We had the privilege to interview Megan from the Darling Fig. Megan is a Queensland, Australia based artist whom has featured in the Melco Fabrics Easter collection. Read on to hear about Megan's journey as an artist, what inspires her and the artwork she is most proud of to date.
No two days are the same! I currently balance my art life with other work, which I greatly enjoy as it revolves within the same sphere - working in creative business and strategy. My ideal day starts early - I like to be up to hear the early birdsong and get a ‘head start’ on the day (I know that’s poor logic!) One thing I do have to make sure I make time for is actually creating or painting - it’s so easy to spend all the time on the other aspects if I’m not careful! Ideally I also exercise in the morning - yoga, dance, swimming or walking! Moving helps my body and mind to function better throughout the day. Walking is an excellent idea generator! I’ve just taken up writing again each morning before the day starts - based on Julia Cameron’s morning pages - three handwritten A4 pages if I can. I also love being able to make time to cook a delicious dinner, slow down enough to catch up with friends or family and visit one of the gorgeous local beaches. In real life, some days are more productive than others. I used to fight this but am learning, very, very slowly - to try and just go with the flow!
Inspiration can come from anywhere - a place I’ve visited, another piece of art or even a song! A while ago, I realised most of my inspiration is derived from the things that are most meaningfulto me - one being a sense of home. When I began painting, I felt displaced for various reasons.
Drawing and painting joyful, cosy things was a great remedy. It was important for me to create joyful art so when the feedback I received reflected this, it made me really happy - to hear something had reminded someone of a loved one or of a special childhood moment was really nice.These seemingly simple things are the reason we’re all here - for love and connection. The fact a little picture I painted can be part of that seems almost magical.
There’s so many amazing artists and makers I love so I’ve chosen a handful that have really inspired me. I discovered Maud Lewis’s work a couple of years ago and was really drawn by her story and beautiful style. I was also inspired by UK artist Mary Kilvert - she has the most gorgeous shop featuring products printed with her illustrations. Both Rosie Harbottle and Cecile Metzger are
I’m largely self-taught with a handful of art lessons as a kid - so no formal training to speak of! I grew up with a pencil just about permanently fixed in my hand - happiness was a box of felt pens and a brand new scrapbook! I drew until my fingers peeled from the ink stains! Painting, potteryand textile design are sprinkled throughout my extended family on both sides - I believe everyone
is inherently creative but I know not everyone makes a profession from it. I grew up surrounded by realist paintings and portraiture, so for a long time thought ‘real art’ looked a certain way. I’ll be forever grateful to Instagram for exposing me to a world of art and colour I just didn’t experience growing up in regional / rural areas - all the art had a tendency to run to landscapes, birdlife and cattle. The internet and design magazines eventually opened my mind to the idea that
there were more possibilities!
It’s hard to recall as it’s been such an organic journey. One that springs to mind was a set of tiny hand- painted cards I did for a NSW florist. It was at the height of the 2020 pandemic, I had just started sharing my work on instagram and she was after small hand-painted cards to include with her bouquets. So I painted a whole heap and posted them down. I had free license to paint whatever I wanted so it was fun. They were so tiny and time consuming! The first “big thing” to happen was an artwork commission from a young couple in Finland. I had just done an Instagram art challenge through which I received a request to paint something for their living room. That was a bit of a ‘wow’ moment - it seemed surreal to be a girl from Queensland, painting on her tiny verandah and receiving this international artwork commission - the first ever request for an
original I’d received!
On reflection, I think the catalyst was a desire to create my own fabric for my kids wear label at the time. I dabbled with digital artwork but found I was too busy making the products to pursue it. I also remember wanting to find a job that was more flexible - this line of thought was inspired solely by the people I saw working at a gorgeous cafe I used to frequent!! When I quit my business, I felt inspired to experiment with watercolour - the process itself just fascinated me. I bought the cheapest paper and pencils I could find and worked my way up from there. After awhile, I realised that illustration and artwork was exactly what I needed to be doing. I’ve always been a multi-passionate creative - being an
artist allows me to build an income that can handle my need to constantly experiment, change and most importantly, connect with others.
My style is constantly evolving, but I do remember knowing where I wanted to go and just having to figure out how to get there. My aim is to produce work that seems to flow and appear effortless, so there’s a sense of ease. The irony is that it takes hours upon hours of work, mistakes and practice
to begin to achieve this, so the process is anything but easy. Ultimately, it’s really just about letting go - I think this is how my style has changed over time. I’m not sure anyone but me would notice this though!
One of the best pieces of advice I received recently was from a friend - “Something does not have to be stressful for it to be a challenge.” That resonated with me as I DO enjoy a challenge, I get bored without it but just because something IS a challenge does not mean it has to have a stressful
component - stress is not helpful or necessary. It’s easy to confuse the two or to think that a challenge isn’t challenging enough without stress. I’m not sure if this makes sense - maybe it’s one of those if you know, you know type things!
Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way changed how I view this. I now see creative block as a symptom, not the actual issue itself. So if I don’t feel great or have a lack of creativity, it’s usually because there’s something I need to address so I can feel clear to paint or create. In this way, it has actually been an amazing tool for tapping into my intuition or as a catalyst for healing. It’s not always easy or pleasant but meeting the ‘block’ head on and asking myself a few questions has been almost transformative - albeit with occasional swearing or tears! I have also learned what can lead to creative block so I try to avoid things that I know will be counterproductive to feeling creative.
It’s like having to choose a favourite child but I am probably most proud of a set of seven pieces I did in an art challenge in early 2021. I almost didn’t do it - it seemed too hard, to create seven paintings in a week. By some miracle, I found the energy to do it. That process was a turning point for me - it taught me consistency and how to work effectively. It changed everything - I received art commissions, had my work stocked in stores - some of the designs are my best sellers now! It finally just gave me a sense of direction and everything began to click after that. I’ll always be grateful I persisted and participated in that challenge. It’s given me an anchor point and foundation to refer to whenever I get a bit lost again!
Joyful, playful, nostalgic.