ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: Maalavidaa
We're so excited to feature your art on the Darknet blog and learn more about you! Your art style is really unique and mesmerizing! Please tell me a little about yourself!
Hi! Well, first of all, thank you so much for having me, it’s always a pleasure to share about art with others. 🖤
I’m Alycia Rainaud, a 24 year old French graphic designer and digital artist currently living in Montréal, Canada. Some people on the internet might also know me as Maalavidaa. I feel like I’m some polymorph kind of person, as many creatives. Back in 2009, I used to be a hairdresser and somehow, in 2018, I graduated with a graphic design master’s thesis, because, of course, life’s not always considered as a straight path. That’s probably why, in the meantime, I started creating digital artworks under the name of Maalavidaa in 2016. I guess I get easily bored and always need to do several things at the same time :)
How long have you been creating art professionally? And what was the deciding factor for you to pursue it as a career?
From what I recall, I was already working on small client contracts back in 2016 besides school work. Everything came together pretty gradually. The more I shared my work on the internet, the more I had requests popping in my mailbox.
Honestly, I remember having the same feeling of gratefulness as I do now every time someone decides to support and trust my work for a project to happen. I guess it would explain why I became a freelancer right after I graduated in 2018.
To be fair, I felt — and always feel — so lucky that I was able to live from what I enjoyed doing at such an early stage of my life. I didn’t have any true professional experience apart from a lot of internships and it just felt like a blessing to have such creative freedom. There was absolutely no doubt about the fact that this job felt like home to me. I knew it from the beginning back when I started my graphic design studies. There’s something about passion, when you have it, when you find it, you know it and everything just falls into place. It felt like the right thing to do. :)
The way you use color to express mood is so incredible. Have you studied color theory professionally or are you self-taught?
Thank you so much! With graphic design courses, you indeed have to learn about color theory. I remember having quite a few lessons about that topic, it’s a recurring and really important lesson in my opinion. Most of the time we would evoke color theory for technical reasons or communication purposes. Of course, it really lifted my knowledge with colors in general. However, I’m always interested in learning new things and I read quite a few about (color)therapy as well which is such an interesting process.
Please tell us more about your artistic process! How do you go from concept to finished piece? What software do you use?
Somehow, when it comes to artworks, I feel like I don’t have any precise concept in mind. That’s why abstraction is a great tool, to me at least. I just get to go with the flow, listen to myself, and picture the mood I’m in. My process is quite simple and based on the analogy between tangible and digital work. I always start with a mixed media acrylic painting I previously made then digitalize with a scanner or a camera. Then comes the post-production part mostly using Photoshop, Cinema4D or Processing to enhance colors and movements, add some stars, make it spacey.
Your abstract work is heavily tied to feelings and emotional well-being, can you tell us more about what this means to you? Do you create to release and process your own feelings or to elicit specific emotions in the viewer?
From as far as I remember, emotions and mental health have always been heavy topics in my life. I’ve been quite early diagnosed as a hyper-sensitive precocious child. To say the least, I had to face quite a lot of unpleasant things in life, as a lot of us do. The more I grew, the more things got worse. I met quite an amount of therapists from an early age to 18, mostly because of major anxiety and depression. I feel like being so close to therapy all the time has led me to (over)analyze myself and others in a way that it also became a topic I’m passionate to learn about. I can’t even begin to express how much it means to me, but I found that my work could. I’m always curious to see what would happen if I’d merge topics together. As soon as I felt comfortable with graphic design and art, I tried to imagine how I’d be able to convey emotional intelligence into my work and maybe increase mental-health sensitivity. This thought crystallized itself when I met my latest therapist (she was Jungian oriented).
Jungian therapy encourages creative exercises in order to release and let go of thoughts and emotions. That’s what actually led me to create Maalavidaa and explore abstraction daily in order to have a safe and soothing space to breathe. Somehow I ended up sharing these bits and bobs on the internet and it resonated with people. It’s such an amazing feeling to see that artworks are able to become such strong emotional concepts without having to include any figurative elements. It’s a process you know, we’re leaning on each other, healing with each other, one step at a time. I couldn’t be more grateful.
We know you've done many collaborations! Which have been your favorite and why?
Oh, this is a tough one! I’ve done so many amazing collabs these past few years that it would be so hard to choose any favorite one. They’re all unique and witnesses of beautiful relationships built over the internet with talented humans.
Considering this thought, I’d say that my collaborations with Aeforia would be my favorite ones. Besides being a fan of his work in the first place, he became one of my closest friends. Alexy is so easy to work with and his aesthetic is unique. I feel like our work combined really well in an easy way. Maybe because both of our arts are so heavily tied to emotions. When we collaborate, things just fall into place naturally and I’m always pleasantly surprised with the results. It also pushes me out of my comfort zone with colors and sceneries. Such a pleasure to work with such a talented and caring human :)
Do you listen to music while you create? If so, what kind and how do you see it affecting your finished piece?
Definitely, all the time! It’s pretty hard for me to work without music since — you guessed it — my work is heavily inspired by moods and what a better way to picture a mood than music? Most of the time I just go for my Chilling and Crying on the Internet playlist on Spotify. It’s long as hell and full of artists I love. However, I sometimes find myself too stuck in my own taste. I love discovering new music because obviously, new music means new moods and new inspiration so I actually enjoy browsing other’s playlists. There’s quite a heavy relationship between music and artworks to me. Indeed, most of the time, my art pieces are titled because of a specific song, also because I’m not good with titling. Sometimes it’s easier to borrow other's words to describe a feeling you’re unable to put together.
Where do you see yourself at the pinnacle of your career? What would be your ultimate dream come true involving your artwork?
To be fair, it’s pretty tricky for me to capture myself at such a stage. I guess I’m kind of a pessimistic person. I’m always afraid of things crumbling apart at any moment. I guess that’s why I’m not setting any precise goals when it comes to work except for work more. But if I had to, I’d love to see myself as an honest and successful director. I’d love to share with people, work on the road with other creatives, brands I enjoy and stand for, do workshops, exhibitions, conferences. Take my work to another level, bring it to the tangible world. Maybe do some work for Tame Impala. Most of all, I’d like to see myself happy and mentally healthy.
Letʼs say you get full artistic freedom on a billboard on the busiest road in a huge city where millions will see your message. What would your message be? Any combo of words and images is fine.
Mmmm I guess I’d say It’s part of the process. That’s a message I usually shout. Meaning, it’s okay to feel the way you feel during your journey through feelings and failures. It’s part of the process. Somehow it’s gonna be alright, trust your gut, you have to go through this. Let the universe flow through you.
What advice would you give to passionate up and coming artists who want to pursue a career in graphic design?
Don’t be too harsh on yourself. Sometimes you’ll undervalue your work, and it’s okay. Sometimes you’ll think that there’s nothing more about you than you work. It’s wrong, and it’s okay. Sometimes you’ll not be able to disconnect from work, and it’s okay. Passion takes time to process. Sometimes you’ll not be able to create and it’s okay. Sometimes you’ll have to start everything all over again, and it’s okay.
Stay true to yourself, because when you feel like what you’re doing isn’t worth it, it will resonate with someone, and raise passion into them. Enjoy the circle.