Artist Margo McDaid captured my heart with her gorgeous sailors on instagram and has produced a wonderful double page spread for Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion featuring her highly decorative portraits of men and women. Here she talks about her move to the coastal town of Ramsgate, and how motherhood as fostered a renewed energy for creating pictures.
Where did you study and what happened after graduation?
I studied at Camberwell College of Art. I exhibited at the New Designers show in Islington and was approached by a company called Babylon Design. I was incredibly naive about the business side of design but so pleased to have been approached by a really well known design company. My designs were produced and sold in The Conran Shop in London and in Paris. When I saw the product I designed in the shop I felt an enormous sense of disappointment. I had laboured over this design in my final year, months spent working on the milling machine, ensuring the product was as beautifully made as possible. The product in the shop was crudely made and lacked the integrity of design. It was a huge revelation and it really quickly made me realize, that I was not prepared to be part of this.
How did you get away from mass production and what did you do next?
I started volunteering in an adventure playground in South London. It was so vibrant and fresh and the children were so full of energy and life. It felt like a complete fresh break away form the corporate design world. I started to really love this creative journey. I wasn’t ready for the design world. I just wanted to continue a creative process. I ended up running art workshops in Islington and South London and eventually became a teacher.
When did you start drawing and creating for yourself again and who or what has inspired you?
Having a baby was life changing. I became a mother and it felt like a fresh start, a creative start. I had always kept a sketch book and would produce drawings purely for pleasure and make birthday cards for friends. One day I saw my boy drawing and I saw this amazing artist at work. He would come to me and say “I need to draw”. He needed to draw and it completely awoke a long buried need in me too.
Can you tell us more about your draw a picture a day project?
It was the daily rituals in my life that led to #drawapictureaday. I believed that if I wanted to make a difference to my artistic journey, then I would have to really invest in skill building. I would need to rid myself of preconceived ideas and just get on with it. Losing a fear of failure is essential. I wanted to discover more about me as an artist.
Who did you draw for my colouring book and how did you create your artworks?
I drew two sailors for the colouring book. The sailors are together and are relaxed, they are about to sail away. You can see a boat in the back ground and lots of sea patterns adorn the page. They leave behind the dull aches of life and any expectations others have of them. They have escape. The three women standing in a forest are huddled together in solidarity but there is sadness and fear, both in their expression and body language. They look despondent and detached. They wear clothes that are rich in pattern and their heads are covered in scarves. I think the sub text is about feminism and have we as a society really made progress for women?
Where do you draw and how do you integrate your creativity with family life?
I have several tables in different spots where I draw. I tend to move around to be with my children. I set up my drawing table in a playroom/studio. I also have a table in my bedroom/family room. I read a quote recently, by Tracey Emin and she said that mothers couldn’t be successful artists. I felt really angry by that remark but having discussed it with friends I think she made a valid point. To be successful takes a lot of work and focus and as parent, it is almost impossible to give that time to ambition. So that is why I draw everywhere. I draw on the train to work, at football practice, in front of the TV. Any chance I get – I draw.
Why did you move to Ramsgate and in what way has it inspired you?
We were living in a tiny flat in Islington, North London and I felt so imprisoned by the physical space. I grew up on a small holding in the North West of Ireland, so I just could not face the thought of my children not having access to the outdoors. Ramsgate was cheap and cheerful, and we fell in love immediately. I have always wanted to live beside the sea, to wake up and just walk to the waters edge. Ramsgate is a varied and really interesting town. The overtly ornate architecture of a once golden age are beginning to be rescued one by one from decay, and even though I am a DFL (Down From London) I have a natural love for this place. Ramsgate has a long history of attracting creative people and has a vibrant art scene. I really feel at home here.
What are you currently working on?
I am working on drawings of sailors. I feel that there is a rediscovering of the golden age of seaside life. Dreamland in Margate is a really fun and inspiring place. I want to explore more about seaside aesthetics and develop them in my work. Sea.
What imagery and ideas have inspired your range of postcards?
I love the sea. I love the grey textured sea and the clouds. The Thanet skies are really incredible, so much pattern and texture. I make postcards from recycled envelopes. I was opening the water bill one day and thought of the sea. I love patterns, I see them everywhere and I like to combine the way patterns can compliment or contrast. The British Gas cross hatch looks like the November sky in East Kent with rain very softly coming in from the sea.
I have sold out of the first batch of Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion featuring the work of Margo McDaid and 43 other artists, but you can preorder a copy to receive in mid January here. Make sure you don’t miss out!
- An interview with Johan Lindström: Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion featured artist.
- An interview with Jo Taylor: Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion featured artist.
- An interview with Lydia Coventry: Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion featured artist.
- An interview with Ana Jaks: Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion featured artist.
- An interview with Lorna Scobie: Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion featured artist.