Milly is an illustrator at Leeds Arts with a witty instatag to match her weird and wonderful style.
Q: What led you to start making art?
A: It sounds a little cliche, but I think creating has always been part of who I am. It’s difficult for me to pinpoint when and why I started making ‘art’, as it’s just something I always liked doing, so I continued to do it.
Q: Who are your favourite artists?
A: Some artists that really tickle my brain are Jay Cover, Sophie Koko, Joi Fulton, Renato Flores, Molly Fairhurst, Nahuel Bardi, Andrew Beck, Roisin O’Donnell, Max Löffler, Amber Vittoria, Hel Covell, and Aysha Tengiz. I could go on.
When and where do you get your best ideas?
A: Ideas can come from everywhere. I really love living in Leeds because there are so many points of inspiration. My Norwood Part 1 and 2 screen print series were inspired by my experience of living in Leeds as a student, with the duality of feeling a little lonely and isolated, but also knowing you’re part of a wider community. One day I was walking home in the early evening, and the windows were bright yellow against the blue of the sky- kind of reminded me of a doll house, and suddenly everything felt very surreal. Those screen prints kind of encapsulated how I was feeling at the time. To summarise, I think I get my best ideas randomly.
Q: What is important to you?
A: I think it's important to be aware of your audience. I always try to install a sense of humour or charm into my work, as that's what I always tend to enjoy as a viewer. As an illustrator or general creative there’s that responsibility to be aware of what you are actually insinuating and in turn, communicating to the world. I think mainly, it's important to be open to change in your work and recognise if something you’ve made is not having the intended effect.
Q: How do you get started?
A: If I have a specific project in brief, I usually tackle this by iterating loads of sketches around the theme until I stumble upon something I’m really into. I do this a lot with characters, and try to bring the best of the last drawing into the next. I’m still a student at this point, and I think I'd like to have that mentality for a long time. Still figuring things out!
What makes you happy?
A: The little things, like inexpensive charity shop yarn.
Q: If you could travel back one year (pre Covid), what would you tell yourself?
A: You’re doing really well, and you shouldn’t be so hard on yourself. To be honest, I’d probably say that to myself now haha, I’m a bit of a perfectionist. I was so stressed about having a specific ‘style’ that I put myself down whenever I’d lean towards another approach to making. Pre-covid I was DJing for salsa society, doing uni work, going to rehearsals for musical theatre, doing gigs, panicking and just running myself ragged. I wasn’t really giving myself that time to sit down and just make. I was always working digitally on the go, like on a train or in a spare moment at a rehearsal. It's an ongoing process of course, but i'm learning that it's okay to slow down a bit, take a moment, and enjoy the journey.
Q: What music do you listen to when making?
A: Honestly it really varies. At the moment I’m really enjoying Bungalow Pop Vol.1 by Matt Grocott (of which I made the Album Art for last summer, cheeky plug), a generic Spotify 70s playlist, Sinnohvation by insaneintherainmusic, and Creme de la Creme by T-Square. The last two are both instrumental albums, which I’ve found a real love for recently.
Q:What is the future of your artform?
A: I'm not really sure, but I think I quite like it like that! I’m currently curating a project around green mythical creatures in the Middle Ages, and have been looking at their various positions within folklore. (I post a lot of this recent stuff on my instagram, @millystration). For this I’ve been doing a lot more character design, rug punching, and work with clay, of which I’m really enjoying. In general, I love working with musicians and collaborating with other creatives. I also enjoy editorial briefs, especially with short deadlines. I’m sure I wouldn’t say this at the time, but I do enjoy working to a tight deadline..
Q: What's next for you as an artist?
A: I’ve recently acquired an AKAI EWI 5000, which I’m very excited to integrate into my practice. I’ve previously produced small bits of music for animations, but am eager to meld my musical practise with my illustrative one further. In a literal sense, I graduate this year, so more work! (I hope).