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Artist Spotlight

Melanie Miles feels fulfilled by enjoying the creative process

Melanie is a designer and illustrator based in Melbourne, Australia. She has a multidiscipline artistic background having studied and worked in the design industry for over 15 years. In this time, she has worked on a broad range of creative disciplines including branding, print design, and illustration. Her illustration style relies on a balance of digital and traditional processes for a feminine and playful hand-drawn aesthetic.

Why do you love creating?

There is something about the creative process that brings a lot of fulfilment. You can fall into a zone where everything just flows and what you create comes from pure joy, but there are also moments during the process that cause deep frustration. I find if you push through the frustration and allow yourself to see it as a process of discovery, you often learn something about yourself and your art. Making it equally rewarding and satisfying.

Describe your creative process. Do you have rituals to making?

My journal plays a big role in my creative process.

All my patterns I create start in my journal. I spend a bit of time thinking and often pick a theme that I can base the patterns around; travel, current life experiences or even a story from childhood which helps to set some parameters.

I then decide on a colour palette, which is always based around pink. I like to work out the colour palette first so that I can paint the background before I sketch the design…Too often I’ve made the mistake of drawing my pattern first, then deciding after I wanted a coloured background! LOL

Once I have the background down I pencil my pattern, paint with gouache then add finer details with a white gel pen. I repaint my favourite patterns on good quality paper to sell and scan the originals to rework for repeat patterns and limited edition giclee prints.

What tips do you have for beginners?

Enjoy the process of learning as it leads to growth and just do you. It’s important to continue learning and trying new things – not only to develop your own style but to find what it is you love doing. Trying new things also helps spark ideas.

Be true to yourself; don’t feel that you need to follow trends. Trust that by following what you love doing, you’ll find your niche tribe, just keep practicing.

How do you fill your inspiration well?

I’m a firm believer in trying new things outside of your normal practise. I continue to learn new skills, take classes or do workshops. Even if you don’t use it in your daily practise it gives you a deeper “well” to draw from when you come across a creative block. Sometimes the best ideas come from the most unexpected sources.

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What do you do when you don’t know what to make?

At the beginning of the year, I decided I wanted to draw/paint or create on a daily basis. I love a good productivity hack and I read this great one by Jerry Seinfeld of all people called “Don’t break the chain.” The trick is to mark the calendar each day you do your desired activity with the goal of not breaking the chain. This really helped me change my mindset because I didn’t want to break that chain. Rather than saying I don’t know what to make, I would tell myself to just start even if it would only be for 5 minutes. That might mean drawing, picking a subject and researching or looking through books for inspiration, but that one little action usually helped spark ideas and that 5 minutes would turn into an hour or more!

How do you find time to make things?

During the week each night, I carve out 1-2 hours that I dedicate to my personal illustration practise. I’ve been doing this for years now so it’s become a well formed habit. I use that time to paint in my journal, work on my website or research. Weekends I spend a little more time on painting originals, reworking my designs into repeat patterns or more journaling.

What are your must have supplies?

Ooh my must-haves are definitely my journal. Currently I use an A5 hard cover Hahnemühle it has thick pages that hold the paint really well which makes it really lovely to paint in too. Also Acryla/Turner gouache, my iPhone to snap pics and the Snapseed app for editing my photos for IG.

Equally for my digital process my Wacom, Epson Scanner, Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.

What is your biggest struggle or barrier to creating and how do you overcome it?

I had always wanted to paint and illustrate in my spare time; however, I used to make excuses like “I don’t know what to paint” or “I don’t have any good ideas at the moment”. The turning point for me was when my teacher at the time really encouraged the use of a journal, where it didn’t matter what you painted or drew. It didn’t have to be for anyone else but me, so I used this as a way to break through the barrier of not starting.

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Melanie Miles

Melanie is a designer and illustrator based in Melbourne, Australia. She has a multidiscipline artistic background having studied and worked in the design industry for over 15 years. In this time, she has worked on a broad range of creative disciplines including branding, print design, and illustration. Her illustration style relies on a balance of digital and traditional processes for a feminine and playful hand-drawn aesthetic.

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