We sat down with Bella McGoldrick, Aussie illustrator now based in New York City. Although she was formally trained in fashion design, she took a leap into the art world all across the world.
Tell us a little bit more about yourself and how you became an artist.
I'm based in New York City and this has been my full time thing for about two years now. I studied fashion design and all throughout university, I was doing these portrait caricatures and fashion illustrations. Then they became this weird trend for girls 18th and 21st birthdays. I was able to move to NYC with that money and I continued to do them but I got a bit tired of the style and I started working different un-inspiring jobs.
Then I started to draw whatever people wanted for a hundred bucks. So if you came to me, I would draw anything - McDonald's Egg McMuffin, a squished Coke can, or whatever. Once I started doing that, people kept wanting to buy them so I was really fortunate that there was a market for it, and that I was able to figure it out.
What is your creative process?
I like to do about 6 hours of solid drawing Monday to Friday, trying to be in the studio somewhat traditional hours, keeps me feeling motivated and in routine. Most of my work is colored pencil and paper and I really enjoy working in a large format. I find by blowing up the proportions and working in a large format, I’m able to give these small objects new life and appreciation to their minor, overlooked details. It’s also about highlighting the used and weathered parts of the objects - showing the personal involvement and use of things we’ve all handled at one point, or that a certain person handled and utilized a lot. Recently, I've started painting which I love because you can have much more movement.
Photographing the subjects is maybe the most important part of the process, seeing as my style is photo realistic, the photo has to be perfect, working a lot with the highlights and shadows of the piece, to give it dimension. This is why I love old, used and somewhat trashed objects, they’re dynamic and more interesting when the light hits them the right way. I lean towards things that are tied to a certain location or time; memorabilia of sorts. Whenever traveling, I’m trying to spot yard sales or a doozy antique shop, where I can find things I’d never think to look for. Like a porcelain bust of a Hawaiian girl, from a yard sale in the middle of Idaho, that I then used for Naked Women Love Carpet. The carpet was from a pawn shop in Nevada.
How have you stayed inspired without being able to travel?
I've had a lot of changes. I mean I guess everybody has, but I've moved apartments twice since March and then I also moved into a new studio. So I've found moving into a new space was a whole new apartment to look at with things to draw. So i've been inspired in a different way.
Have there been any parallels between the art scene in Australia and in New York?
I didn't study art and I don't always know what I’m doing, I'm just kind of winging it and I’m still such an outsider. So I wasn’t really part of it at all in Melbourne, but New York has been a big influence on me, I am so inspired by it. The first series I did was largely inspired by New York, I drew these three lottery tickets that I found on the street.
Did you teach yourself how to draw?
I went to a very intensive fashion school for four years, where we only studied fashion. I was deciding whether to go to art school or fashion school and funnily enough, I decided to go to fashion school because I thought there would be more job opportunities. So I did a couple of other jobs and thought I might try selling drawings again. I would love to eventually be able to jump back into the fashion industry, whether it be some sort of collaboration or something.
Do you have a particular favorite piece that you are really proud of?
I definitely like the big pieces that I do. They take so long, about 90 to 100 hours. I start in the top left corner and then move around and by the time I finish and it meets the top, I realize I've gotten a lot better than when I started. But I think that 'Downtown and Dirty' is really cool. It's just very different compared to other things that I’ve seen. Another one that I was thinking about was the crystal glass with an orange. I like that one a lot and I would like to have it in my house too.
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Bella is based in NYC and currently is available for commission work Check out more of her work on her site or follow along on Instagram.