Interview of Maia Boakye by Sophie Pellegrini // I think my favourite aspect of creating art is also the most frustrating sometimes. I like to make something every day and that means that I’m constantly developing and refining my craft.
Hi Maia! Tell us a bit about yourself! Where are you from, how old are you, and what do you do?
I’m a 19-year-old Canadian artist based in Toronto. I’m currently studying Visual Arts at the University of Toronto and working as a freelance illustrator and graphic designer.
How did you get started in the arts?
I’ve been interested in art since I was little, I always remember my Art and English classes being my favourites. After I graduated high school, my lack of time and art supplies in my freshman dorm prompted me to find alternative ways of creating and I started learning digital illustration on the internet and writing poetry.
What medium/s do work in? Do you have a favorite?
Throughout the years I’ve experimented with many different types of media ranging from the aforementioned digital art to sculptural pieces to large-scale paintings to collage. As I’ve been traveling recently, I’ve been trying to improve my poetry and photography skills and have been bringing my sketchbook with me everywhere. I find that the medium I use mostly depends on my environment.
What inspires your artwork? Any favorite artists who have had a particularly meaningful influence on your art?
When I first got into digital art, I went to Instagram to find artists that I could learn from both stylistically and technically. I am really inspired by female illustrators who create personal art that reflects female experience as a whole like Melody Hansen, Frances Cannon, and Manjit Thapp (to name a few). I also am really inspired by large scale installation art like the work of James Turrell and Pipilotti Rist. I love the way that being a space can transform meaning, sometimes even thoughts and ideas. I think all art should have the power to do that.
How would you describe your aesthetic?
I’m not sure I even have an aesthetic! As I develop my work, I find myself experimenting and cycling through different styles. I suppose the most consistent “aesthetic” quality is my use of colour. I really like light and sometimes pastel colours, nothing too intense. Sometimes I like to draw in grayscale to convey heavier feelings. But sometimes the use of playful colours provide an interesting contrast to illustrations that have a bit more personal subject matter.
What’s your favorite thing about being an artist?
I think my favourite aspect of creating art is also the most frustrating sometimes. I like to make something every day and that means that I’m constantly developing and refining my craft. However, it can be hard to let go of past artistic selves and recognize that the artist I was a year ago isn’t the same one I am today. It can be really fun to compare how far you’ve come, even in a time-span as short as a year.
And on the flip side, what’s something that you struggle with, or find more difficult?
I struggle sometimes with the notion of being an artist in the digital age. I’ve learned the good and bad of sharing work on social media. One the one hand, sharing my art it has led to so many opportunities that I wouldn’t have had without the internet. One the other hand however, I find that the very core of social media such as Instagram, is sometimes counterproductive to creating “good” art. The grid format, that for designers and artists is often really well maintained, can very easily lead to creative frustration and wanting to stick to the same thing so that one’s following will like what is posted. I’ve found I feel so much more fulfilled with my art when I take social media less seriously.
What are five things that fascinate you?
Lilies, my little brother, mountains near the ocean, disposable cameras, the similarities between Latin languages.
If you could go back and give you 13-year-old self some advice, what would it be?
I would tell her to draw and write and paint more. I would tell her to not be afraid to listen to slow music when she is sad and to smell more flowers. I would tell her that life is uncertain and so is art but at least art helps us get through that uncertainty.