Millie McCallum produces striking, flamboyant linocuts, screen prints and paintings. She will be showing her work at the Palace Art and Craft Fair.
At what age did you know you wanted to become an artist?When I was about 15 I think. I had a great art teacher called Mr Baby. Apart from always painting and drawing on my bedroom walls/bikes/desks/arms I did a foundation course at Chelsea School or Art and Design and studied Fine Art at Newcastle University. Now I take courses, mostly in printing.
Is being an artist your only job?
I gave up working part time in an art shop recently to be a full time artist.
If you could be anything else what would you be?
I wanted to be a set designer and I still hope to be a surface designer otherwise I’d like to be a midwife!
One favourite living artist / designer?
She’s my friend but the artist; The Gurley (aka Kyra) is amazing. She’s the hardest working artist I know and an eternal optimist, very inspiring.
One favourite historical artist / designer?
Josef Frank’s designs are pretty wonderful. They are still being produced. I’d have a house full of his wallpaper if I could.
Who / what has had most influence on your work?
I think I’ve learnt most about printing from Edward Bawden. I love design and pattern and his work, apart from showing someone who loved drawing and experimenting, incorporates technical brilliance with eccentric, folksy imagery that inspires me. I always draw and take photographs from museum specimens so the idea of museum display (drawers full of iridescent insects laid out like a pattern for instance) affects me. Tribal patterns, face paint, carpets, Islamic tiles, murals, origami, Audubon. Birds are a constant fascination and the distinction between art and decoration is always on my mind.
What is the most interesting / fun job you have had?
Driving over a six foot gorilla print to see what happens is brilliant. Being allowed into the vaults of a taxidermy museum and finding pre-stuffed, folded flamingos in drawers. It’s not so much the jobs that are fun as the messing around everyday seeing what works.
What is your most prized item of art / design / craft?
At a car boot sale I found some really interesting prints and drawings, part of someone’s degree show project from 1968. It was raining and I panic bought but I got some amazing experimental screen prints, all part of a sketchbook. I had a couple framed and every time I pass them I think how cool they are and that I got such a bargain. Also it validates my constant traipsing round car boot sales!
What item of art / design do you covet most?
I would like a Anna-Wili Highfield paper sculpture. They are so delicate and beautiful. I love the owls particularly.
Last book / film that blew your mind?
I really loved the film, ‘A Royal Affair’
What are you listening to?
I listen to Desert Island Discs or podcasts.
How many hours do you waste on the internet each day?
I spend far too much time on the Internet. I shouldn’t take my computer to the studio.
If you could live anywhere, where would it be?
I think I might need a few houses. I’d spend summer here. I live in London now but perhaps I’d have a cottage on the south coast with a big sheltered garden and a conservatory / greenhouse-type studio. In the winter I’d go to somewhere like Vietnam where the food is amazing and it’s hot. I’d have an apartment in the city and have a beach hut. From there I’d take regular trips around South East Asia, India and Sri Lanka on research trips. Having said all that I am from Yorkshire so I might need a little place up there when I felt home sick!
Where and what is your studio?
I share a studio in South West London with a designer friend. It’s an ex pizza delivery company’s kitchen.
Three words that describe your feeling of doing your work?
Exciting, fulfilling and infuriating.
Chips or mash?