Framed Interview: A chat with illustrator Maddy Young
The Melbourne artist launches her exhibition, From Dust, this Friday.
Words by Nicola Mitchell.
Maddy Young is an artist originally from Brisbane, now living and creating in Melbourne. Her love for the natural world and gratitude for the mundane permeates through her fine lined illustrations. Her drawings of what is going on around her and in her mind are created with minimal use of colour. Maddy’s process is one of precision, with the final product often mounted under glass or collaged with another image in her sketch book.
We caught up with Maddy in her lovely studio to talk about her process, the work in her upcoming exhibition, From Dust, and what she would create if she had an unlimited budget.
Could you speak about how you got into drawing?
I’ve always drawn since I was a child - I began to take it more seriously when i was around 18, when I started to become more involved in the local art scene in Brisbane and it became apparent that art was something that you could make a living off. I was lucky to become friends with a few talented illustrators who showed me the ropes in many ways, and I undertook a few courses of study which allowed me the freedom to concentrate on my work and explore my style.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am currently working on pieces for my solo exhibition, and trying to put together a book of my sketchbooks from the last two years.
What kind of subject matter do you like to draw?
I am fascinated with complex flowers and plant life, and documenting small parts of the world around me (things like the fence at the front of my house, weeds growing on my walk to the corner store or the moon on a cloudless night).
You mostly draw with black pen on white - what attracts you to this aesthetic as opposed to colour based designs?
Black and white has always seemed cleaner and more simple to me - when I started drawing more seriously I decided to focus on technique and texture over colour theory (colour never really made much sense to me) I tend to shy away from colour generally in my life.
Where do you see yourself in a few years time - do you aspire to be a freelance illustrator, or would you consider tattooing?
I try not to think about the future in terms of definite paths - I want to paint murals, do commercial illustration, maintain a private arts practise and learn to tattoo. I don't want to be restricted by any one medium or definition of myself as an artist - I want to explore and master it all (i don't think i will ever be content to confine myself to anyone field).
What do you think of the Melbourne art scene and where it is going? Where does your art fit in with this?
I think the Melbourne art scene has an abundance of gifted young artists and illustrators who are finding their feet and exploring their creativity - I think its a really interesting time for the Melbourne art scene as I see so many people trying new things and taking chances, and more people are paying attention to what people are creating.
Could you talk about your process when creating a work for commission?
Regardless of the intended purpose of a work, I try and approach each piece the same. Usually I will try and spend some time slowly processing how I feel and think about what I am creating - I rarely start a piece without knowing exactly where I want to go with it, and what that will look like. I find I work quite quickly, so I try and sit and draw for blocks of time at once. If there is a small mistake or something isn't correct I will start again (often i will draw one picture 4 or 5 times until I am satisfied).
For someone looking to become a freelance illustrator, what advice would you give them?
I would say to practise, and be sure of every piece you put into the world. You don't need to share every piece of art you create, but every work the public sees should be well produced and documented. I think sometimes it is easy to feel like you need to rush things - I would say to have patience and keep steady.
Creatives are very inspiring. Is there someone you aspire to be and who inspires you?
I think the most inspiring artist I know is Georgia Hill - I'm lucky enough to be close enough to her to know a little about her process, and her dedication and devotion to her craft is constantly astounding to me. She inspires me both in terms of the work she creates, and the ease with which she works hard and fast - she takes on so much work and never fails to go and above and beyond what is expected of her. I hope one day I can be a tenth as hardworking as she is.
If you had an unlimited budget what would you create and why?
I want to explore more solid materials such as sheeted metals and marble - or I would love to learn to work with glass. If I could i would make stained glass windows and installation sculptural pieces.
Who are your top 5 instagram accounts to follow?
In terms of my top 5 favorite artists on instagram I would say @georgiahillbth @serahhelentattoo @tallulahfontaine @katerampling and @dk.gordon
Could you speak about the narrative behind the work in your upcoming show 'From Dust' at Outre gallery?
With these works I have tried to capture brief still moments in time, and highlight the soft and decorative harmony between the natural and manmade, placing the audience as the ever watching spectator. I wanted these works to be observational (as all life is) and to focus on transient things that are sometimes overlooked - I hope to convey feelings of stillness and solitude.
Maddy will be premiering From Dust at Outré Gallery, Friday September 9 at 6pm, as a part of the Small Wall Project.