Fiona Maclean is an Artist originally from New Zealand but lives in Sydney, Australia. Fiona’s paintings hang in private collections and appear in international publications. Fiona was chosen by Saatchiart.com as an emerging artist and is already garnering attention for her work. Featured in SaatchiArt.com Fiona was included in this strong emerging talent of artists in the ‘One to Watch’ released by Saatchi.
Name: Fiona Maclean
Current City: New York
DF- Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Fiona Maclean- Born and raised in New Zealand but moved to Sydney Australia at an early age. As a child discovered I was pretty good at drawing and started winning art awards throughout my schooling. Then a stint at Graphic Design School, then studied as a Makeup Artist for Film/TV and Fashion. At the same time I was working as a Freelance Makeup Artist I was Freelancing as a Fashion and Beauty illustrator for mostly editorial. I even had my work published in several Fashion Illustration publications. In 2005 I moved to NYC and was studying at Parsons School of Art (The New School). But my studies there were interrupted by a family tragedy and my art career put on hold for a few years. In 2010 I completed two Artist Residencies in Painting and Illustration at New York’s School of Visual Arts (SVA), giving me new direction and confidence to pursue my art career again. I was chosen by Saatchiart.com as an Artist to watch in their ‘’One to Watch’ 2013. Since then I have been selling regularly through Saatchi art and also through my personal website and actually Instagram! Over the last 12months I have been travelling and exploring the world while evolving as an Artist.
DF- Where’s home at the moment?
Fiona Maclean- My homes are normally in Sydney, Australia but have been travelling for last 12months! I’m currently in NYC at moment and loving it!
DF- What did you want to become when you were little?
Fiona Maclean- I wanted to be a fashion designer, Makeup artist and Artist.
DF- Could you describe a typical day?
Fiona Maclean- Get up, go for run, meditate (most days), write down what I’m grateful for, breakfast! Then check emails, social media eg Instagram, Facebook and so on to drum up interest, posting to social media, feature my latest works etc. Make the morning more about administrative type stuff. If I have time I will do some quick sketches but most of time its more about networking contacting potential ways of promoting myself e.g. Magazine exposure, online blogs doing expose on me, etc. Then lunchtime take a class of some sort, like yoga or go out and about to mix with people! The afternoon is normally spent coming up with new ideas, working on several paintings at a time. Updating my website, or the online gallery that has my art for sale. Recently have been working on combining some of my traditional hand drawn or paintings with digital medium such as photoshop experimenting and developing. Depending on how I’m going with the day and what I’ve accomplished I will if time allows get out and go see a local gallery or catch up with a friend or go to sometimes in evening to attend a life drawing drop in class to brush up on skills! By that stage it’s the evening!
DF- What are three words that describe your work?
Fiona Maclean- Intriguing, Sensual, Beautiful
DF- How did you get into illustration/painting?
Fiona Maclean- I have been painting since I was a kid but seriously painting only the last few years. With illustration I have done this on and off over the last 15 years.
DF-Which 3 words describe your work?
Fiona Maclean- Intriguing, Sensual, Beautiful
DF-When did you realize you wanted to become an illustrator/painter?
Fiona Maclean- As a child I excelled at Art and gained awards for it and more importantly enjoyed it. Already making portraits for friends and family but I guess it wasn’t until I was around 20 or 21 I decided this is what I want to do.
DF- How long have you been an illustrator/painter?
Fiona Maclean- Since I was a kid so a while!! But professionally I started out doing Freelance Fashion and Beauty illustration around 15 years ago and my painting career a similar time but that was interrupted by a family tragedy so painting career was reignited 6 years ago.
DF-How did you get your first illustration/painter job?
Fiona Maclean- Perseverance! Persistence! I contacted magazines art directors until I got a yes! And then started to build my portfolio and profile. My painting career really was later on and selling my first painting came through my personal website.
DF- Did you study illustration/art in college? And if so, is studying llustration/art in college worth the cost or do you recommend an alternative?
Fiona Maclean- I am mostly self-taught. I did go to Parsons School of Art (The New School) studying Fine Art but as mentioned before I had a family tragedy, which meant I wasn’t able to continue my studies. I know the cost of Art schools are costly however they are a good platform for exposure and possibly propelling you onto a stage that you wouldn’t have access to if you weren’t going to art school. But with things such as e.g. Instagram and other social media allowing almost anyone to be possibly ‘seen’ and ‘discovered’.
DF-Where should a person start if they want to pursue a career in illustration/painting?
Fiona Maclean- Try/apply to get into Art school (its not essential but I think it does help). There are still plenty of people who are successful who are self taught! The two are a little different in approach. But generally with both painting and illustration you need to build a body of work that you are proud of and prepared to show to the world and to critics/art directors/ potential agents/galleries /clients etc. Then you need platforms such as social media, instagram, pinterest, facebook etc. And maybe a website (not essential), but certainly somewhere you can direct people to view your work when pursuing possible representation etc. I don’t know that many places these days that would accept physical portfolios!
DF-What helps you to be more creative?
Fiona Maclean- I need some basics that keep me ‘happy and ready to create, and those are Music, visual inspiration, loads of natural light, (ideally sunshine!) and a space that I can ‘step into’ ideally a studio or a room in my apartment or house that I can call my creative domain. Allow myself to make mistakes, explore and try not to be critical while in the process of creating. On a physical level I need each day to do my physical workouts, yoga, meditation…keeps me a happier person.
DF- What has been your favorite assignment so far? And your biggest?
Fiona Maclean- So far that is yet to come! I’m still new to everything considering my career was put on hold. I guess in retrospect, some of the commissions I have completed for clients, such as a portrait for a gentleman who wanted a portrait of his wife. Which was amazing to hear that he loved the painting and they have it hung in their residence.
DF- Do you think an illustrator/painter needs a style? Why? Do you have tips on developing an illustration/painter style?
Fiona Maclean- Yes I do think both an Illustrator and Painter need to find a style so you can easily identify that that is ‘so and so’ illustrator or painter. For clients / art collectors I think that they want consistency without being staid. For an Illustrator you are given a brief from a client so they have hired you based on what they saw examples of your work. At the same time you need to be relevant! So you cant keep doing the same thing for years and years if there is not as much interest or the market has changed. Also with illustration especially it is starting to become a little homogenized so its always good to have your own style. Developing an Illustration or Painter style evolves over time and there is no magic formula for that except all I can say is be authentic and be who you are and somehow a style evolves.
DF- Who are some of your favorite illustrators/painter and why?
Fiona Maclean- Illustrators – Antonio Lopez and David Downton, Samantha Hahn, Richard Haines
Painters – Toulouse Lautrec, Degas, Andy Warhol, Marlene Dumas, Elizabeth Peyton.
DF- Do you make everything by hand or do you use a special editing program?
Fiona Maclean- With my paintings I usually work in oil on canvas and with my paintings on paper watercolour on paper. Recently I started to combine some of my drawings/watercolour paintings with a little bit of photoshop applications giving it almost a collage effect. When I started out with Illustration a few years ago I did use photoshop and Illustrator a lot and much more so than I do now. I prefer the physical aspect of painting or drawing.
DF- What’s the hardest part of your job?
Fiona Maclean- Keeping the faith! Keeping positive in times for eg if you havent sold a painting in a while or had an illustration job in a while. And of course working as an Artist is a solitary job so you have to have a lot of discipline and have strategies to deal with this.
DF- What is your working environment like?
Fiona Maclean- At the moment I am a bit of a gypsy so moving around and travelling but recently I had the privilege of an amazing studio space with great natural light, right in the heart of Manhattan! Things that are essential and that I have to have is a desk of some sort or bench to work from, an easel, music, iPad, laptop, and a camera.
DF- Top 5 of your favorite things?
Fiona Maclean- Music, Fashion, the Ocean, Art, Travel.
DF- Where do you see yourself 5 years from now? Any personal goals?
Fiona Maclean- Living and working successfully in the US either LA or NYC as an Artist somehow collaborating with Fashion and Music Industry, not only as an Artist but perhaps as a Creative Advisor/Director. Gallery and Agent representation in NYC and around the world. Helping other young Artists (particularly Female Artists) realize their potential and dreams. A spacious studio to work out of filled with natural light!
DF-What advice do you have for aspiring illustrators/painters?
Fiona Maclean- Perseverance, persistence, draw, paint every day, explore and stay true to yourself.