I often find a certain comfort and familiarity between myself and the artists and makers that I meet; a likemindedness perhaps and a shared outlook on life and what matters to us. In the words of Maria “drawing is simply a part of who I am,” a lovely sentiment that resonates with my own feelings towards photography.
This projects allows me to look behind the scenes of a nicely curated Instagram feed. It gives me an insight into the brands I love; the people, their workspace and craft. I get to see works in progress, shoot their hands as they create and hear the passion in their voice and they talk about their art.
I caught up with Maria in Cape Town, on the most misty, beautiful morning and was welcomed into her home and studio space. We drank tea and spoke easily about travel, inspiration and work. Maria has a lovely way with words and is honest and open in her answers, I am a huge fan of her work and really hope that you enjoy this interview and photo series.
Tell us a little bit about your work and how it started?
I am never sure where to begin when sharing my journey with drawing. It all started from a very young age. Drawing has just always been a part of who I am and how I express myself. My first drawings are framed in my mother’s home. My first exhibition was age 8. I discovered a photo of me with my drawing from that exhibition and it’s now stuck to my bedroom mirror to serve as a constant reminder of who I am. If I have ever tried to impress someone with my art, it’s my 8-year-old self.
My heart always yearned for art, but in High School I had to sneak into art class as the teacher said my drawings were not strong enough. In university I always narrowly scraped through for drawing. That all changed the moment I put the pencil down and somewhat dramatically started revealing my ink drawings in crits. The moment I switched mediums was the moment I started receiving top marks.
Never for a second did I ever imagine that it would become my career, but it all seems comically inevitable looking back. My mother convinced me to attempt selling some prints, I had no faith in my work, but I desperately wanted to change my life and had noting to lose at that point. My first drawing was auctioned off at my church for a fundraising event, blogs picked it up a month later and the rest is history.
What inspires your designs the most?
Music and poetry are both powerful inspirations in my work. It moves me so deeply that my creativity simply has no choice but to burst through. Everything I create is profoundly emotional, intimate, vulnerable and tells a story. They are the stories of my life: whether it’s the beauty I find in seemingly mundane moments or stories I share of my hopes, dreams, joy and sadness. My drawings are an extension of my heart and hands.
Do you have a favourite piece from your collection? Why is it your favourite?
My artworks are like my children; I get very attached to them. My favourites change constantly depending on my mood. The ones I have up in my home at the moment are Contours of Table Mountain and Aerial View of the North of Table Mountain. I feel a deep connection to Gazing at Palm Trees as well. It transports me from my crazy life to a place of utter calmness, remembering long summer days spent as a child lying with my hair in the sand and watching the light flicker through palm leaves. My favourite pieces are always those that evoke some form of an emotion.
How do you balance work, rest and family time? Do you think you have a good work-life balance?
My priorities in my personal life have shifted extensively over the past few years since I met Sean. I used to have a full time job and a full time brand on the side. I poured every waking moment into my work and spent nights, weekends, holidays working. It’s all worth it in the end if you are able to successfully launch your own business, but it is not sustainable from a personal or a business perspective. I am still learning to leave work behind and it will be something that I will continue to work at for the rest of my life.
I took my very first holiday this year where I didn’t take my laptop with and it was such a blessing. It offered me the chance to truly rest and left me feeling creatively rejuvenated. My priority now is my fiancé, my family and my close friends. And me. I am learning more and more that if I take care of myself first, I am able to care for those that I love and my clients so much better. I’m not quite there yet but I am actively trying to improve my work / life / rest balance.
What is your studio environment like? Podcasts or music, what are you listening to while you work?
My studio is one of my favourite places in the world, mostly because of the girls I share it with. It has made such a difference in my life to have them around as friends, therapists and business advisers. We bounce ideas around and there’s always someone to offer advice, crack a joke or a shoulder to cry on. No one is too cool or takes themselves too seriously – it’s a beautifully raw and honest environment.
Anna (jeweler) adores listening to a podcast. I have never really gotten into it. I’m more of a music, silence or series girl. Alexia (ceramicist) sometimes jokes about the polar opposite music coming from Anna’s rooms and mine. Right now I have fallen in love with classical music all over again and I am blaring my favourite opera music as we speak. I listen to songs on repeat and never get sick of them. There’s nothing in this world that can lift my mood as powerfully as music. My most recent favourite is Benjamin Francis Leftwich. I honestly don’t care if music is considered cool, if it’s new or if it’s popular – I only care about how it makes me feel.
What is the most gratifying part of your job?
Making people happy. My business evolved from creating hand drawn pieces for loved ones as special gifts to sharing my drawings with the world. I love giving people presents and find it so much more intimate if it comes from the heart. Every online order still has me doing a silly happy dance, especially when it’s a gift to one of their friends and I can hand write the message to them. It makes me ridiculously happy.
Do you have any advice for somebody wanting to make his or her creativity a career?
My advice to anyone who is considering starting a creative business is to really put some thought into what it is you want from your brand / business. The creative industry is tough, really tough. Owning your own business is hard. You sacrifice your personal time, your financial security and there are many ups and downs. It mostly takes years to really figure things out, but will never be 100% smooth sailing.
I think it’s vitally important to be upfront about that. If it’s in your heart and there’s nothing in this world you would rather do than run your own creative business, then go for it! Set up your business as if you will become hugely successful overnight. Get the basics sorted: logo, website, email, accountant, social media, etc. Learn from others and be open to change. Then hold on tight, as you are about to embark on the biggest adventure of your life.
It’s terrifying and exhilarating and beautifully flawed, but it is all yours.