Saturday, 3 September 2011


"I’m an artist. I art things."

Maddy Vian is a 19-year-old illustration student from a field in South East Kent. Having just finished her foundation course in Visual Communication from UCA (University for the Creative Arts) Canterbury, she will begin Kingston’s Illustration & Animation degree in September.

It’s a hard thing, to describe your own work. Especially as I know a lot of people would describe my style as “cute”. I get that word cropping up a lot in my feedback and, for the most part, they are right. But I think my work is just evolving. I’m still young and I know I have a mountain of style changes ahead.

Only in the past two years have I started thinking about the elemental values of my art – colour, lighting, and composition. Despite my love for it, colour intimidates me, though it’s something I want to explore. I want to get out of my comfort zone black pen and red highlights). Recently I’ve fallen in love with crayons. On my recent trip to Amsterdam I limited myself to a crayon-only pencilcase. I ended up with a messy array of acidic scribbles, but with valid reasoning. It captured the atmosphere far better than black pen would have.

At the moment I love drawing happy little scenarios with forts and cats and other meaningless aesthetics. I’ve also acquired a taste for drawing strangers in public with funny little faces. I love to draw bizarre features; bulbous stripy noses and big droopy eyes. If someone on the bus has a particularly protruding bottom lip, I can’t help but sketch it down. My drawings always have a spontaneous element to them. Who likes perfect anatomy anyway?!

A little sketch inspired by A Monkey on a Rock, by Will Varley. Live music is one of my biggest inspirations and I’m lucky to be around such local talent.

I’ve always liked puns and quips; my brain is constantly generating them throughout the day. This is where a majority of my ideas comes from, in addition to the people I see. Strangers are incredible. Human nature is a bizarre yet wonderful thing, which I love to document.

I have this little saying: ‘I am an artist. I art things’. It was a silly, throw away comment, and doesn’t really mean much, but a few weeks ago someone quoted me in a tweet. So I suppose that’s my quote now. It’s funny when that happens. I completely freak out about any sort of fandom I witness. I get the loveliest emails; when someone says you inspire them, its hard not to scream it from the roof tops.

Souther Salazar is the artist I’ve found most influential, to date. His work inspires me so much that I find I can only look at it in small doses. I discovered him when my friend told me my work was similar, and from that day I’ve been completely infatuated. I made a 5” 7’ sculpture of a monster inspired by his work, and sent him the photos. To my delight he replied and told me it made his day.

My video making originally started as a way to compliment the various little projects I’d set up around the Internet, and I primarily intended to do traditional ‘vlogging’. However, when I first sat in front of the camera I realised it’s a lot harder than it looks. As my videos progressed I was having more fun, and getting a bigger response, from the artistic little tests of mine. I once showed my foundation course tutor my videos. He looked at the screen and then back at me, and said, “You’re a storyteller, aren’t you.” I guess that’s what my videos are, just another way for me to tell stories.

Just three years ago I didn’t know that being an illustrator was a real job. This seems so naïve, but it’s true; I just didn’t conceive it as an option. Since then I’ve learnt a lot. Sadly it’s not just about cute drawings; intelligence and a mind for business will always get your further than someone who can draw a perfect replica of a flower.

Ideally I’d love to dive into the pool of children’s illustration in a few years, but realistically, as long as I’m creating content I like, I’d be happy with whatever came my way! I don’t really know what the future holds for me but that’s what I find the most exciting. Although I believe that you can make your own luck and connections and it’s not always just a case of fate. I like to keep things and I’d love to be storytelling in someway.

The best advice I can give, quite honestly, is just to enjoy every single thing you do on your course and embrace it. Don’t get too bogged down by rules, because in art there’s no right way to do anything. As ever, I’d encourage everyone to keep drawing and spend time on personal art too. Keeping a personal sketchbook has really helped me develop much more than a day at college would. I’ve recently been wondering, “What do normal people do in their spare time?” I’d put time into drawing and inspiring others over managing my crops on Farmville any day.

I’m sure I was just as disturbed as others by the recent London/UK riots, and I really wanted to draw about how I felt. I knew it was a tricky subject; I didn’t want to offend anyone by making anything too cute, or dumbing down the facts. Instead I was inspired by one of my favourite stories, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas by Dr Seuss. Known for his political satire, his words seemed to fit perfectly with the situation.

I like to imagine Google is a creature who keeps a whole lot of secrets. I like to imagine we are friends.


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