When we think of something that has gone wild, or is wild, or exists in a wild state, our thoughts often travel back to those Sunday afternoons in front of David Attenborough, watching the beasts in their kingdoms via for supremacy in the ongoing cyclic battle between “eat or be eaten”.
Sometimes, when we wake up on that same Sunday, we’ll have a message from a prior evenings drinking partner exclaiming “fuck, your mate was a little wild last night” with all of its negative connotations; the wild of booze or rage filled action or that glimpse in the eye of someone not quite there nor connected to the reality surrounding them.
Then there is that other type of wild, of course, a deeper, more profound and elusive type – the wilderness of the spirit. This is the unconscious, the personality, the passion, yearning and loving. the devout mission and the quest of individuality that so many espouse – this is the wild with gumption, the pizazz ridden wild that we artists and creatives thrive within.
When I think of my friend Mikaela, it’s that “wild pizazz” that comes to mind. Pint sized, inked, swaths of colour and a single minded aim to create imagery and make her mark. Not any kind of marks, mind you, but the smallest of kind, points of ink dispersed across a page, emulsified by proximity and calcified with determination. Shades promoted from blunt nibbed dots to fully formed imagery which encompasses the “wilderness of wildness” in all its various, synonymic beauty. A true wilderness, in all its glory, built from point upon point upon point, until even the slightest of detail becomes an integral part of its form.
These are the rock stars, the burnouts, the idols, the beasts and the burdened. This is an artist delving into her personality and her work, exploring the world before her and placing it where all eyes can see it.
So, with her first ever solo show, “The Wild” (obviously!) just around the corner, we decided to delve a little deeper into the wild world of Mikaela Jane …
So, tell us a bit about your younger years, and how you started out with this creative streak of yours?
I started drawing from a really early age probably about four or five. I remember when I started school, all I ever did in class was draw (usually Ninja turtles and Ren & Stimpy characters). My mother always encouraged us to express our creativity, and with her being a junior primary school teacher I had a vast array of art products always at my disposal. I was very shy until my teenage years, and drawing was my way of showing the world my personality.
You’ve predominantly worked thus far as an illustrator – would you classify yourself as such? What draws you to illustration, and what other mediums do you aspire to master?
I guess I would refer to myself as an illustrator, yes.
I remember reading old copies of Alice In Wonderland and the Narnia series as a child and being drawn to the way that the illustrations really helped to further tell the stories and give a beautiful feel to each character, that they were able to convey so much without any colour, and so simply.
I would love to learn to paint, especially aerosol. I have dabbled in the past, but my can control was terrible, which I blamed on my small weak hands. I am blessed to be surrounded by many friends who are ridiculously talented with spray paint so one day maybe I will ask for some lessons. I also may branch into using colour at some point … who knows.
Pointillism. What the hell. That would definitely drive me insane after so much of it – what is it about pointillism that you find an affinity with? Rhythm? Shade? Movement? Flow?
I think that I was originally drawn to pointillism due to my love of old fashioned style illustration as mentioned above, I also tried my hand at cross hatching but I didn’t enjoy doing it as much. When I started out I saw it as a “cheat way” of shading, as it meant I could just use the one pen, and not worry about grading.
Now that I’ve been doing it for quite a while, and become more intricate with the dots, I find it amazing how one little minuscule dot can completely change the look of someone’s face, or change the light of an image. I get into a rhythm and ‘zone’ when dotting away too, its become strangely relaxing now. I like the notion of creating light and shade with something that is so delicate.
Can you tell us a bit about The Wild, your upcoming show at Egg Gallery? What will it entail, and will you be showing?
The Wild is my first ever solo show, before this I have only ever been a part of one group exhibition. Putting this show on was a huge step for me as it was me deciding to finally take my passion seriously, and try and push myself to the limit. I work best when I push myself out of my comfort zone, and The Wild is me doing just that – into the world of portraiture when in the past I focused mainly on anatomy and tattoo flash inspired work. It features 25 brand new works on paper, all black and white.
What does that term mean for you – “wild” – in its natural state and its societal state, what are the commonalities that you find affinity for – and how would you refute the notion of “being wild” as being a clichéd idea, in a time when being wild seems par for the course?
My whole life I have never been classed as part of the norm, whether due to my appearance, my interests or my way of looking at the world. While back in my teenage years, this really brought me down and I had problems with conformity, I now see “being wild” as being an enormous compliment- that of being untamed, unaffected by what the majority tells you that you should be. There are so many instances these days in pop culture of manufactured ‘wildness’, or trying to be different, but it is all so transparent.
The real “Wild Ones” to me are those who accept their flaws yet don’t flaunt them, and don’t realize how beautiful their differences make them.
We’re going to take a stab in the dark, and figure that even though you’re not really saying what who or what the portraits in the show are, and say that there is a good majority of musicians in your work – only because we know you ;) How have those idols of yours within music shaped your art?
I grew up in the punk and grunge scene back in Adelaide in the mid 90’s, and back then music was my world, it moulded me into who I am today.
Being somewhat of an outcast and a huge tomboy, I was drawn to those genres as they were ruled by fellow misfits – I felt like I had found my home in that crowd. I remember getting Dookie by Green Day on cassette for my 10th birthday, and if anyone remembers that artwork it is the most amazing and crude illustration, it had such a DIY feel to it. That sole piece of artwork resonated with me for some reason, and after that I found myself obsessing over cover art, the fonts the bands used, the controversial yet cheeky imagery bands like Green Day, Frenzal Rhomb and NOFX etc would use. My walls were covered in music posters and drawings I did of my favourite bands CD art.
I then started getting into skateboarding imagery too due to the many collaborations between the two fields, obsessing over artists like Ben Brown and Pushead, and wanting to one day be the female version. That then in turn led to my love of tattoo art, as tattooing pretty much comes hand in hand with the punk scene, which shows in my earlier work being a mix of flash and cheeky gore. The musicians I have focused on in the exhibition are either ones I personally admire for always being themselves, or those who are widely idolized for being pioneers within their own genres, whom I know will have touched someone else’s lives like my heroes did mine.
The gauche and the grotesque – perception of these things is often determined by the viewer; how do you represent these aspects of your work in a positive light?
I think I try to do so with a cheeky attitude, yet the old punk aesthetic as well, keeping it simple.
I think that there’s a great juxtaposition between the delicate nature of pointillism and say, the subject matter of a severed hand. I also, in terms of portraiture, try and make the ‘ugly’ look beautiful, in the soft tones and shading, so that the viewer can see the subject in possibly a different light than before.
As a first solo show, how have you found the entire process of putting it all together? Has, at the end of the day, the work informed the show, or the show informed the work?
The whole process has been a huge learning curve for me, I had no idea just how much goes into putting a show on, especially when doing it all yourself. I have had a great help from one of my friends letting me use their studio space to prepare everything, if I didn’t have that I think I would’ve had to cancel it!
Its been a bit of both worlds really, while the general theme of the exhibition has remained the same since my original proposal, the direction has changed a lot along the way which has been exciting. Originally it was going to focus on Animals and mythical creatures, but then after experimenting with my style, I found an emotional connection with the final subject matter which I didn’t have before, and I think (and hope!) that will show in the work.
Its become my heart and soul, my little baby, and while, right now, I’m a little overwhelmed, it’s already the best thing that I have ever done.
So what are you going to do next? What kind of projects would you like to work on in the future, given time?
Coming up I am working on quite a few collaborations with various artist friends, on some Skateboard deck designs as well as with a couple T Shirt labels. I would love to continue working with apparel, as I have a huge passion for street wear, and would love to get to do some large scale work installation work too down the road and maybe even get involved with something like Secret Walls.
I want to try anything really, I’m all about pushing boundaries so who knows!!