From music to art world, here artist Elizabeth Mikellides tells her story of finding her true calling and artistic talent.
Can you tell us your backstory and how you got into the art world?
I’m a British Greek-Cypriot artist currently living in Surrey. Classically trained in the Piano, I considered a career as a Pianist before deciding on Art. Having lived in Cyprus during some of my teenage years, I received training in traditional drawing techniques on how to measure and draw the figure. These two interests eventually merged into my current practice, which I like to call ‘Drawing Music’.
I studied Drawing at Camberwell College of Art in London, and this is the point where I started experimenting with art and music. This was followed by an MA in Fine Art Media at The Slade School of Fine Art, UCL, London.
Upon completing my studies, however, I lacked the necessary business skills and support to pursue my art practice successfully. I ended up moving abroad to Belgium with my artist partner at the time and took up English language teaching to support myself. My stay in Brussels lasted for 14 years and within that time I also taught art and piano privately, which rekindled my desire to revisit my own art practice.
A return to the UK in the summer of 2019 made it easier for me to pick up where I left off. I invested in myself straight away by hiring art mentors and doing courses online centred on the business side of art and in 2020 joined the ArtCan community, which has been amazing! ArtCan is an artist-led organization offering support and opportunities to exhibit and curate, founded and directed by artist, Kate Enters.
Since my move back to the UK, I have enjoyed collaborating with musicians and artists, and have also ventured into the NFT arena.
Can you tell us more about the influences of music on your work?
My musical background, playing a lot of Bach and Mozart, left a huge impression on me in many ways such as a love of discipline, order, and being deeply empathetic.
It takes discipline to practise a piece of music repeatedly for days, weeks, months at a time and this adherence to discipline is also practised in my art by way of my process for it is repetitive. In Classical music, there is much order in how the music is structured and there are specific rules to follow on how to create the musical composition. Similarly, in my art, I follow certain rules that I set out at the very beginning. For example, each key on the keyboard has its own colour, which never changes. This is to ensure I retain colour consistency and structural continuity. My work is based on a certain logic, and this is very important to me.
With music, there are some rudiments and theory to learn for sure, but empathy plays a critical role too. Understanding the music emotionally, is what makes music so special. This emotional empathy is what led me initially to translate music into colour. Ultimately, I am looking to portray the beauty of music (both logically and emotionally) through the artworks I create.
In addition to the visual piece, I often add a QR code of the music so that the viewer can experience the piece audibly as well. One can follow along with the music if they wish, reading the piece from left to right as one would when reading music.
How would you describe your signature style and technique?
Colourful, vibrant, and linear. Translating note-for-note in colour gives my work that colour-rich look. Notes are often portrayed as lines or bars with altering thickness referring to the note duration. I work digitally, using Illustrator as I love the precision it offers and get my work printed on a metal called ChromaLuxe. This finish is very mirror-like, elegant, and bold.
Are there any exhibitions or events you are planning?
Yes! I am very excited to be exhibiting work this October at Citizens Art Gallery in North London. The exhibition is called ‘Fragments Meet Chroma’ and stems from my collaboration with French composer, Doug Thomas. There will be a selection of my Chroma pieces on display – with QR codes to Doug’s music. The Chroma pieces are translations of short musical pieces called Fragments. I have experimented beyond my usual linear motif in a lot of the pieces, so the series of works offer a bit more diversity. All pieces will be for sale. Date and address:
October 12th -19th
Citizens Art Gallery
Blue House Yard
River Park Road
What is the best advice you received as an artist?
Don’t wait for things to happen – make them happen yourself! This statement has been critical to me as it is really saying to believe in oneself and to have that confidence and determination to be successful in one’s own right.
Elizabeth Mikellides website: elizabethmikellides.art
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