Fresh out of Melbourne suburbia is Melina McGough, an internationally-recognised artist and graphic designer recognised for her statement black and white works and celebrity portraiture.
Her bold, highly-detailed and unmissable artistic style combined with her hard-work and ambition inspires her growing fan-base to follow their creative dreams.
Over the years, she has grown an admirable fan base and an already loyal client following ranging from Crown Resorts, David Jones, Meshki, Westfield and Adobe to name a few.
So just give her some ink, pencils and paint and you’ll see her talents flourish.
Grab a cuppa because ya gal sat down with Melina, amongst her busy schedule, to chat all about her inspiring journey to becoming an in-demand artist.
To begin, tell us how you’re journey with art began?
Well I’ve been drawing from an early age and it’s just been a part of me. I’ve always loved the creative process and making art but I was discouraged to pursue it as a career. I studied fashion then went to uni and did a Bachelor of Communication Design at RMIT, I received a scholarship which took me Milan for 6 months. That really opened my eyes to the creative world and I soon realised that I was destined to pursue art.
When I got back to Melbourne, I worked as a graphic designer and I started my art business on the side. I remember after work and on weekends I would be up all night doing custom portraits and drawings for people, it grew by word of mouth and developed from there.
How would you describe your artistic style?
Bold yet tame with minimal black and whites that marry contemporary quirkiness with timeless design.
How did your artistic style evolve?
I’ve always been intrigued by the contest of black and white and the power it has to deliver a mood or meaning. My style hasn’t evolved too much. Early on I was doing fashion illustrations but I loved the minimalistic line drawing style, which I still carry on doing today and that’s evolved into more larger scale murals. I taught myself how to draw hyper realistic portraits which I sometimes do upon request.
How do you usually begin a project?
It varies depending on the client and type of project.
Custom painting/drawings: I firstly have a chat with the client, find out exactly what they want (sometimes they don’t know and put all their trust in me, which is a huge compliment) Then I’d create a little brief with all the info, budget and timeline. Communication is key! Once the client is happy then design process beings.
Personal: If I am doing a personal collection for my shop, I like being completely alone, I write notes, sketch from the heart, run wild with ideas then refine them and bring it to life.
Murals: This is a bit more complicated because you have to factor in the scale, surface, environment, weather, location, permits, equipment and materials.
What are the three things you can’t live without?
Sketchbook, pens and my dog.
What is it like walking into your art studio?
My art studio is in Collingwood. It’s an upgraded industrial loft building. There’s a gallery downstairs and a shared working space upstairs, we’re like a little creative family. My space is probably the messiest, I like spreading my work around, I’ve got to two big tables and a huge empty wall where I create big pieces.
How would you describe your typical day?
After I wake up, get dressed and eat. First thing I do is check my emails, then I’m usually on my socials no more than 1 hour and try to respond to everyone. When I get to the studio, I open up my diary and then write up a separate ‘to-do’ list and stick it on the wall. I’m usually working all day, but I might step out to run errands/buy paper or materials. I usually eat out on Smith St or bring food back to get me through the evening.
What was it like meeting and giving Teyana Taylor your artwork?
It was incredible and so surreal! Teyana is a raw multi-talented performer, I saw her show in Melbourne and then met her backstage. She’s just so real and authentic. When I handed her the artwork, she was blown away and said “It’s so beautiful and realistic! I get so many gifts but this one is so special to me.” She gave me a big hug then we hang out and discussed which one of her three houses it will go in. Fun times.
What’s been your biggest career highlight so far?
It would have to be working with Adobe USA. They asked me to create a huge custom painting for Women’s History Month, and to lead their online campaign as their official partner. I spoke about the movement, our industry and gave some inspiring tips for up and coming designers. It was such an honour. The artwork was titled ‘female’, it is a line painting filled with messages and imagery of unity and strength. The focal point was the large metallic gold gender symbol.
What’s been your biggest challenge?
My biggest challenge was the 90sqm mural I painted at Flemington Racecourse for the ‘Melbourne Cup, Spring Carnival’ last year. There was a very tight timeframe and crazy weather conditions. I decided to get an assistant to help out. It was an outdoor mural, we persevered through extreme heat, rain and hail. It was finished on time, the vision came to life and it was well worth the effort.
In these crazy times of COVID-19, what’s been the best way for you to stay creative?
To be honest it has been pretty difficult, but I go for regular walks with my dog to get my mind refreshed and body activated. I also have a diary by my bed and write down everything that’s on my mind and list 3 things I am grateful for. Staying positive and having a healthy mindset is so important.
What’s the biggest piece of advice you have for any aspiring creative or artist wanting to make a living from as an artist?
Always be your authentic self, that’s what makes you unique and will set you apart from the crowd. Also, stay in your lane and don’t get distracted by what other people are doing.
Finally, any exciting plans coming up that we should keep an eye out for in the future?
I have a few new fun jobs in the works, but the most exciting one is a new fashion project coming at the end of the year. Stay tuned for that!