“My paintings are probably the only part of my life where I go wild with colour. I can let out all the hidden colours inside me by painting.”
Nina Mayrberger is an Austrian artist based in Vienna. As a child, Nina liked to draw and craft in her free time. Her love for the arts ultimately led her to be an art director. Along the way, she discovered her interest in painting but specifically figurative paintings.
Eventually, Nina developed a striking visual style that uses a lot of bright colours and is usually symbolistic. She often employs sky and clouds as the backdrop of her paintings as she sees them as the best live paintings. She believes that the artistic interpretation of any artwork is personal and therefore always wishes her viewers to develop their own understanding of each work.
Q. As a child, what kind of art and craft interested you the most?
Drawing and modelling clay has always been my medium of choice. I might have dabbled in the art of watercolour a few times as a child, but the convenience of just having to take a pencil and a drawing pad with me wherever I went won over the inconvenience of watercolour equipment.
Q. How did your graphic design education and career contribute to your artistic development later in life?
During my graphic design education at college, we had this painting class about creating a harmonious composition once a week. It was called “Darstellung und Komposition” which means depiction and composition. Even though it was an acrylic painting class, it was supposed to primarily train our eyes and teach us all about a unified framework to later apply to our graphic design work.
It definitely feels like there’s a strong correlation between the two fields. I got better at graphic design when I started painting, and I get better at painting whenever I overcome a challenging task at work.
Q. Was there a pivotal moment in your artistic practice?
When I was 8, my older cousin told me that in order to become an illustrator for Disney (my dream job then), I would have to draw picture-perfect portraits of people by the age of 9. Of course, I believed my cousin as he was two years older than me, and therefore much wiser. So I dedicated every free minute of my time to drawing. Eventually, I grew out of my wish to work for Disney, but my drawing skills improved, and I kept going.
Now, whenever I’m stuck in a project, I think back to that 8-year-old girl and her total dedication, reminding myself that the journey is the reward.
Q. Your artworks are very bold and striking. Could you explain your preference for such a contrasting visual style? And what would you like to bring across with that?
90% of the clothes in my closet are black. My home is all “neutral” and muted colours. My paintings are probably the only part of my life where I go wild with colour. I can let out all the hidden colours inside me by painting.
Q. You mentioned that clouds are a common element in your work. Could you share your fascination with clouds?
I get inspired by art, and what are clouds if they are not a painting in the sky? And the best part about it: they are ever-changing and free to enjoy for everyone. All you have to do is to look up.
Q. Could you describe the artistic process of creating each artwork?
I’m afraid it’s boringly simple: an idea comes to mind – I sketch it – I paint it. I find that I’m most creative and come up with new projects while creating something else. My creativity is only fueled by more creativity.
Q. You said you want the viewers to interpret each artwork themselves. Could you elaborate further on this goal and your approach to achieving it?
I feel like art is more fun this way. I could, of course, tell you what each artwork is about for me, but I think art isn’t only about the creativity of the artist, but also about the creativity of the viewer. In my mind, there’s no right or wrong interpretation of an artwork. A painting can have as many meanings as the number of people looking at it.
Q. Have you played with and tried different artistic techniques in your paintings? Were there any discoveries along the way?
I only started oil painting about 1.5 years ago, so to be honest, every new painting feels like I’m using a different technique. I started out painting with acrylics, which I soon found out wasn’t the right medium for me. So now, whenever I start a new project, I’m still in awe of all the possibilities oil paint holds for me.
Q. Are you also inspired by any other creative or artistic disciplines?
I’m a bit of a movie nerd. I regularly annoy my partner by pausing every movie we watch several times to take screenshots. I later analyse these screenshots for composition, light setting, etc., and most of the time I end up drawing or painting them.
Q. Could you explain a bit more why abstract art is not your cup of tea?
I love looking at abstract art for inspiration, and I am a bit envious of anyone who can paint abstractly. I tried several times for myself, smugly thinking, “I will create the abstract masterpiece of the century - how hard can it be” – turns out it’s really, really hard. Needless to say, I never came up with a masterpiece, I didn’t even come up with anything remotely good. I might try again in the future, but for now, I’ll stick to realism.
Q. Are there any other artistic mediums or genres you would like to try out in the future?
I’ve been thinking a lot about building tiny models and sculptures lately. I loved to play with clay as a child, and I’m interested to find out whether I’m still skilled in creating miniature creatures, still life, etc.
Q. Could you describe your work in three words?
Personal – dreamy – striking