Maureen Meyer: The Big Picture Creator
Maureen Meyer knows how to see the forest for the trees. Always a curious creative, she has memories of drawing and making things from as early as age six. Later, she applied that curiosity in her work as a graphic designer, where she spent over a decade sharpening her skills, but her artistic potential wasn’t yet fully actualized. Now, based in Los Angeles, Meyer is creating full-time and focusing on fine art — making the big picture come to life. Here’s her full story.
When did you start creating? Did you always think you would be an artist?
Maureen Meyer: I started creating when I was a child. I specifically remember a drawing I made in 1st grade— we were asked to depict what we wanted to be when we grew up. I wanted to be a professional marathoner and a photographer, so I drew a camera with a little runner in the lens. I am no professional athlete nor do I take photos with anything other than my phone, but I wasn’t too far off with my interests. My deep love for making art was already there by age 6.
What has your path to becoming an artist been like?
MM: After finishing design school in 2003, I spent the next 12 years as a graphic designer in New York, developing expertise in both the 2- and 3-dimensional realms. Typography, packaging, branding, publication, visual concepting and styling were among the skills I developed during that time. The latter half of those years were spent feeling pretty unfufilled, however, as I grew very restless with having the computer as my primary tool. I began to explore more abstract graphic solutions (frustrating some clients in the process), and by the time I moved to LA in 2015, I was ready to shift primarily to fine art.
Did you ever think about going back and studying fine art?
MM: I have always had my heart set on going back to school for my MFA, however I have two young girls and the timing has never been right. So two years ago I began to make my own art and follow my instincts. I learned to weave, picked up a paintbrush for the first time in 15 years and starting cutting up any paper I could get my hands on to make collages.
What do you need in you studio to get in the flow of making — whether music, natural light, specific items?
MM: I am always listening to music. Sometimes lyrical, other times purely instrumental, meditative… I have a stack of books at my studio that I often flip through to get the wheels turning, and most days I start off by sketching loosely for 20-30 minutes.
What keeps you going, or what are the best parts of making art?
MM: I love the challenge. Making art is an arena where I make the rules, and that feels very gratifying since I have limited control in most other areas of my life! Sometimes that freedom can be overwhelming, however— when that happens, I step away from the composition to give both myself and it some space. I find almost every time I return to the work, I am refreshed and the dance begins again.
What inspires you?
MM: Right now it is primarily nature. I am reading a lot lately about the impacts of humans’ disconnection from the physical earth, so I am giving it much more thought than I used to. I find myself repeatedly creating simplified forms that refer to the elements— ocean waves, round suns/moons, angled tree branches, rolling mountains, meandering paths etc.
From where do your color palettes derive?
MM: My soft, muted palette is mostly inspired by the the light and architecture in Los Angeles and artists who are known for very special and unexpected use of color (Milton Avery, Etel Adnan).
Beyond these influences, I am always perusing sources in the background— old yet timeless forms of art and design such as textiles (Sheila Hicks’ tapestries, Gees Bend quilts, vintage Swedish flat weave rugs), the languages of the Bauhaus (lamps, teapots) and the Memphis group. French art deco (Ivan da Silva Bruhns), and everything ever created by Eileen Grey.
What advice would you give other creatives who are still finding confidence in their craft, or are thinking about becoming full time artists but haven't yet?
MM: If you feel compelled to make art, then you must or you will be miserable. That said, it is certainly a luxury to be able to follow your passion in this way, and life only allowed this for me in the past two years. So I would recommend making art in whatever capacity one is able to, and let that satisfy you until the path unfolds.
A few favorites...
Favorite thing to wear? Hats and sneakers.
Favorite place to find inspiration? Outside, old book shops.
Favorite city you've ever visited? Taormina, Sicily.
Favorite album? That’s hard. I don’t have one, so here are my tops: Jolene (Dolly Parton), Coexist (The XX), Midnight Marauders (A Tribe Called Quest), The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, Grace (Jeff Buckley).
Favorite thing to do when you're not making art? Being with my family or practicing yoga.