Interview of Felicity Maharjan-Reid by Sophie Pellegrini
Hi Felicity! Tell us a bit about yourself!
I’m Felicity, or Flick as my mates call me. I’m a 29-(almost 30)-year-old artist from Melbourne. My biggest addiction is my art. I’ve been drawing and painting for so long now; I’m hooked and I’ll keep making art until I die. Others thing that I love are listening to music, my cat Clinton, my husband (most of the time), wrestling of all kinds, all things cartoony and geeky, and I’m a huge foodaholic. My current aim is to make as much art as possible until I reach my desired skill level (of the artist Amadeus) and to enjoy as much of my life as possible. I’m also planning on having kids this year and if that doesn’t work out, I’m going to get into pro wrestling or body building, whichever comes to me first.
How did you get started in illustration?
I’ve been drawing since I was a kid, creating my own little worlds out of drawings. I drew in exercise books but didn’t decide till I was 21 when I came across the work the work of Shaun Tan that being an illustrator was something I wanted to do (and the other alternative was to stay in my home and stay in childcare, ugh), so I escaped my home town (the blue mountains in Sydney) and got into a illustration course in Melbourne. From there I studied, and then when I left art school, I set about drawing as much as I could, making art for friends, family, and exhibitions, making art for challenges I set for myself…whatever I could get into to keep my creative juices flowing. Some gigs I did were paid, a lot were and still are unpaid, but for me it’s more important that I keep the creative juices following.
Many of your illustrations are of women. What draws you to this subject matter?
It’s hard to explain since I’ve drawn women for as long as I remember. I’m not really sure why exactly, all I know is the deep sense of satisfaction I get from this subject and the soothing feeling I get creating these women. It might have something to do with the fact that women are beautiful, terrifying, ass-kicking glamazons worthy of worship, but it’s hard to say .
Are the people you illustrate inspired by real people in your life, or “made up” characters?
It’s a bit of both. I draw some of my characters based on people I know, but I also like drawing characters that I’ve made up in on my mind, as well as drawing recreations of other people’s characters that I see in my favourite movies or tv shows.
What do you hope people will take away from viewing your illustrations?
That’s a hard question, but I guess the biggest reaction I want from people is happiness. I want people to like what they see and enjoy the women I’m showing them, ya know? To make them laugh, make them show it to their friends, brighten their lives a little, and if I can empower people and spread important messages as well, even better.
Tell us a bit about your work process. What inspires your pieces?
I draw inspiration from everywhere, but right now a lot of my inspiration comes from my feelings and thoughts and the several hundred amazing artists that I follow on Instagram.I love looking at an artist’s Instagram post and thinking, “hmm, that’s a great technique or that’s a great concept, let’s try that.”
How long does it usually take you to finish something? Do you start with an idea or create as you go?
My pieces can usually take 2-3 hours to create, it just depends on the concept; usually I sketch my ideas or I have a look at body poses online, see a pose that resonates with an idea I have, and start sketching.
How do you fill your time when you aren’t illustrating?
When I’m not drawing I’m working pretty much full time as a disability support worker, a job that’s both challenging and rewarding.
Who are some of your favorite artists?
Tough question cause there’s so many, but the artists that really inspire me are Miranda Millen, Frances Cannon, Maruti Bitamin, Katrina Young, Shaun Tan, Mimby Jones Robinson, Hayao Miyazaki, Pendleton Ward, Jamie Hewlett, and NEN. These artists all have different styles but they have all worked hard at their craft and spend years perfecting it and that is what really inspires me.
Why do you believe feminism is important?
In a world that seems to be going steadily backwards about so many things but particularly the way we treat women, I think it’s really important for all women, young and old, to have something that encourages them to be strong and keep going, to keep looking after not only themselves but other women as well, instead of hating and shaming. But also, more importantly, something that helps remind them they are all lovely, unique individuals; that they are each their own person and that they all deserve love and respect like everyone else, regardless of society labels or background. And that’s what I feel feminism does.