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In Conversation: Millie McIntosh

Artist and Illustrator Millie McIntosh discusses with us all things art. From creativity, influences and where her journey began as an artist.

Photo @milliemcintoshh

What would you say is your favourite art gallery?

As an artist people think you’d have visited a lot of galleries but in reality I’ve only been to like 3 so I’d have to say the Alte Nationalgalerie in Berlin is my favourite so far. I’d love to go to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

You delve into a lot of techniques with your art from illustrations, portraits, digital and more, what is your favourite technique?

I’ve changed my style a lot recently because I’ve been doing alot of online classes that entails timed drawing tasks so I have to block in the basics as quickly as possible. I’d say my favourite technique is using gouache, which is a cross between watercolour and acrylic paint, and coloured pencil because it’s quite a quick technique and it’s how I start the creative process for a lot of my pieces. It’s kind of my way of sketching out my initial ideas, most people use a pencil or a biro but I use watercolour and coloured pencils.

What piece of art has been your most important so far?

The Biggie Smalls painting is definitely one of the most important to me because it was the first piece of artwork to be hung up in someone home which is so weird to see. I’d say another important piece of work I've done was for my uni project that I created a hypothetical tea company and its packaging for and it’s the start of my creative portfolio before I start my search for a design/illustration agencies.

Pictured: Biggie Smalls by Millie McIntosh.

How important is it to be surrounded with like minded creatives?

It’s definitely important to be surrounded by people who are creative too because you can always bounce ideas off each other and they can look at things from a different point of view and input things you may not have thought about before. It could be seen as negative sometimes though, because as creatives we think very similar so you could be creating something close to what another artist is creating and they could get the clout for it even though your work is unintentionally identical.

Talking of identical work, would you say there is a blurred line between taking ideas compared to taking inspiration?

It’s a very fine line. I see taking inspiration as something you can pick apart and use different aspects of for example taking colour palettes, line work and the medium of use. Compared to taking a direct copy of someone’s work, that's taking ideas. It’s difficult to say from someone else’s perspective of what is taking ideas and what is taking inspiration because everyone will see it differently.

You mention perspective, how important is that art can be interpreted however the viewer sees it?

The artist can set out to have their piece mean one thing, but the view completely rips it apart and analyses it completely different, creating the piece to be seen completely the opposite to what it actually is. Art is an opinion, that’s the one thing I want to say. It’s purely based on what somebody sees from their perspective, if that makes sense. Like for example graffiti. To the government and high authorities it’s seen as vandalism but as creatives it’s seen as art.

Who are your top influences in terms of your art and creativity?

I don’t actively look for influences its just something that happens naturally, as im passively scrolling on the internet. As an artist you don’t just have to be inspired by art, you can be inspired by a poem, by lyrics to a song. You can be inspired by anything. Anybody can be inspired by anything.

To be honest I take a lot of influence from music more than art. I’d say Tyler the Creator’s aesthetic and Golf le Fleur is a vibe. I also listen to alot of Steve Lacy and Frank Ocean and I love the brand Carhartt. This year I’ve been my own influence basically because I’ve just been creating so much and trying to find my own direction.

Pictured: Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars by Millie McIntosh.

Was there a pivotal moment when you decided to follow your path as an artist?

I sort of always knew, I’ve always been drawing. I don’t know who influenced it as a child but I’ve just always been drawing from what I can remember, I guess it was a form of escapism, it was quite therapeutic. During secondary school I had an idea of being an artist but I didn't know it could be a full time career. Like I didnt know how to get there, I always looked at it as work on the side.

If art wasn’t the designated career what would you do instead?

Music is definitely the second most interesting after art. I think I’d be a DJ you know. Or a Fashion designer, I already make some clothes myself. It would definitely be something in the creative field, I can’t see myself doing anything else... apart from being a zookeeper, I love animals.

Name three artists or songs you listen to when creating your art?

It depends what I’m doing, if I'm smashing out a task I'll stick on a bit of drum and bass, but if I was actually creating a piece of work, like painting or something, I’d play a bit of Steve Lacy and Frank Ocean. Number one would be… Tyler the Creator. Definitely Tyler the Creator. Next would be Shy FX, you know. It’s a hard one but I’d probably say the third one is Ninety by Jaden. No scrap that! It’s Joji, how could I forget my man Joji.

What will your full circle moment be in terms of your journey as an artist?

Probably, if I’d done an ad campaign for a big brand like Coca-Cola or something, and it’s on adverts all over social media. That’s when I’ll know my career has taken off if that makes sense. That’s ultimately my goal. But at the same time I’d love to be freelance, so if that was the case my full circle moment would be at home creating work and selling it to people that specifically want the work I’ve created, which sounds crazy to me.

Video: Martini Animation by Millie McIntosh.

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