Miranda Lorikeet of Lazy Bones Illustrations Discusses Inspiration and the Fun Challenges of MS Paint

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FC: You create all of your work in MS paint, what made you want to explore this medium so extensively?

ML: A few years ago I wanted to start making digital art but didn't know how. I didn't have access to programs like Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator and they seemed too fiddly and expensive. Not my style. I wanted something more basic. I'd just started a new job and saw that MS Paint was on my computer so I started doodling with it. It felt good revisiting it as an adult, I used it a lot when I was a kid. It was partly a nostalgia thing, but also it was so simple and easy to use. People place a lot of importance on the software you use when you're making digital art. I like using MS Paint because I want to show people it's not about the tools you have but how you use them. Anyone with a computer from 1989 up until now would have used MS Paint. There's something comforting knowing that everyone has access to MS Paint.

FC: Do you ever find the limitations of MS paint challenging? What do you think the importance of design software is in relation to skill as an artist? Would you say using paint has made you a better artist?

ML: Of course! But the challenge is all part of the fun. MS Paint has pushed me to make the most of the tools I have. It's forced me think outside the box. The brushes in MS Paint are very limited and there's no right or a wrong way to use them. Unlike professional design software there is no tutorial on how to use it. You just have to fumble your way through it and come up with your own way to use the program. I think there's far too much importance placed on which design software  and your skill should shine through no matter what tools you use. I've been using MS Paint for so long now that it would feel like cheating if I were to switch to a more professional program. Anyone can make a pretty picture in Photoshop but not everyone can draw with MS Paint. I don't know if it's made me a better artist but it's definitely given me room to explore the creative process.

FC: Describe your creative process.

ML: Ideas never come to me when I want them to! They never come to me when I am sitting at the computer ready to draw, it's always when I'm on the train or sitting in the backyard, so I keep notes on my phone of ideas for drawings. I spend far too long decide on a colour palette. Sometimes I spend longer choosing the colours than drawing the actual image. I like to look at photos of sunsets and landscape photography to inspired me. Then I crack open a beer and draw at the computer for hours on end in a total trance.

 

FC: What place do you think art has in our world? Why is art important in our society?

ML: Art makes people feel something, I think it's an emotional thing. It's about sharing emotions, from the artist to the person viewing the art. It's about connecting and finding a common ground, relating to one another by using colours and patterns and shapes. Art is an outlet and a tool for people to use however they please. 

FC: Was there a pivotal moment in your life that made you want to be an artist?

ML: Not really, this is what I always planned on doing. There was no back up plan. I told my mum and dad I wanted to be an artist when I was 5 years old. My mum was an artist so I think I wanted to be just like her. She was a huge artistic influence throughout my childhood and still is today.

FC: How do you get inspired when you’re dealing with creative blocks? What are your methods for staying fresh & creative when you feel stuck with your work?

ML: I put on a record, have a drink and play around with different colour palettes. Go outside and wander around for a bit, read some design blogs. Sometimes I think I'm heading into a bit of a stale patch with my artwork but new ideas always come along because things around me are always changing, you've just gotta pay attention. 

 

FC: One of the most complex aspects of art & design is it’s subjective nature. Despite that subjective nature, there is still a subtle distinction between “good” & “bad” art when it’s measured by commercial success. What are your thoughts on what makes some art "good" and some art 'bad"?

ML: The only art that I think counts as 'bad' art is 'fake art' - when art looks like it's trying to fit into a certain box or fit in with a current trend. You can tell when someone isn't creating from the heart because it comes out contrived, forced, too calculated. I think it's important to make art that you enjoy, not just because it's what everyone else is doing. Don't paint a fruit bowl because fruit bowls are cool right now. If you use colours and themes that are relevant to your life your art will be more 'real'. At least that's what I think.

FC: If someone wanted to purchase your art, where would they find it? 

ML: I sell prints, framed prints and big canvas prints on Society6.com/mirandalorikeet!

Artist Feature: Jeanine Brito, Art Director @ SophOmore Magazine

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FC: How did your get started in the world of design?

JB: I’ve been drawing since I could hold a crayon on my own. Once I became old enough for teen magazines - I was very dedicated to Girl’s Life, Seventeen and CosmoGirl - I started toying with the idea of making my own. For my 12th birthday party each attendee was tasked with creating or writing something that would go in a magazine. I then designed and printed the magazine, delivering it to the guests a few weeks later. At 13 I started an online magazine for girls in their early teens, and when I grew out of that I started another one in high school. Then it came time to think about university, and I decided on a Bachelor of Design in Fashion Communication at Ryerson University. Ryerson really solidified my love for design and typography.

Over a year ago I was approached by Kiersten Hay and Stephanie Rotz about a project they wanted to start. It was this wild idea to create a feminist fashion magazine, and they were looking for someone who could oversee art direction. From there we created Sophomore, which I like to introduce as a feminist fashion magazine that challenges and dissects concepts of gender, race, sexuality, and other aspects of identity within the context of fashion and pop culture at large.

FC: Describe your creative process, what kind of mediums do you like to use?

JB: One of the most valuable things I learned in design school was a respect for the process. The first idea is rarely the best, and exploration is what challenges you to come up with new and interesting ideas. My creative process varies from project to project (especially depending on the final outcome, like if it’s an illustration vs print project vs digital), but it always starts on paper. Sketching or writing out initial ideas forces me to work more slowly than a computer, where the results are more immediate. I also like to think about how my work can fit in a feminist framework - like how I can be subversive with colours or express different theories within images. For a print or digital project, my next step is to move on the computer and start piecing together references and some basic identity concepts, like colours and typography. This gets refined in Illustrator until I have something interesting, and I think it’s useful to loop in other people. Maybe they’re stakeholders in the project or just other designers whose opinion I value. I try to never delete or work over process stuff, so my artboards are usually covered in a million different ideas and stages.

FC: How do you get inspired? Are there certain people or places that influence you?

JB: I follow some very interesting young creatives on Instagram who are pursuing their own projects and businesses. Seeing their incredible work and watching them succeed as entrepreneurs is very motivating and inspiring. I’m a big believer in shine theory - instead of feeling jealous or measuring my own successes against those of other women, I try to befriend them. We all shine brighter together when we’re lifting each other up. Some of my biggest inspirations are @itsmaryyoung, @avesbaby, @ewaltez, @from_syd, the women at @kastorandpollux, @randomactsofpastel, and of course all of my babes at @wearesophomore. It’s so cool to watch these women (and their businesses) grow.

FC: One of the most complex aspects of art & design is it's subjective nature. Despite that subjective nature, there is still a subtle distinction between "good" & "bad" art when it's measured by commercial success. What are your thoughts on what makes some art work and some art not work?

JB: I don’t think I fully have the answer to this yet, but I know in my own work I do best when there’s a reason to my design choices. My work is at its best when it’s deliberate and I can articulate the thought process behind it.

FC: Clients in the world of art & design can be at times difficult, how do you deal with a client that has an unclear vision? What can be done to help the client understand their own needs?

JB: A lot of times a client with an unclear vision just means they’re excited about a lot of different ideas. If they don’t have a design background, they might not have the tools to narrow down their vision or articulate what they want. In my experience, it helps to have an honest conversation and look at a number of different references together. I usually ask clients to bring a bunch of examples to a meeting, and then together we work out what it is about each example that they particularly like. Eventually we realize there’s a pattern - certain colours they are drawn to, or type systems that they like. From there it’s much easier to agree on a direction that we’re both excited about.

FC: What place do you think art has in our world? Why is art important in our society?

JB: Expression is such an intrinsic part of being human, and I think art (including visual, music, written, etc) can be the most raw form of that- when you’re creating for yourself and not for a client or whatever. We operate in a capitalist system, which means most of the time beautiful things are created to sell products. That doesn’t mean they’re necessarily stripped of meaning - the movement toward social enterprise is a really interesting shift - but art is at its most honest when it’s created without the sale in mind. I’ve kind of gone off on a tangent here, but I guess to me art is about truthfulness.

FC: How has your style changed over the years? How have you grown as an artist? Are there particular moments throughout your career that you recall being pivotal moments of growth for you?

JB: I did an exchange in Amsterdam during my third year at school, and that was such an eye opening experience for me. The project for the semester was to create a concept for a fashion magazine, and as a group we decided to deliberately go against the trend of minimalism and deliver something wild and excessive. It was a fun way to figure out what my style was. It was the first time I’d stepped out of the comfort of minimalism. When you’re a young designer I think it can be very easy to declare yourself a minimalist and then you don’t necessarily have to deal with colour or more expressive layouts, which can be a bit scary at first. I definitely fell into that, but going to Amsterdam forced me to explore myself as a designer and creative thinker. Not to discredit minimalism, which I think can be interesting and powerful.


FC: What advice would you give yourself 5 years ago?

JB: Five years ago I was just applying to school. I’m not sure I would tell myself to do anything differently, as I’m very thankful for the experiences I’ve had and how they’ve influenced me as a person. Although I definitely would teach myself about intersectional feminism, which is something I only became conscious of in my second year of school. Since I can’t go back in time, I do the next best thing and have conversations about feminism with my younger sister and other women in my life, and allow feminism to significantly influence how I think about design.