Power; Being Enough
Ness Cieca; Surrealist Artist
I met Ness volunteering at an awesome musical festival (Bluesfest, in Beautiful Byron) and we clicked straight away. I knew she was a special lady as I saw her amazing artwork. We then collaborated on my first music release on the cover art, and I flew Ness up from Wollongong to Brisbane to do live art at the performance, as well as create the stop animation for our little music video. Ness has a beautiful, authentic nature that speaks through her artwork and is currently working on her own fully illustrated book. More of Ness's work can be found here.
Get to meet surrealist artist Ness;
E: How old were you when you really got stuck into drawing?
N: It's been a steady build up since I drew a Pikachu as a child and thought it was the most beautiful thing anyone had ever created. The flood-gates really opened in adolescence. I think that's pretty common, because people begin grappling with a lot of new ideas in their teens, and my way of reconciling myself with those new concepts was to create images that blended aspects of two people or creatures. I see a lot of anthropomorphic and neo-surrealist illustration and I always wonder if they had a similar experience.
E: What inspired you to do it?
N: Probably my big sister. I don't actually remember the moment of inspiration, but its a safe guess. I used to copy a lot of what she did, down to the music she listened to, and I probably saw her draw something and thought 'yeah, same!'
E: What are the biggest hurdles you have to face?
N: I recently cleared a mental hurdle that I'd been stuck behind for years. I'd had a big hiatus in terms of exhibiting. I would say things like 'I'm good enough that I don't need anyone's advice' and then in the next breath I would say 'I'm not good enough to show anyone my art', and I never thought about how silly that was until a few weeks ago. Now I remind myself that I can improve constantly, beyond the scope of what I believe I am capable of, and that showing the world my art as I improve will be a beautiful thing. Other than that, finances and the old inner critic definitely get in the way.
E: What inspired you to start your book?
N: Hmm. Recently I asked two friends how they met, and neither of them could remember. Remembering how my book developed is a little like that. Usually I begin a story with the world building, which comes from the results of asking myself a big 'what if' question, but not with Iris. I think the main characters, who are twins, used to be one character (a side character in another story), and I split that character in half and they grew into their own complete selves (Tamsin and Jay), and the dynamic between them coloured in the whole city they lived in, and I asked questions about the way I had imagined things until the answers described a whole world.
E: What would you like to see happen in the creative arts?
N: I think (and hope) that the constant limits placed on arts funding will force artists to create new ways of projecting art into the world. It already happens with things like backyard gigs and street art, but I want more and I want the forms it takes to surprise me. I want art education establishments to stop telling people that only 5% of their students will be successful, and to start helping their students to redefine success and to build a climbable ladder to it.
E: What would you tell yourself 5 years ago?
N: Never ever stop creating. You have to do it every day. It is how you access who you are, and it is how to stay happy.
E: What’s one of the proudest moments you’ve have in your career?
N: I feel the most proud when I've just finished a painting that's better than I thought it would be. When I first started painting spoons, I went to pick the actual spoon I had been copying off the page and accidentally reached for my painting instead. I was pretty chuffed. Also, whenever I exhibit I feel proud that I was organised enough to get my art out of the house.
E: Where would you like to be 10 years from now?
N: Illustrating the world and teaching art.
E: Why do you do what you do?
N: I make art because nothing else makes me as happy. I show people because it connects me to like minded people. I teach because I got sick of hearing stories about kids slipping through the cracks in the education system, so I thought I'd go and try to block some of those cracks up as best as I can.
E: What keeps you grounded?
N: There's a grounding exercise I use to help kids with anxiety where they have to think of 5 things they can see, 5 things they can hear, and 5 things they can feel. I write, just mentally, describing my situations to myself to get me out of my head and into my body. Things like 'I can hear power-lines vibrating in the wind', 'I can feel something in my bag knock against my back when I walk', or 'I can see initials graffiti'd into a tree branch'.
E: What’s the best piece of advice someone has given you?
N: When I started teaching my friend Eryn told me this; 'Be yourself. Take no crap.'
E: What does power mean to you?
N: Power is being able to make decisions that have impact on the world.