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The Nonsense Maker

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Day 21 – The Nonsense Maker

The Nonsense Maker are a duo (Emily May and Sidonie Moore) from Melbourne, Australia.  We speak to Emily May about her background, process and inspirations.

Are you a self taught artist, or what studies did you do to get where you are today?

My drawing style is pretty much self taught. When I was younger I studied fashion, which did have a drawing and design element to it, but my style has changed a lot since then. I have always loved drawing, but my technique really developed during the two years I lived in London. I took my sketchbook everywhere I went and initially my drawings were pretty realistic. Towards the end of my travels my drawings became more and more nonsensical, and gradually I realised the more nonsense snuck into my images, the more sense and meaning they had to me.


What tools, programs and apps do you love or cannot live without?

Fine liner pens and Photoshop are my bread and butter. Apart from those I rely a lot on social media sites like Instagram and Pinterest for inspiration. I particularly love fun interior design and vintage architecture accounts, and anything a bit out of the ordinary!


Your art provides inspirations to so many others.  What or who inspires you?

For an adult I certainly own a lot of children’s books! I am vey inspired by etching techniques by old time illustrators, in particular John Tenniel and Francis Donkin Bedford. I love the nostalgic quality and detail of their work. Australian artist Shaun Tan is another favourite of mine.


Can you describe your process including how long a piece of art or photography takes you from concept to complete?

The time I spend on a piece varies a lot depending on the size or amount of detail the goes into it, anywhere from 5 to 50 hours. The initial fine-liner illustration is the most time consuming process because I use multiple layers of crosshatching to create the form and tone. When it is finished I scan the drawing and the colour is layered digitally behind the pen-work, which gives the piece an unusual depth and vibrancy. The last step is printing, which we do ourselves in our little studio in Collingwood.


Drawing © The Nonsense MakerWhich part of your process do you love the most?

One of my favourite things about my process is that I’m never really sure where a piece is headed until it is finished. I will start drawing with a vague concept in mind, and before I know it the image has wandered off and taken on a life of it’s own.


If you weren’t an artist, what do you think you would be doing for work?

I have always loved history, so research is most likely the path I would have gone down if I wasn’t an artist.  I am fascinated by the way the actions of people so long ago have had such a profound impact on the world we live in today. History books are also a huge source of inspiration for many of my artworks.


Who is the most fascinating or inspiring person you have met or worked with?

Working in a creative field I am lucky to meet many inspirational people in my daily life. I really admire the ambition and strength of all the independent artists who are following their passions and doing what they love. We also have some wonderfully supportive stockists, including Kara and Nick from Forman Art and Framing in Burwood. They have been with me since the start and have really grown my confidence and inspired me to come as far as I have.


Name an underrated artist (if you know one)?

I love the work of Mirka Mora. Although she is already quite a famous Australian artist, I think she should be a household name. You can really feel the spirit and emotion that has gone into her paintings, and her use of colour is wonderful! I actually had the good fortune to meet her briefly last year, it was very inspiring!


Which artwork of yours are you most proud of?  

Tales of a Tightrope Walker is a series I did a few years ago of a little girl who slips from a tightrope, helplessly growing older as she falls. Having recently returned home from living in London, these illustrations are special because they symbolise the self-reflection I was experiencing at the time. They also marked a turning point for my illustration career, featuring in my very first exhibition.


What’s next in the professional pipe works for you?

I am working on a new range of illustrations at the moment which play on slight peculiarities in everyday settings. They are still in the early stages, but I am excited to see which direction they take.


Bonus fun question

If you could tame any animal and have it as a pet, which one would it be and why?

Although very unpractical, If I could have any pet it would definitely be a whale! They are such peaceful and majestic creatures, I think it would be a very calming presence in my life.


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Portrait © The Nonsense Maker

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