Malia Shields' Studio Malia is a new manufacturer available on DesignerInc creating beautiful and unique artwork to the trade. Malia is a self-taught painter who was drawn to the world of photography, bringing together a unique combination of these two mediums in her work. We hope you enjoy getting to learn more about her in our interview and also take the time to check out some of her works of art!
Let’s start out with learning more about your company. What makes it unique?
Studio Malia is my answer to living my life in the most authentic and creative way possible. Being a professional artist allows me to do the things I love, get covered in paint or nature/dirt and call that work. My “work” is not just about work, it’s who I am through and through.
Without my company and my brand, I would still be creating, but with them, I can bring what I create to my audience and it inspires a much more prolific experience.
I feel like being a born artist is fairly unique, particularly when painting with other artists, we just “get” each other. A colleague once watched me paint and said “you’re one of us!” In that moment, I was thrilled and truly felt understood. It was more of a recognition than a compliment.
My processes are unique as well. I create in order to achieve a certain effect, texture or color. It’s the process itself that thrills me. I have a few tried and true A-to-B processes I use now that I call my own and eventually plan to teach.
What is a favorite piece in your collection that designers might not know about?
I’m going to go with Forks. I created Forks at my kitchen counter with just the lights, the reflective elements I had around me, and my loved DSLR. I loved the optical illusion that resulted (ie Forks is really just one fork), the way the lines flow like dancers and the abstracted nature of the piece.
Can you tell us about your creative process? How do you come up with new designs and products?
Ahhh my secrets! Well.. the juicy truth is this: I get in the creative flow and I let that motivate me. I use so many different materials and media in most of my processes that it would be a long list. But here’s a peek at one of my favorite ways to create:
Hike or just be in nature, photograph the things and moments that move you, let the mind get quiet (it’s more of a distraction than anything for me) and let inspired ideas flow right in. Take all those wonderful moments home, fawn over them for hours at the computer. Then crop, recompose and use multiple digital processes to see what the images like most (sometimes it’s nothing!). I use only the parts of the image that are part of the story I’m telling, and everything else goes. I love to use colors and filters in backward ways that they were never meant for. I look for balance in color (cool and warm), in shape and form, in positive and negative space and even in how a piece feels to me. Most pieces take months to come together and then a few take only an afternoon, and ironically, those are usually the ones that people call “masterpieces.”
If I have learned anything as an artist, it’s that the art itself is fickle, dynamic and quite alive, and I am simply its channel - a way for the unseen to become seen. Just like in life, anything less than authentic is projection, people are intuitive and they always know.
Is there anything that inspires you more when creating?
The process of creating is inspiring. Being in the flow with the work “is” inspiring. Like a dance - it’s me and the unseen world working in harmony (and often not) to let something emotional and connected be seen.
Tell us more about yourself? How did you get started in this business?
Well.. I was born an artist. I’ve never “not” thought of myself this way. However, selling art is an entirely different animal. I started in galleries and art fairs in 2007 after a dear friend looked at my “big box of work” one late night over coffee and asked why I wasn’t sharing all of it with the world. The piece he loved most I call Cascade. It was painted on tracing paper I had from a drafting class that I really didn’t belong in and with an old set of watercolors that came from Duckworth’s (a little 5-and-dime store I grew up with). Cascade remains on my best sellers list to this day.
What is your favorite part about the manufacturing industry?
I love working with people who are creating “for” other people. It gets the attachment out of the way, and the serendipitous moments just jump right out. People end up loving art they never realized they even liked.