We take some time to chat with local collage-art artist, Madbutt, about her work, the art community, Lana Del Rey, and what’s next.
The art of Madbutt (@Madbutt on Instagram) stimulates so many different feelings for me – I feel empowered, stimulated, whimsical, cheeky, and curious, all at once. As a collage artist, Madbutt explores the ways she can evoke feelings in the viewer, often using surprising and unexpected combinations.
Her work often features an underlying theme of female empowerment, and encouraging “respect and love for one another and most of all, the Earth.” By juxtaposing seemingly conflicting imagery (such as war-torn backdrops with Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz), Madbutt can challenge the viewer to reconsider what they think they know. She has created pieces as tools to challenge human and social rights issues, including the Syrian war, damage to The Great Barrier Reef, and Female Genital Mutilation: “I think I like to use my social media and exhibitions as a platform to highlight the turmoil that I believe can be resolved in my lifetime.”
With her work recently being singled out by Lana Del Ray and with her upcoming feature in the all-female Sydney exhibition La Puissance in June this year, it will be exciting to see what is next for Madbutt and the greater art-collage community: “I would love for there to be a wider understanding within the community that collage is not just something you do in kindergarten, but that it is a style of art that is reusing and recycling materials to sometimes highlight a larger idea and concept.”
Read on for the full interview!
What inspires you about Brisbane culture? What would be your favorite place in Brisbane?
There is a vibrant underground art scene in Brisbane, however the difficulty that I’ve seen for new contemporary artists is being able to get adequate exhibition space that is both affordable and accessible to the public. There has been an influx of young artists which has lead to some new amazing exhibition spaces such Culprit Club in the Fortitude Valley and 7 Tate Gallery in Albion. I think galleries like Culprit Club and 7 Tate really open up opportunities for new contemporary artists to share their work.
What emotions do you want your collages to convey? Do you want your collages to tell us something?
I want my collages to be like when you read a book and you forget where you are for a moment. I really encourage the viewers to make their own assumptions about what the collage is depicting. Generally, there is an underlying theme of empowering women, whether it be in a galaxy or an urban jungle. I like to use women from times of oppression such as post-World War II and pre-feminist movement. I also try to encourage the thought, respect and love for one another and most of all the Earth.
There is so much turmoil in the world. With the use of socials media and broadcasting making everything so available, do you find that those images influence you?
I believe that as a society we know nothing about what is actually happening in the world. Socrates once said “True knowledge is knowing you know nothing” and I am constantly going through the news and researching certain human and social rights issues. In the past I have used imagery from the Syrian war by doing a juxtaposition with Dorothy from Wizard of Oz titled “Where Not In Kansas Anymore”. I have also done works that were featured in my solo exhibition last year focusing on the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef to highlight the importance of nature and taking care of our Earth. In June I am apart of a Sydney exhibition and my works are focusing on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) a social issue that needs to be discussed more often to protect young Australian women. I think in a way I like to use my social media and exhibitions as a platform to highlight the turmoil that I believe can be resolved in my lifetime.
What artists inspire you?
Henri Matisse and Dash Snow are my two favorite collage artists. I really appreciate Matisse’s use of vibrant colours with geometric shapes. I’ve loved Dash Snow since I was in high school; his use of words from newspaper clippings has really encouraged me to be more dynamic with my material and how I use it. Both of these artists have really influenced me to push the boundaries of what I can create.
How would you explain your creative process?
I really like to collect images online and in real life, one of the things I love most about New York is the flea markets! Whenever I find a great collection of vintage materials I get very excited and my imagination runs wild. I think my creative process changes a lot, but having a lot of visual stimuli definitely influences the early stages of it.
What mediums do you use? Do you use the same tools all the time, or do you often experiment with different types?
I am always searching for new mediums to use for my hand cut collages; I always try to incorporate something different! I am currently trying to find diamond dust to incorporate into my next solo exhibition works – I fell in love with this medium while creating in New York. I think switching things up is important for progress!
What sort of music do you listen to whilst working?
I enjoy all different types of music, but my go to for motivation is Revolver resident deejay Boogs hour-long mixes/podcasts on soundcloud – they are more tech house. If I can’t vibe on that (which rarely happens) I will listen to artists such as Air, Vanilla, Lana Del Rey, Ta-ku, Aaliyah, Deejay Hotline, Burial, The Chemical Brothers, Digitalism, RJD2, Biggie Smalls, Drake, Beyonce, Anderson .paak and Santigold. I guess you could say anything between chill vibes to RnB!
How did it feel when you sold your first piece?
The first collage I sold was a hand cut collage for Michael Stevens, a well-known YouTuber (VSauce). He was so pleased with the collage that he later commissioned two more works for his wife as a wedding present. I was recently watching his new show ‘Mind Field’ and it was really spectacular remembering that he was the first person to buy one of my works.
How did it feel to have Lana Del Rey repost one of your artworks? Did any big changes happen after that?
I had just gotten back from NYC, I was very jetlagged and tired from Fashion Week but it was such an amazing moment when I saw my work on her page because I love Lana Del Rey so much – she has such impeccable taste! Seeing my collage on her Instagram made me feel so proud, all my hard work had finally paid off. Since then I have been asked to do more private commissions for collectors in London, NYC and LA plus some work for international brands and recording artists which is really exciting!
What direction would you like to see the art of collaging go in?
I would love for there to be a wider understanding within the community that collage is not just something you do in kindergarten but that it is a style of art that is reusing and recycling materials to sometimes highlight a larger idea and concept. I think there are lots of gorgeous collage works out there at the moment but it’s the collage works that have an underlying meaning that could really change how it is perceived.
If you weren’t an artist, what would you be doing?
I think that I’ve always been creative and wanted to do something like this. I’ve tried and studied a whole different array of different things but I would definitely love to give veterinary nursing another go. I love animals.
What’s next for you?
I am traveling back to NYC to collect some more vintage materials and meet with clients about commissions. Then when I get back I am in an all female group exhibition in Sydney titled “La Puissance”, this is really exciting as it’s my first exhibition there! Having said that, I am most excited about the exhibitions I have coming up in Brisbane the first week of August. I am apart of the RAW Artists showcase
“NEXT” on Thursday the 3rd at The Met and then I am donating work for a charity exhibition on Saturday the 5th at The Loft in West End. I’d love to see you all there!
Please note: This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Feature Image: @madbutt