May 16, 2016

Spotlight: Maddy Young

Talking zines, imagery, and studio life with Maddy Young.

I've recently become obsessed with plants and have decided that my new goal in life is to be a Plant Girl aka accumulate as many as possible in my small Brooklyn apartment.  I'm even nerdy enough to have a secret Pinterest board devoted entirely to plant inspiration. So as you can imagine, I was totally stoked to stumble upon Maddy Young, an artist based in Melbourne, Australia, whose work is heavily loaded with plant and hand imagery.

I discovered Maddy's artwork through the vast Tumblrverse as I do most things, and immediately fell in love with her work's simplistic but also intricate style. After a few seconds of admiring her work, you will notice consistencies in the themes she chooses to explore: fleeting memories, moments of deep contemplation, lingering feelings of longing and uncertainty. Her work is quiet in a loud way; reminding us that sometimes one simple, stark image can elicit so many thoughts and feelings. Maddy was gracious enough to talk to us in more depth about this, as well as her day-to-day process searching for inspiration and working through it in the studio.

The Le Sigh: You make prints, zines, pins, pretty much everything we love to collect. If you had to pick, what is your favorite thing to make and why?

Maddy Young: Zines are defiantly my favorite to make. It always feels like I've done a complete work when I make a new zine, something that starts at point A and finishes at point B. I find them totally immersive and the weeks I spend on one is often a time of focus which I find really calming. Zines are also where I first really got interested in art, I think around the time I discovered the work of artists like Mel Stringer and Benjamin Constantine, so they will always be my home base in terms of what I want to make.

TLS: I saw a picture of your studio and it looked like the dreamiest/coziest spot in the world. What does a typical day in the studio look like for you?

MY: I try and get into the studio early, so it doesn't feel like I've wasted my morning sleeping in! I always start with a coffee, and writing my to do list, and I'll try and do the drawing part of work in the morning before getting to emails and all those annoying administrative tasks. I try and keep the afternoon for "fun" stuff like working on drawings for myself or errands like going to the post office. I find it a bit hard to keep on task around this time of the day usually so I'll listen to podcasts or watch cartoons while I work. If I feel myself getting too distracted I'll busy myself watering my plants or go for a short walk, I'm trying to train myself into thinking those two things as being a sort of mental reboot. I usually work until a weirdly late time of night which means I get to bed late and always wake up tired.

TLS: I really enjoy the imagery of hands and plants in your pieces. What other imagery and concepts do you feel you gravitate towards?

MY: I have a pretty consistent set of symbols and images I use within my work – I think I'm ultimately always trying to build the same message of longing and unease, always exploring a set of feelings that fascinates me the most. Something sort of painful but comforting at the same time, like an old memory. I work with images of plant life and hands the most because I see them as symbols of growth/life and possession. Plants for me are a fleeting beauty, and hands are our own need to have and hold. The things I'm most interested in exploring are different aspects of ritual, desire, and regret.

TLS: What is the inspiration behind your Lost and Stay zines?

MY: Lost was the finished result of a completed sketchbook, and the first zine that I ever tried to make one consistent book, instead of just a compilation of random sketches. Stay was a continuation on this, and was drawn in about a week, with a very set narrative and subject. Both are personal diaries of where my head was at at the time, and how I felt about the people in my life I was surrounded by; both friends and foes. When I read those books now they make me feel the way I did back then.

TLS: You’re based in Melbourne which is quite a trek from where we are. What are your favorite things to do and places to go when you aren’t working?

MY: I moved from Brisbane originally, so Melbourne is still somewhat of a mystery to me! Im quite lucky that most of my friends live or work nearby, so i try to catch up with people as much as i can (I have a tenancy to burrow into my studio and not maintain a social life) My favorite cafe is Cibi in Fitzroy but a bit far away – otherwise my favorite places to visit are the state library in the city, and the crystal display at the Melbourne museum. Me and my boyfriend try and get out of the city as much as we can, but Melbourne is also blessed with an abundance of beautiful parks – I try and avoid the more busy areas if I am able to.

TLS: Are you working on anything new at the moment?

MY: Currently on a bit of a lock down, trying to complete a number of tattoo commissions and zines.

Check out Maddy Young's work on her site.

Written by Diana Cirullo