Giving Your Right Brain a Regular Workout

Featured Artist: RB Resident Marian Machismo

"Thomas Sowell wrote, 'There are only two ways of telling the complete truth - anonymously and posthumously.' I wager that there is a third way, and that's inside your sketchbook. "

Marian Machismo is an artist who specializes in hand-drawn patterns and illustrations. She recently wrapped up her time as one of Redbubble’s artists-in-residence with “Made in House,” an exhibition showing off the work she created while working from our Melbourne offices.

We spoke with Marian about her stint as an RB resident, the challenges of creating work for products, and how she almost decided to walk away from it all.

"Leadlight Dreaming" Scarves by Marian Machismo

This residency really pushed you to think about how to create work on products. What did you find was the biggest challenge? What did you enjoy the most?

I think the biggest challenge for me was time. I’m a very impatient person, not just in life but with my practice. Which is strange because for the most part, my work is very detailed and time consuming. I’d much rather stay up all night to finish a piece than wait until tomorrow to see how its going to look. When designing for products, you finish the work, upload it, buy it, and then wait to see how it looks IRL. Thank God for express shipping!

You had to use a sketchbook throughout your residency. How did you incorporate it into your practice? 

More than incorporating the sketch book into my practice I made it my practice. For the last three months, it’s come everywhere with me. It’s the first thing I grab in the morning so I can sketch whilst I made my coffee, it slept next to me in case I had any ideas through the night. It even came into the bath one time. I have an addictive personality, and once I get hooked on something, that’s it. Which in this case, is great! I finally found something that doesn’t require cleaning up after I’m done, which means I can work constantly wherever I am.

"Sometimes being a creative is a lonely game and it's easy to second guess yourself. Redbubble reminded me of the importance of staying true to yourself regardless of the final product or destination."

What’s the one thing you’re most proud of in your artwork?

Honesty. Thomas Sowell wrote, “There are only two ways of telling the complete truth – anonymously and posthumously.” I wager that there is a third way, and that’s inside your sketchbook. I don’t draw in there with the expectation that others will read it but rather to understand the world around me and my experiences of existing within it. The real challenge is then releasing it into the world.

I love your hand-drawn style. Could you tell us about how long you’ve been interested in drawing?

Thank you. It’s been a journey for me thats for sure. I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember. I had an unusual childhood. I grew up on a commune without any other children or electricity, no television, no lights, and not a lot to do. But I was really close to my Dad who was also an artist and I remember long afternoons listening to records and drawing side by side. He taught me the basics, like how to hold your brush, and how to get a straight line with your pen. So it was no surprise to anyone that I went on to study art after high school. I’m sure they (my parents) hoped that after my first or second or even third art degree that I would grow up and get a real job. Jokes on them though. I didn’t study drawing however, that was my dad’s game. I floated through ceramics, sculpture, photography, printmaking, anything that wouldn’t find me holding a pen or brush. This caused a lot of borderline heated discussions on what is art and the purpose of creating between the two of us. I was living in New York when he passed away after a brutal fight with the big C, and when I returned home, broken, I honestly believed that I would never draw again. Luckily, I had an extremely persistent friend who wouldn’t let me quit and with her pushing I started to draw again. Drawing helped me work through my grief and together we exhibited my first collection of drawings. I’ve never looked back.

"Girl Gang" Pencil Skirt by Marian Machismo

What attracts you to pattern work?

I love the intricate simplicity of pattern work. The history and tradition. I like how I can subvert its structure to tell my own stories. The colour palette is something new for me. I’m drawn to the way colour can convey feelings or emotions, and in the same way, control them.

What have you learnt the most from your time in the Redbubble residency?

To trust my voice. Sometimes being a creative is a lonely game and it’s easy to second guess yourself. Redbubble reminded me of the importance of staying true to yourself regardless of the final product or destination.

Do you have a new series, collection, or body of work in mind? What’s next?

I can never just work on one thing at once. Right now I have a list of maybe 20 things I want to do and make. But you’re going to have to wait and see what comes next.

Support Marian Machismo by picking up some great products featuring her work at her shop. And see more from Marian Machismo and the other RB Residents (Creature Creature and Andy Thomas) on display at Made in House.

See more Featured Artists