Framed: Madi Oma (Beetletooth)

Framed: Madi Oma (Beetletooth)

We’d like you to meet up-and-coming artist, Madi Oma AKA Beetletooth.

Madi Oma is a Perth expatriate currently living in Sydney. Her work is powerfully bold and highly stylised with no shortage of colour, incorporating fluid lines and natural details. Working under the name Beetletooth, Oma’s illustrations deal with emotive subjects portrayed through abstracted versions of the human form. We had a little chat to her about Perth, the conceptual themes behind her work, and making it as an artist.

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Hi Madi, tell us a bit about yourself!

Hello! I’m a Perth-bred wombat who crossed the Nullarbor on all fours with aspirations of working as an artist in the big smoke. So far so good!

How does Sydney differ from Perth in terms of the arts?

Perth has it’s own, wonderfully unique art scene that talent regularly oozes out from, constantly thriving like a petri dish. I think there’s a lot more competition in Sydney, simply given the larger population and scale of the city itself. It’s a good kind of competition though, the kind that shines a big light on your own capacity and potential so you see more, build networks, create a petri dish that maybe got knocked over? That’s a terrible metaphor but you see what I’m getting at. I’ve met a lot of incredible people (from all corners of the arts) over the last six months while living here. I’ll leave it at that.

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Your work has a distinctive style, is it naturally emerging or something intentional?

A bit of both I guess. I’ve definitely developed a style over time as I’ve gotten to know my creative practice and built skills in different mediums, but even flicking back through sketchbooks from 2003 there are elements of illustration that just seem to have stuck around. I miss 2003. What ever happened to scented gel pens?

Scented gel pens were the best! You mention your style has changed over time, do you have any particular influences?

Couples breaking up in public, the work of Akira Yamaguchi, Mark Ryden, Moonassi, Chris Mars, and my partner in crime.

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I love Ryden and Moonassi. Talk us through your usual process of creating a piece?

It tends to begin with a feeling being translated into words. That kind of becomes the scaffolding, and then I build a visual around that. In a way I’m just illustrating an emotionally narcissistic narrative, ha! Once the words are removed, though, other people can take what they want from it.

Are there any ideas and themes you like to explore, both visually and conceptually?

Sex, hedonism, gender (or lack of), the power of the heart over the mind, altered states of consciousness, longing, lust and all the deep-soul sad stuff in between.

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Speaking of deep-soul sad stuff, what do you feel are some of the struggles of being a young artist today? Particularly in Australia where we've recently seen funding cuts to the arts. Is it difficult to make a career out of?

Oh man, as if pursuing a career in the arts isn’t already like shooting yourself in the foot, now they’re chopping off our legs for us! Artists are innovators, generators, lateral thinkers, and when able to create freely, capable of communicating massive ideas and perspectives to audiences using the extraordinary power of visual language. Without getting too political and hot headed, I think it’s a shame that the arts aren’t as highly regarded as other education/work fields – but that shouldn’t discourage anyone who is passionate and dedicated. If your school doesn’t supply many art materials, draw in your maths book.

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Where do you want to be a year from now?

Hopefully travelling around the US on some sort of cheese and chocolate tour. Until that day comes, however, I’d love to collaborate with more incredible women and create something I’m whole-heartedly proud of, maybe even using scented gel pens, a giant scratch’n’sniff!

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