“Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up” – Pablo Picasso
Chicago-based graphic and visual artist Maaly is absolutely brimming with creativity. He uses design to engage, empower, and educate across print, screen and space. With his distinctive and edgy style, this artist has achieved to create and develop some of your favorite brands and logo designs to date. We took a minute to chat with Maaly about his growth and inspirations.
Photography by : @_AshtonTY
Q: Who is Maaly? Where did your brand name Art4Maaly come from?
A: Maaly is a Father, Artist & Pizza Advocate. My brand name comes from the phrase “artist formally known as” & I noticed “mally” in the word formally which is similar to my name so it’s kind of a play on words & from there I created the logo for “A4M.” The name just kind of stuck and it was dope so here we are.
Q: When did you first start getting into graphic design?
A: I first got into graphic design in my junior year in high school. To be completely honest, I didn’t even know what graphic design was. I was a graffiti kid so lettering & characters were my world & I was exposed to Photoshop thru one of my main mentors, my high school art teacher Mr. McElgunn & he was also a graffiti head so we kind of bonded over that & the rest is kind of history.
Q: Faceless characters in your artwork has become a signature of yours. What is the meaning behind this concept?
A: So the faceless characters have multiple meanings. Seeing how most of my favorite artists are known for certain character attributes, it inspired me to create my own signature branding concept for myself. I really like the idea of a single silhouette that can tell many stories or represent so many different people, no matter what your race, ethnicity or gender is. The concept came from listening to Acid Rain by Chance. He has a line in the song where he says “I’m still waiting on god to show his face” and I thought that statement was so profound to my artwork. There are so many things we do or don’t identify within society & we are waiting on something real to tag it to but the faceless characters are made to say that your actions create your face. Never judge a book by its cover.
Q: What's the last piece of artwork you purchased?
A: The last piece of art work I purchased was a piece by this amazing artist named Mary Ruth Butterworth. She’s so amazing! I got to meet her at a show we both took part in & I instantly fell in love with her work, her color choice & how she illustrates her characters is one of a kind. I really enjoy her work.
Q: Describe your creative process. What is your favorite piece you have created thus far?
A: Man my creative process is minimal I think but I draw inspiration from everything I have. When I’m creating, I HAVE TO have a cold beverage, nacho cheese sunflower seeds (like 10 packs lol) and my sketch pad aside of me and that just the essentials. For the most part, I take ideas that I’ve picked my brain for weeks or months to detail out & figure out how they’ll play out visually & I sketch them. I then take the sketch to my computer & start my process. I use a lot of real life references just to help detail out whatever it is I’m creating to make sure the idea that I’m trying to convey is being received properly. As far as my favorite piece man idk they’re all my babies it might be a painting I did a while back titled “Arrogant Ignorance.” It’s the only painting I’ve ever done freehand like there’s no sketchbook reference for it & it is one of my most loved pieces by many.
Q: I see that you’re working on your first solo show, what can we expect from the art that will be displayed? What made you decide that you’re ready to show your work to the world?
A: So for my first solo show you can expect work that focuses on faith, coming of age, the magnificence of the brown woman, race, etc. I’m not much of a talker, but I am a huge listener & at times I catch gems or quotes from people, podcasts and music & think damn what would this quote visually look like so I hope people can relate & decipher what I’m going for with my show. I’ll def. be playing in the pop art arena. I’ve been experimenting with some print/paint based pieces so hopefully everything comes alive the way I want it to. I’ve been wanting to do my solo show forever! I’m feeling confident as ever, and I’m feeling the love from all my people so now I’m just ready! Good or bad, it’ll be a weight off my back.
Q: Did graphic design lead you to painting and photography?
A: Nah so photography & graffiti were my first loves. I can’t lie, I use to do photo shoots with a little ass digital camera. I loved taking pictures so much that I wasn’t going to let the fact that I didn’t have the illest camera stop me from doing what I loved. Graphic design came later where as I took my drawings & started to digitize them & that turned into making logos, etc.
Q: Do you have a specific art style? Where do you draw inspiration from?
A: I don’t like to be put myself in a box as the painter or a photographer because I enjoy doing so many things but graphic design is my preferred medium just because it’s so flexible. I can fuck up & still fix it, Graphic design allows you to experiment but at the end you still love the piece you created. Like I said before, I draw inspiration from everything, TV, music, other artist, my family & the world. I can literally be walking or driving & see something & take a mental note like damn let me dabble in that & see what happens.
Q: How do you find avenues of revenue in such a saturated market?
A: Well that’s the tricky part as artists & creatives, we think we make something & people are going to buy it but in reality it’s not that simple a lot of missing variables come into play when selling a service or selling merch. You have to create a demand for your supply! I just try to stay as busy as possible & work with as many other creatives as possible without jeopardizing the integrity of my brand
Q: Throughout the years, what has Art or photography taught you?
A: Art in general has taught me to never stop dreaming. On a daily basis, I have at least 100 ideas or more & it’s all about getting them out as responsible as possible & by that I mean, just like me there are a million more artists in the world with the same ideas as me. It then becomes about whoever claims and put the idea out first so it’s up to you to take proper care of those ideas & execute them to the best quality possible. Often, I hear it’s a marathon not a sprint & that’s true to a certain degree. You can’t get upset when you see others execute concepts that were in your head, you were just too late executing it. I also learned that you also have to move for yourself, you can’t expect anyone to give you a handout. As an artist, we have a tendency to wait to be discovered. You have to figure out how to do it on your own & not rush your process. Fame is trash, that shit will cloud your judgment, always focus on your business & the quality of your product.
Q: Who’s your favorite living artist?
A: Hebru, Max Sansing, George Condo, My Boy Josh Taylor, Kaws and of course, Takashi and that’s just to name a few.
Q: What areas of your work or personal development are you hoping to explore further?
A: To be honest, being the best father I can be to my son and a role model to my nephews is what inspire me to keep going. I love to make artwork that my son can look at & be proud of, whether it’s physical art or an establishment. Being more efficient all around is what I’m focused on.
Q: What can we expect from you next year?
A: Next year you can expect my first solo show, I do a clothing release every February for black history month & I’ve got some fire in store lol. I’m also putting together some graphic design workshops that are going to pretty dope and I’m working on something in the food industry as well. Not many know, but I went to culinary school for a while so I’m excited to explore that field.