Artist Spotlight: Tessa Maddock
Author: Dana McGorlick-Appelman Date Posted:9 November 2021
Introducing our very first Art Shed Artist Spotlight: Tessa Maddock!
Tessa is not only Art Shed’s Superstar Packing Supervisor but is also an Australian mixed media collage artist currently based in St Kilda. Tessa grew up in Geelong, then moved to North East Victoria, where her love of nature and being outdoors grew. Tessa described her work as retro-fem, giving outdated sexist ideals a new twist. Her work reflects the feminine energy and its harmony within nature through use of paper ephemera, colour and composition.
We chatted with Tessa about her artistic journey, her exploration of collage and abstract painting, social media, and her advice for young artists.
Art Shed Tom: Hello everyone! Welcome to the first in what will hopefully be a series of artist's interviews, which we're going to be dubbing, the Art Shed Artists Spotlights. Today, I'm joined by the very talented Tessa Maddock. In this interview, we're going to be talking to Tessa about her art practice and picking her brains about her approach to being creative. So, first, Tessa, tell us about yourself, about your background in art-making.
Tessa: Hi! I was born in Geelong and moved to Northeast Victoria and lived in the country, for a bit, had a bit of a country upbringing, and moved back to Melbourne when I was just 21, went to a TAFE in Melbourne, studied graphic design, and just have always been sort of creative and, pursued creative interests and I've sort of being mainly doing collage work, and recently exploring more abstract painting.
Art Shed Tom: That sounds awesome. How have you found your art has evolved over the years? Like where did you start and kind of, where is it now? Where is it heading now?
Tessa: I’m a bit of a perfectionist. So, for me, collage was really good to just have everything ready to go and laid out. You know, there's not too much room for error being messy. So, I started out with collage and paper, like with TAFE, we explored photography and illustration, all that sort of stuff. So, I've always been trying different mediums, but with collage, I just found it so nice to just have everything laid out in front. Obviously as I'm getting older and exploring more painting techniques and working at Art Shed, I've had, mediums to explore and try a bit more with that side of things. So, it's evolved definitely in exploring more of the abstract style painting and just letting go that way, not being so controlled with the paper style and collage and stuff like that.
Art Shed Tom: I suppose you kind of finding an interesting mix between those two mediums as well and the work that you're making. It's like something I kind of notice is that it's yeah, it started to evolve away from that collage technique. Maybe we could talk about that for a while because that's quite a unique facet of your creative process, I think. How does that process work as far as the collage? Where do you source the imagery from? Is there any particular types of imagery you like to use and why?
Tessa: I'm very much drawn to vintage style, vintage illustration, romance novel covers. That’s where I find a lot of the imagery that I liked that it's quite, I don't know, it's nostalgic to me. I love that style. Very female-driven romance covers. I love how they're so you know, like a damsel in distress and vulnerable. And I like just sort of changing that theme. I go shopping and look for books and any random things that I can find that inspire me. And I'm on Pinterest, there’s a lot for imagery finding inspiration there, and like old vintage books, like women's weekly magazines, like anything vintage that I can find. I just pull a lot of the images together and lay them all out and see what colours and tones sort of match up. And then I sort of find a theme and I'm very like, colour-based, I love like a monochromatic colour scheme. And if you can tell them the background here, yeah, just like to pull things together through colours and tones and textures and that sort of side of things, and then draw the theme through that.
Art Shed Tom: I liked that in your work, you use a wide colour palette, but in a really kind of selective and like polished way, this design aesthetic to it as well.
Tessa: Yeah. I think that graphic design composition background comes in, I like having everything laid out. And the composition of things is really important to me. I'm pulling it together.
Art Shed Tom: So how are you finding with the evolution of your work into, I suppose, like heading towards more abstraction and painting standalone painting without the college elements? How are you finding that process?
Tessa: It’s hard because you just sort of, I want everything to be perfect the first time around. So with abstract, it's all about like the mistakes that kind of make it, all the things that the imperfections are, things that you don't expect to happen with painting. It's like that wet flowing loose medium. So it's always changing and as it dries, it changes. And for me that you can't control that element of abstract. And that's the beauty of it, I think when you're painting. So I think just letting go and letting it naturally happen is, is, has been really good to just sort of stand back and let the process just happen. Yeah.
'Norwegian Wood', Tessa Maddock, Acrylic on Canvas, 91.4cm (W) x 91.4cm (H) x 3.8cm (D): https://bluethumb.com.au/tessa-maddock/Artwork/norwegian-wood
Art Shed Tom: Yeah. Awesome. Are there any particular colour palettes that you, that you find you like gravitate towards more than others?
Tessa: Yes. Purple and green and pink peach. I just love it. I didn't think I was super girly, but I feel like they're really soft colours that I'm always drawn to. I'm always picking up purple and green and green, especially as I just am a huge nature lover. So green is really important to me.
Art Shed Tom: What about mediums? Do you have a specific favourite medium that you're using at the moment?
Tessa: Definitely acrylic. Yeah. I love acrylic paint. I wouldn't necessarily have thought that as I started off paper on paper all the time with collage. I just found that now, I like being able to create different colours and textures in the background, and with the collage, it works really well.
Art Shed Tom: What about your brands of acrylic paints? Do you have any favourites?
Tessa: Yes. I love Jo Sonja. I think like if you're a creative person, not necessarily a painter or an artist, but you dabble in like that craft kind of style, Jo Sonja is more of a craft paint. It's really super matte finish. They've got such great colors. I love them for the painting. Some people don't like that super flat matte finish, but I do.
Art Shed Tom: The colour range is really nice and quite unique from them as well.
Tessa: Yeah. They've definitely got a lot of beautiful, softer colors. Yeah. I really love the range.
Art Shed Tom: Have you got a particular favourite colour nearby that we can have a look at?
Tessa: Yes. I have like all my colours, like roots here.
Art Shed Tom: Yeah. It looks like a really nice organized set-up there. There’s something fun about looking into somebody else's studio.
Tessa: I love the colour Celadon, is that how you say that? Celadon?
Art Shed Tom: That's a lovely colour. Yeah. Beautiful.
Tessa: That's so nice. And the colour Jade.
Art Shed Tom: No, I think you're right. I like those particular colours. There's not really another range that makes something similar to those greens.
Tessa: Yeah. I like all the greens, antique green and phthalo green.
Art Shed Tom: Awesome. Where do you want your art practice to go? Do you have any kind of goals in the short and medium-term for your art?
Tessa: I'm really enjoying exploring the abstract side of things and pushing and evolving and trying different techniques and different styles and mediums. I think it's important to not sort of get stuck in a rut. And if you feel like, you know, I was fighting with my collage, I was becoming very formulaic with what I was doing. So I think it's good to always keep challenging yourself and pushing yourself. And I hope I can keep doing that. And, I'm trying different styles of abstract, not necessarily just the colour exploration, it's the floral stuff that I've been doing as well, getting looser and freer with that. I'm going to start selling them and keep just pushing that direction and see how that goes.
Art Shed Tom: Yeah, no, that's great. Would be interesting to check in with you down the line and see how it's all going.
Art Shed Tom: Do you have any advice for any younger artists out there who are just getting started and are interested in your work? Are there maybe some specific techniques that you've come across that might be useful to a budding artist?
Tessa: I think don't be scared or don't let fear hold you back. That's the main overarching thing for me is just letting this stuff go and, and trying things, but, techniques, I think it experimental, like just exploring different things because, you know, one style may work to someone, might not work for someone else. So I think finding those little things that you enjoy doing, you know, and just keep trying and experimenting.
Art Shed Tom: Do you want to give us a bit of an idea about where people can find out more about your work, where they can find you online as well?
Tessa: Yes. I love Instagram. I'm an Instagrammer, I've got two accounts. My art for my collage stuff is @tessanne__, and my everyday life and abstract exploration account is @tessamaddock
Art Shed Tom: Actually, while we're on the topic of that, because I think it would be interesting to a few people because I think you've got quite a good eye for social media. Do you have any tips for artists with their Instagram profiles? I think that that is something that you're pretty strong with. You can see that in the aesthetic of your feed. Is there anything there that we could maybe, you know, pick up some pointers from you?
Tessa: I think having a good, clear plan and aesthetic of what you want to present is really important. Clear photography. I always clean my camera lens on my phone, when I'm taking photos. I think that blurry look can be a bit distracting, but yeah. I also like jumping on the trends when they come up when Instagram's pushing a feature. I think it's really important to get behind that because obviously they're going to try and push those features. For example, reels. Trying to do reels and trying to stay active and you know, not putting too much pressure on yourself to always be providing content, but just being consistent is a huge one. Have fun with it. It's fun.
Art Shed Tom: Well, thank you so much for joining me, Tessa. It's been great. A great experience for me doing our hosting our first interview of the series. And I look forward to catching up again soon.
You can find Tessa on:
(Interview transcript has been edited for clarity)