Minna Gilligan's art is colorful, fun, and feels like it came straight out of our wildest teenage dreams. Here we talk about her early beginnings, her romanticism of surf culture, and the art she created for the Surf Daze summer preview lookbook.
My name is Minna Gilligan and I live in Melbourne, Australia. I am 21 and in my last year of a Bachelor Degree in Fine Art. In my spare time I work for Rookie Magazine and blog about my terribly boring existence that may or may not be taking place in the 1970s.
When was the moment you realized you wanted to make art?
Well I always knew I wanted to make art because my whole family are pretty intrenched in that industry. The idea of being an artist came to me when I was very young and made an artwork out of lolly wrappers in school. It was sort of Andy Warhol-esque, I suppose. When I saw his soup cans for the first time at MoMA
I started to take it more seriously, or as serious as possible when making the kind of work I make—you know, cutting out pictures of hamburgers and stuff. Describe your artistic style in one sentence.
At the moment it's a psychedelic playground of personal traumas and exhalations. (Keep in mind this 'one sentence' is incredibly transient!)
What's your main focus when making your art? Color? Shapes? Patterns?
My philosophy is "more is more" so I focus on everything: color, shapes, patterns, glitter, stickers. I'm also really into found imagery. I find some really bizarre stuff in old books and printed material. I like to think a lot about sentiments and memories and how they are summarized so succinctly in imagery and color and stuff. Tell us about the art you did for the Surf Daze summer preview lookbook and how you got involved in the project.
I made some text drawings that were inspired by sunsets I'd experienced looking out of my bedroom window. We get some beautiful pink and orange skies where I live, especially in the summer. I got involved in this lookbook via the wonderful world wide web. I have a blog where people can read about the mundanities of my life and I think that Urban found my art there via my Rookie work or some other obscure link. Y'know cyberspace is a crazy place!
What are your biggest influences overall?
Well apart from the sunsets that I just talked about I'm really into this surfing movie from 1971 called Morning of the Earth.
it's so beautiful and encapsulates surfing culture so eloquently alongside an amazing soundtrack. I give this film five out of five stars even though I'm not qualified to do so. Who do you look up to in the art world?
I get really inspired by a whole bunch of people. My favorite artist at the moment is Mike Brown, who was an Australian painter and sculptor in the '60s and '70s. I also just love Pipilotti Rist
, Helen Frankenthaler, Henri Matisse
and Australian artists Jenny Watson, Vali Myers
and Paul Yore. I also have to mention the likes of Leonard Cohen
and Joni Mitchell
, who offer me boundless fields of inspiration. Do you surf? Are you involved in the surf culture?
I don't surf! But every summer I go down the coast on the Great Ocean Road
, which is just the most beautiful coast line in Victoria, Australia. My Dad is a huge surfer. In the '70s he would hitchhike down the Great Ocean Road with his friends and camp on the beach. All he could afford to eat was potatoes, he tells me, so he'd whittle them into chips with a Stanley knife and fry them on a bonfire. He still surfs now and has attempted on many occasions to get me involved but I'm more into the 'idea' of it, the romance of catching a wave rather than the salt water in your mouth and getting sunburnt and stuff, you know?
How intwined are surfing and your art?
Sort of actually not intwined at all, I hate to break it to you. But I'm into summer and amazing 1970s sunglasses and road trips and listening to the Beach Boys, very much so. What do you think is the biggest draw to surfing/surf culture? Why?
Well I think the romance of it, like the idea of travelin' down a rambling road with nothing but a board and some potatoes (in the case of my father). It's very Bob Dylan, a kind of freewheelin' lifestyle, but who am I to define this? I mean I sit inside all day daydreaming and drawing with markers.