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April 25, 2018

GIRL WONDER

Meet Yasmina Johnston: Artist, designer—and yes—Muay Thai fighter

She’s one of Dallas’ most dynamic creatives. And refreshingly, Yasmina Johnston is also one of its nicest. For as far back as she can remember, Johnston has felt a burning sensation deep in her chest. She has a name (and hashtag) for it: #burningheart. “I feel it every day,” she says. “It pushes me. If I don’t get it out, I’m not fulfilling my purpose.” Though the fire can’t be extinguished, it can be expressed through Johnston’s creativity.

Fortunately, it’s her job to create. As a visual artist for Traffic LA, the 31-year-old is responsible for bringing the boutique’s windows to life. She takes a storytelling approach, crafting displays that compel passersby to stop, look, and think. Merchandise blends seamlessly into each scene—a supporting character to the visual narrative.

But mannequins are only one form of Johnston’s expression. The multidisciplinary artist also paints largescale abstracts that have put her on the radar of Dallas collectors, and designs sculptural clothing that reflect her degree from the London College of Fashion.

Johnston takes a “couture approach” to design, focusing on craftsmanship. (A few of her pieces can be purchased at Traffic LA—but act fast.) “It takes time,” she says. “There’s a lot of hand sewing and experimenting with silhouettes.” In contrast to the chaotic nature of her paintings, Johnston’s garments are structured silhouettes. She counts the tech-savvy Dutch designer Iris van Herpen among her foremost inspirations. But truly, she finds inspiration everywhere. Music, books, and even her Muay Thai boxing practices are wellsprings of creative fodder. Underneath a chic wrap-around jacket—a recent vintage score—paired back to Chloé trousers, Johnston wears a Jiu-Jitsu rash guard. Her body is sore and bruised from a recent workout. “It unleashes something in me,” she says. “I like feeling my body sore. It makes you feel human.”

Petite, soft spoken, and gracious, Johnston seems an unlikely candidate for a martial arts fighter. But she’s not one to be put in a box. “It’s all about expression,” she says. “I can’t tell you what my message is. But, whether it’s through art, fashion, or Muay Thai, I always have something to say.” —Nicole Jordan 

The Details: To see more of Johnston’s art, follow @yasminaj on Instagram. Shop her pieces at Traffic LA at The Joule, 1608 Main Street.