My desire to create nostalgia is a tremendous driving force.
Artist Maggie Hall is a self-proclaimed maximalist. In her extremely varied body of work, she continually explores new media and modes of expression, while playing with notions of kitsch, art, and everything in between. Sentimentality and nostalgia play a vital role in her pieces which are often adorned with empowering phrases or ironic commentary, while comic book heroines wielding weapons and fluorescent colours add a flamboyant, Pop Art-like touch to her oeuvre. We interviewed the artist to learn more about her artistic practice.
INTERVIEW WITH THE ARTIST
Q. Did you always want to be an artist?
A. Always. Drawing with crayons is one of my earliest memories, though I didn't gather the courage to actively pursue it as a career until my late 20's. I went years without drawing or creating anything; I was lost and very unhappy. I'm glad I finally made the connection that making art is life for me - I need to create to thrive.
Q. How has your artistic career developed over time - was it a rapid development or rather a gradual process?
A. I suppose you could say it took me a lifetime, so in a way, it was long and arduous. However, it feels like it's exploded over the last two years, which I can only assume correlates to the amount of effort, dedication, and sacrifice I put into my career.
Q. Could you describe your creative process?
A. Number one: show up every day, no matter what, even just to sweep the floor because you don't feel like doing anything else. After that, my current process revolves around a digital scrapbook on my iPad. A stash of images, memes, vintage photos, advertisements, song lyrics, lousy life advice, funny quotes, things that I've found visually striking or thought-provoking. When something jumps out, I explore it, zoom in, redraw it, break it apart and recolour it into a painting. If it's a lettered piece such as the plates, they take a bit more good fortune. I collect the plates from various vintage shops and estate sales, and they sit with me in the studio until the exact phrase lands in my mind. Sometimes it's instant, others can take months. When I find the phrase, layouts are calculated and planned and then I have a day of no coffee to paint the perfect letters.
Q. You have stated you love kitsch – how did you develop this affinity?
A. I would have to draw the connection to the spaces I occupied in my early life. Growing up, my childhood home and my relatives' homes, including my grandparents' house, the walls and shelves were adorned with a vast amount of objects. Every wall had many many pieces on them, china and display cabinets full of these kitschy treasures. They were never expensive; many were made by hand post-war and certainly didn't match, just the kind of things you amass over a lifetime of travels and inheritance. Each treasure had a story, though, and those stories were shared with me so often I could eventually remember them all. It connected me to my family and was therefore cemented into my psyche together with love and belonging. To this day, I am surrounded by my own treasures. My studio is the same as my parents' house, chock-full of things.
Q. In your opinion, is there a clearly identifiable difference between art and kitsch?
A. Ha. No, the definition of kitsch is "art, objects, or design considered to be in poor taste because of excessive garishness or sentimentality, but sometimes appreciated ironically or knowingly." For me, this IS art.
Q. Many of your work features words of encouragement that inspire action or raise awareness - do you aim to empower with your pieces?
A. Indeed, some of them are meant to empower, especially the Norman Rockwell plates with women; others are just my own social commentary on the current state of global affairs and sometimes my one-sided banter with the world.
Q. Do you draw on the legacy of any historic artistic movements?
A. If I knew and understood more about specific movements, I feel as though I could answer this better. Unfortunately, it was never something I studied or analysed; however, I'm sure they are present. On the shoulders of giants and all.
Q. What would you like your work to evoke in the viewer?
A. Nostalgia, absolute joy, if even for a moment a day. This is my favourite feeling to experience, there is nothing like it, and I'm always chasing these warm moments. I think it's a mighty compelling thing to be able to invoke. I hope others enjoy it as much as I do.
Q. Recently, you have created some works that draw on the aesthetics of comics; where did your interest in this subject come from?
A. My desire to create nostalgia is a tremendous driving force, but I can't quite explain why specifically, the 'Golden Age" of comics do this for me.
Q. What would you still like to achieve as an artist?
A. World domination aside, I would like to have some international art shows in Europe, Asia, and America, where I could physically interact with the people viewing the work. This is my dream. More people, more art, more connections.
Q. Which other creatives, books, music or movies inspire you?
A. I have thought about this question a lot, and the answer is a few hundred fellow artists I follow on Instagram. Answering this question has inspired me to share more work from other creators - I will start doing this on my Instagram - you can find me @lovemaggiehall. I'll make a special highlight section for this because I think it's important to share other people's work.
Q. Could you describe your work in three words?
A. Flamboyant - Nostalgia - Porn