I had the joy of conducting an email interview with the lovely artist Mel Stringer recently – you might already be a fan of her work on Frankie Magazine, or her well-stocked and extremely popular Etsy shop; but if you aren’t, you might just change your mind.
Hi Mel! Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself? Are you a full time artist?
I am a full time artist, yes. It was a tad scary making the leap from part time to full time but every day is rewarding when you work for yourself. There are definitely days when I need to force myself to dig my feet into the sand on the beach or watch movies in bed though, a charging of batteries so to speak. There’s always so many possibilities!
Where do you live? What stands out about living where you are, and what is your daily schedule like?
I’m currently based in Brisbane, Australia. It’s a sub-tropical city with a healthy list of artists and musicians. I work from my home-based studio and I love it.
A typical day would be waking early, feeding my pug Grover, checking emails and clicking around on the internet. Checking my calendar and making a to-do list for the day. At the moment I’m really inspired to work when listening to 70’s R&B, so I’ll crank up some tunes and start working on packing orders, commissioned portraits or just scribbling and dabbling about – dreaming up new ideas in my sketchbook.
Then I’ll head out to the stationery shop to get supplies or the post office to mail stuff off. Most days I’ll bring Grover in with me but he won’t sit still.
Do you keep a journal/sketchbook, and would you mind if we had a sneak peek?
Of course! Here are a few snapshots taken from my Instagram.
I love your style – how did it come about?
I was brought up with such inspirational sources as my Dad who is a cartoonist himself, Disney, Looney Tunes, The Simpsons, Astro Boy, MAD Magazine, Sailor Moon, Don Bluth and those sorts of cartoons that most kids my age grew up watching.
As I got older my influences started to include artists like Robert Crumb, Yoshitomo Nara, Dan Clowes, Ross Campbell, Plump Oyster. A running thread throughout these artists was the way they depicted girls and women in their work. I really connected with it and identified with the shapes and figures they were putting down.
I started drawing my own body and face more and more after I left highschool. It’s a form of self love when I can be proud of what I see on paper and in my reflection.
You have a new book out – Cute Yum, published by Belly Books. Can you tell us a bit more about it? What was the inspiration behind the book, and how did it all come together?
I was approached by Belly Kids late last year about the possibility of working with them on a publication. I had a long think about what I would most like to make and what’s been bubbling up inside me for some time that I just needed to express. I decided on creating a huge collection of female fashionistas (both minimalist and ott) modeling their clothing combinations. That way I could draw my girls, my most favorite types of clothing and have it all in a big collection.
I was inspired by the Japanese street fashion book FRUITS when I found it in late highschool. Since then I’ve been so impressed by street fashion blogs and Japanese fashion. Cute Yum is my own version of street fashion photography.
What’s next for you? Where do you see yourself in the next few years?
Girl Glue #2 is coming out soon, it’s a zine that’s focused on creative females that I put together. A few other projects being brewed too! I’m hopefully setting up a new studio in the near future soon, somewhere to spread out and get into my musical project Sparkle Gang as well.
In the next few years I can only hope to be happy and doing cool stuff that I love.
Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give yourself when you were just starting out as an artist/illustrator?
Stay strong, be brave. Everything else just happens naturally if you are truly passionate about your work. In saying that, I feel I’m still only just starting out so this advice is for me in this present moment as well.
Thanks so much Mel! You can pre-order Mel’s latest book Cute Yum, published by Belly Books over here.