Featured Artist: Madeleine Stamer

FK talks to Madeleine Stamer who is a Melbourne based artist who was responsible for our gorgeous new Sydney Markets flyer!

Tell us about your work under art & design label ‘Little Circus Design’
My business Little Circus Design acts as an umbrella for a multitude of things. My website operates as a ‘go to’ destination that combines and promotes my prints, freelance work and projects it also links to my online shop and blog. It’s basically a mish mash of personal art, commissioned work, and my commercial endeavors.

How did you start creating and what is your background?
From a very early age my parents encouraged art, play and adventure. Times were tough with five kids to feed and bills to pay so my parents had to be budget conscious. Dad was incredibly imaginative and mum could cook and sew a treat. I became very accustomed to getting stabbed with needles as mum hand sewed our clothes. Art materials were often scarce in our household but my parents always prioritized our interests. They became well rehearsed at sweet-talking the butcher and deli staff for extra sheets of butchers paper to draw on, sometimes they received strange glares, other times a sympathetic nod. I still love to draw on butcher’s paper, particularly with textas. Since an early age I knew my future was in the arts. In the 80’s I became fascinated with the emergence of graffiti and street art, I developed many friends in the scene and loved being a part of the movement. My teenage years involved some reckless and slightly anti-social behavior but it helped fuel my creative juices and I am proud to say that I turned out relatively adjusted (contrary to what my parents thought at the time). My husband Karl is also very creative; coincidently he is a ‘retired’ graffiti writer and co-wrote Kingsway which documents Melbourne’s Old School graffiti culture. Karl has always encouraged me with my work and vice versa, we’ve been together for so long that over the years we’ve developed a complimentary interest in art and design. After graduating from secondary school I went on to study Architectural Ceramics, worked as an art technician and studied teaching. Aside from running my own business I also work part time as a primary art specialist. My life has always revolved around doing and being involved in art, one way or another. I almost became a florist many moons ago but that’s another story…

What do you love most about what you do?
I love the challenges, the freedom of working from home and the mind boggling opportunities and experiences that are available to artists within Melbourne, the rest of the country and beyond. There are so many truly amazing and inspiring creative projects happening around me that it makes my head hurt, I simply can’t process it as fast as I want to! To make a living in the arts really takes commitment, dedication, persistence and hard work. Being a parent, teaching part time and committing to my business rarely leaves any spare time but I wouldn’t have it any different. I am incredibly fortunate to be involved with The Jacky Winter Group; the other artists are my idols and Jeremy Worstman is a dream! In the studio at home I often team up with Karl who assists me with technological and Photoshop glitches (which is more often than not) 99.9% of my work is done by hand but Karl helps out with the hairy bits; he’s my shy business partner, loving dad, perfect partner and he also happens to be a Photoshop guru. Time is precious, usually the only moment I get to do my personal art or illustration is when my two young kids are sleeping. I’ve trained myself to work fast and furious. It’s a bit of a thrill to work under pressure, but I love it.

What are your favourite mediums and materials to work with?
I love using my scruffy and scrawny brushes and black ink. I paint onto beautiful handmade watercolour paper with a good supply of chocolate on the side. I find the whole process quite therapeutic and dribble worthy (see explanation below).

What is your creative process?
As soon as I have a break in the day I set up to work e.g. when the kids are napping or late in the night when I should be sleeping. My process is a little unorthodox. I rarely use lead pencil or bother using pre sketches or outlines. I work flat to avoid drips. I spread my materials out on the floor, as I tend to create large-scale work, which I eventually get professionally scanned and printed. I enjoy painting straight onto paper, if I spill ink or if my line-work goes awry then I literally go with the flow and let things naturally unfold. Basically ink spillages dictate the personality and direction of the work plus I dislike the idea of starting over and wasting precious time and materials.

What inspires you and what creative things do you surround yourself with when you work?
Family, relationships, nature, birds and life’s little mysteries inspire me. Many of my themes are personal or inspired by Mexican and European folk art or reinterpreted folk tales. I’m very nostalgic and influenced by 1970’s culture and design. I’m attracted to colour, symmetry, embellishment, shape, pattern and bold line. We currently have a studio/bedroom situation. An optimal studio session equals the gift of time (parents will understand). Once the kids settle down for their ‘siestas’ I quickly get my domestic choirs out the way, then I knuckle down to some serious work. I love tuning into sounds outside, particularly happy bird trills, the wind blowing, distant conversations even the odd hammer banging but when the kids begin to rustle I’m back to mum duty! While I’m painting I’ve been known to get into such a state of flow that I accidentally dribble on my work! Please note, this embarrassing regression only happened once or twice, I’ve never admitted it. Please try not to visualize it!

What projects have you been working on lately?
I’m gearing up to start on a new body of work, hopefully exhibit later in the year and I’m involved in ping-pong email discussions relating to new mobile designs and other little collaborations. Did I mention that I’m under pressure to make a sparkly fairy wand with my 3 year old dictator, I mean daughter? It will be a collaborative effort of course.

What are you excited about for 2010?
Throwing myself into doing new personal art and freelance work, meeting deadlines, secret projects, friends having babies, waiting for my bubba to start walking (any day now) and the launch of my hubbies new business ‘lantern printing’.



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