Friday, 8 November 2013

Lily Mae Martin :: Artist :: Beyond SQUEE!

Georgia :: Lily Mae Martin

Lily Mae Martin is one of the most talented artists that I have ever met. Her work is simply breathtaking. I actually have a physical reaction to it. Maybe that's due to the very personal and truthful depictions of real people, or maybe it's because it's just bloody unreal and so so beautiful. She clearly has amazing talent but what has struck me in conversation with Lily is that she works so hard at her craft and invests fully in the process. I cannot imagine being so dedicated to something but as Lily would attest, she can't NOT make art. 

I had a chat with Lily Mae a couple of days ago and she very generously answered a few questions for The Squee. After reading this and viewing some of her pictures I am sure you'll agree that Lily May is worthy of a super squeaky SQUEE.

How old are you Lily Mae?

Currently, I am 30.

Where were you born, where have you lived, and where do you live now?

I was born in Carlton, Melbourne and I have lived all over Victoria. I have also lived in Berlin and Cardiff. Now I am back in Melbourne - for the time being.

How do you think the places you've lived have affected your art? Has it played a part?

I moved to Berlin for my work, originally. So I became more dedicated to it than I had been previously. I was exposed to all sorts of new art and artists and life and it really invigorated me. I still can’t find the time to do all the things I want to do!

Nicholas Jones :: Lily Mae Martin

What mediums do you favour and why?

I favour the pen for drawing and oils for painting. but I also like to use pencil, coloured pencil, ink, watercolour and gouache. I’ll try anything really. But I favour them as they all have qualities in them I really enjoy. I like the pen because I can replicate a style that is almost like etching. I like oil because of it’s texture and it’s lushness. It also smells pretty good.

How do you describe the kind of artist you are and the kind of art you make?

Well, firstly, I let them know that there are several different things I do! Primarily I am a figurative fine artist - my main focus is drawing. I also paint - mostly portraits and I draw a lot of still life/ documentary drawing. I also do some illustration. And write.

What led you to this kind of art? To art in general?

Drawing just made sense, it was the only thing that people didn’t have much ( negative ) commentary on so I just kept up with it. It has played many different parts in my life - it’s been the thing that makes me interesting or the thing that was cathartic. It’s what I think about all the time and I am always coming up with new ideas and new ways to explore the medium. Sometimes it’s a wordless passion and sometimes there are so many words I have to write and write - and draw - about it. I feel like it’s so inconsistent in an consistent way. There’s so much I still don’t know and am still learning and it will be with me until the day I drop dead. And even then - it’ll probably still taunt me.
‘What you think being dead is an excuse not to be drawing!?’

What are you working on at the moment?

A comic, a large portrait in oil, a three part drawing series, paintings and drawings from life, sketching in cafes and sketching my child and domestic life - which I used to put online but now I just keep in my books - trying to feed myself, sleep adequately and Toddler and I will be starting on stuff for Christmas really soon!

What does your art space look like?

I have several spaces, the one I have a photo of is my painting shed. The light in there is fantastic but in high summer I have to wear a hat or I just burn.

Whose art are you currently enjoying? Why do you love them?

I am always enjoying Dürer, Laurie Lipton, Lucian Freud, Jenny Saville, Monique Revell , Jasmine Jean and Elwyn Murray. I’ve been reading a lot too - so that has been pretty inspiring as well. The latest book I read was Madness by Kate Richards and that has been on my mind while I have been working on my latest works.

Is there any art genre/medium/artist you don't like/get?

Nope, not really. If I am not into something I’m more likely to forget it rather than let it sit in my head and not be liked. Everything has it’s place and purpose.

What's the best feedback you've been given?

I’ve had amazing things said to me and written about my work by people I admire - I could write a list but I don’t want to be name dropping! I am very humbled by the encouragement I have received from people.
Sometimes people just swear at a work I have just made. Which is pretty funny! I assume it’s a good thing - to have all the words taken from you except for expletives.
My daughter sometimes says to my work - wow! And I think I constantly surprise my husband - which is really awesome because he knows my work better than anyone.

Tea Cup :: Lily Mae Martin

What do you consider your greatest achievement as an artist?

Having the exhibitions that I have had - my solo in Berlin in 2012 and the show I had this year at the Scott Livesey Galleries.
Through my drawing I have come to teaching and I think that is pretty amazing.
And just being able to evolve my craft. It gets better every year and I think that that is pretty great.

What sort of challenges have you faced as an artist and how have you managed to overcome them?

There is a very long list of things that have been challenging. I’ve overcome them through my own strength and through the encouragement and dedication of my husband.

If you could give 18 year old Lily Mae Martin some advice what would you tell her?

Stop doing all the things you are doing now and go study.

Tusk Sketch :: Lily Mae Martin

You're a wonderful mummy to your wee girl. How do you balance art with family life?

This made me smile, and coming from you - it’s pretty special. So thank you :)
Balancing family and art is an ongoing  progress. We’ve moved a few countries and circumstances have changed as well as each stage my daughter goes through brings on new demands and freedoms! I used to find it very hard, especially in Berlin before we had her kita ( daycare ). But I find it easier now, especially since my work has changed a little too and I make a lot of work about family life. There is always something that has to be sacrificed. In Berlin it was sleep. Here it’s more social stuff.

What sort of things make you excited or make you go SQUEE!?

Children, art, beautiful books, origami, beautiful paper, a good meal, comfy bed, a clean house, pretty flowers and the drawings and stories my daughter tells me.

What do you do when you're not making art?

I think about it and feel guilty. In a bath.

**Note from Ash*** 
I'd like to say a big thank you to Lily Mae for taking the time to chat and I'd like to encourage you rad kids to visit Click on the blog link at the top of her site to see some of her current work, goings on and this & that.


  1. What a fabulous interview. So good to read more about the artist behind the work. That second one in particular is quite amazing, I've gone back up to it several times to squint and scrutinise my screen.
    Lovely post :-)

  2. Thanks! It was great to chat with Lily. She is such an great chick, full of surprises as an artist and well and truly fun to hang out with as well as being a rad mum.


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