and the way it’s been executed as well is way more sleek. […] I’m a lot more comfortable in this mode of communication now that I’ve done it once already.”


The curator’s experience with dyslexia also informs the book’s visual elements, using colorful annotations to enhance accessibility for all readers – many of whom, like Johnson herself, face hurdles to finding written content that both resonates with them.


Both books exist solely in print, yet still, The Slow Grind has garnered global acclaim, resonating with readers worldwide. Finding joy in the impact of her independently published works, appreciating the beauty of creating without the constraints of a traditional publisher, Johnson describes how “it’s really beautiful to know that something that I have made independently without the help of a publisher has made its way across the world.” This most recent release will be the second in a series of three. And her decision to stick to a trilogy format? “All the best things come in threes”.


Currently, Johnson is in an era of perpetual growth. Asserting that it is important for her work to do the same, she emphasises actively avoiding “[to start] and end in the same place.” Embodying her multifaceted roles as both a solo independent publisher and creative polymath, Georgina embodies the concept of The Slow Grind, championing the importance of taking breaks and finding joy amid impactful work. Her aim for The Slow Grind in all its iterations would be for them to continue to adopt a life and legacy of their own: “I want to see it cited in policy. I want to see it cited as something that a conglomerate uses to change the way that it works – all the way down.”


Reflecting on her journey, Johnson acknowledges the pressure to achieve everything at once – a struggle familiar to many creatives. However, she embraces a mindset of “[changing] your perspective to ‘I get to do the things that I want to do and try them’”, reframing the outlook on interdisciplinary work and finding comfort in failure and growth. Looking to the future, Johnson plans to branch out and explore new publishing avenues, collaborating with other artists and embracing new mediums – in a true polymathic fashion.


The Slow Grind: Practising Hope and Imagination is available here.