Meet Isabella Maria, a local artist with a talent for celebrating flora, fauna, and females through striking illustrations with a touch of quirk.
Exploring form, line and texture, Isabella creates eye-catching designs that you can’t help but admire. Her unusual pairing of feminine and dainty patterns with macabre and heavy images exemplifies femininity, the natural world and personal experience. Her distinct style is a total treat on the eyes, and each layer of ink highlights the intricacy of her pensive pattern-play and celebrates the beauty of a greyscale aesthetic.
Since completing a Bachelor of Visual Arts at UniSA, Isabella has established herself as one of Adelaide’s rising artists, with her work featuring at RAW: Verve and at Semaphore’s local gallery, Add Character.
How do you describe the style of your work?
My style is illustration-based, inspired by tattoo artwork, line work and building up lines to create images. I’ve recently started working with colour as well, but usually my work is pretty minimal with colour and my drawings can get quite detailed, especially with things in black and white. I like to create things that are quite beautiful and pretty and then throw something in that’s quite macabre and dark. I like to use contrasting imagery that complements each other.
Your artwork celebrates femininity, flora and fauna. What is it about the natural world that you find so inspiring?
I find it inspiring because you can draw connections between nature and human form. Females are often compared to flowers and I like drawing the connections between the two and using them in my work together. From a young age I’ve always personified flowers and animals and that’s why I like to include both in my work and show a relationship between them. In a lot of my drawings there’s a female and an animal together in some way.
I do like to represent females in certain ways, especially now there’s so much about being a feminist and what that means. I like to illustrate how I see females, and I do see them as beautiful and powerful and I try to represent that in my work.
What are some quirky projects you’ve worked on?
I loved my graduate exhibition for uni, where I worked on something quite different. I specialised in print-making and my final project was made of screen prints, which were on fabric that I hand stitched. I really enjoyed that project because even though there were feminine figures and portraiture, it was more about mental illness and schizophrenia, which is somewhat personal to me because I had a family member who went through that. It was nice to be able to refer to that and display that in my work.
Your work extends from drawings and prints to home décor such as macramé and more. Can you tell us about your motivation behind extending and diversifying your range?
I started to create macramé in my final year of uni because I was working with fabrics for screen printing but because my work is so heavily built on line work I wanted to try that in a different medium. In macramé and hand stitching you can create that type of work. Also, in some of my drawings I had included mandalas and dream catchers and other repeated patterns and so macramé was a really good medium to do that in a more physical way. It’s so time consuming, but it really is a lot of fun.
Can you talk us through your creative process?
My process is kind of random I suppose, in that it usually just starts with “I want to draw this today” and then it builds from there in terms of what I’m thinking about. I always listen to music while I’m drawing and all of the titles of my work are song lyrics. It usually starts with some initial sketches and then I start to draw different ideas that stem from that. I think I work backwards in a way. I start drawing and then I come up with the concept afterwards.
You say that your creative process is often random with no set outcome in mind. Do you find it more or less rewarding when something amazing happens by chance?
I think it’s much more rewarding because it feels a lot more natural rather than having something so planned out or rushed under a deadline. I think I have a lot more freedom this way and ideas just happen, rather than my work being forces and constricted.
Your artwork is currently adorning the walls of Add Character at Semaphore. What is the most rewarding thing about seeing your work in a physical shop?
I’ve sold my work before at the university markets, online (I had an Etsy page), and also through my Facebook page (people often contact me for commission work) but Add Character is the first physical store I’ve sold my work in.
I think the most rewarding thing is that I do feel a big sense of pride. It’s really nice to be able to see my work there and to be able to sell it to people who relate to it on some level, especially in Add Character because they have a lot of amazing prints so it’s nice to be amongst other artists’ work.
With that said, where would you most like to see your work featured?
I think I’d like to stay local. I’d love to feature in local gift stores and homeware stores, but I also wouldn’t mind travelling one day to be at the Melbourne markets. I’d love to be in a local gallery like Forman or Peanut Gallery that have similar work.
What upcoming creative projects can we look forward to seeing from you?
I’ve been working on commission pieces for small businesses. I’m working on one at the moment that is a kids clothing line and my client wants me to draw a sparrow to be put on t-shirts and to also maybe use as her logo. I’m also working on some more prints and gift cards for Add Character.