Printmaking is a coming together of many of Ellie Malin’s interests. She’s been a keen observer of architecture as well as nature and how we move through these environments. “I’m fascinated with the impact and importance they have on our lives and had this idea that if I could translate the beauty and vulnerabilities that captured me and communicate them back to others, that would be the ultimate challenge,” Ellie says. Besides, she really enjoys the hands-on physicality of the process - carving and cutting into wood, mixing coloured inks, working with printing presses, as well as moving through various sections of a workshop. “Printmaking is a great analogy to life,” she says. “Things don’t always go to plan, but it’s good to be prepared and have direction, enjoy the process, try something new, keep it simple - mistakes happen; embrace them.”
In 2007 Ellie graduated from Monash University with a degree in Fine Art, majoring in print-making, but initially worked in non-related fields. After a couple of years she felt the pull to return to a regular creative practice. “Even after dedicating years of study and completing diplomas and degrees, it took some time to take a leap of faith and set up studio as a full-time practice,” she says. “Choosing to follow this path is the best and hardest thing I’ve ever done, but once the decision was made it became a lot easier.”
Since then Ellie has created designs for Gorman and exhibited at Modern Times, as well as receiving a two-month residency at Megalo workshop in Canberra. “Turning art into a career required me to examine my values and belief systems,” she says. “I surrounded myself with good mentors; focused on realistic goals - and also thought about those more out-there ideas; I set a discipline, establishing a structured schedule meant that I was less likely to be side-tracked putting the work out through exhibitions, awards, local stores… even though it felt awkward to start off with.” These experiences have helped her confidence and contributed to her growth as an artist, she says.
Which five words best describe you? I’m an introverted communicator who is playful, intuitive and creative.
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? In 2010 I enrolled in a small business course and skilled up on how to write a business plan, bookkeeping and general admin. I then set aside 12 months to set up a studio practice and to “see how things went”. I said yes to every project and opportunity that came my way and it gathered momentum fairly organically from then on - not without a lot of work.
I continue to plan and visualise the kind of projects I’d like to pursue. I carefully consider each and every opportunity that comes my way. It’s incredibly difficult to say no at times, especially now that the focus has shifted to starting a family and becoming a parent - in a matter of weeks - whilst also continuing to balance a career in art. Accepting that there will be a change in how and when I create work, but also I’m excited to think that our family and work life will somehow meld naturally as my husband and I identify ourselves through our respective creative practices, but are also incredibly close to family. It will be interesting to see how it all evolves.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? As much as artists and creatives may be thought of as being loose, free or aloof, I think it’s really important to be disciplined as with any job. There are days where I don’t feel in the “mood” to create, but having a routine and just going into the studio can be rewarding. Sometimes it’s just a matter of minutes to shake off that feeling and before you know you’re in that state of flow. I’m not sure if this is a lesson, but it’s definitely something I learned about myself and that’s to strive to create good work and for it to be meaningful.
What’s your proudest career achievement? I’m proud of the fact that I get to do what I love and develop and grow as an artist. It’s particularly humbling when I see people enjoying the artwork in their homes and work spaces.
What’s been your best decision? Giving myself time. It takes time to hone skills, to build confidence, to find direction, to experiment with ideas and to keep creating regardless of the successes and failures.
Who inspires you? I’m inspired by the everyday: streets I walk in, people I meet, design, architecture, travels, plus a good dose of daydreaming. With the current events gripping our world and reflecting on parenthood I’ve been enthralled by learning about the lives of my grandparents who came to Melbourne with their young families despite all odds to provide a better life and am incredibly inspired by their hard work, pride and joy for life they instilled in the family. From an art perspective, and in no particular order, I’m inspired by the work of KiKi Smith, Andy Warhol - can’t wait to see the exhibition with Wei Wei and Warhol! - Mirka Mora, Tadao Ando, Sophie Taeuber-Arp, Yayoi Kusama, Kandinsky and Matisse.
What are you passionate about? My work, family, travelling, living healthy, and just keeping it simple.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? I’d love to hang out with Matisse. Maybe do some collages together.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? I’d love to collaborate with architects and interior designers and translate my artworks into something multi-faceted and functional. And write a book – pictures only.
What are you reading? Admittedly, my beside table consists of a mile-high pile of parenthood books. Amongst them, a charming and inspiring book Motherhood and Creativity by Rachel Power. Other books on the go include People of Print by Marcroy Smith and Andy Cooke - a survey of creative print studios from around the world, Vault magazine for all the latest and greatest in the arts and Ladislav Sutnar, Visual design in action.
images courtesy of ellie malin