Artist Maddy Butcheris a firm favourite on the regional art and music scene, Dubai Night caught up with this colourful character to find out more…
What has been happening in your world recently?
I’ve just finished a big mural for the new W Hotel on The Palm, a project for ENOC and 3 canvases for a restaurant called El Sur at The Westin. It’s supposed to be quiet this time of year, but I’m busy which is always good!
Where did you study or is art something that you have always had a flair for?
I studied at Edinburgh College of Art, and lived in Scotland for 6 years. On my first week, the tutor said “There’s no point in painting something you can take a photo of” – and I took him literally and fell out of love with art because I liked painting realistically then. Now I agree with him. Moving to Dubai and spraying with people I met at Hip Hop nights got me back into painting, and for a few years I did commissions that were always what brands asked for – but now, by going back to the love of it, I’ve found my own style, and I feel like my heart is leading me more than my head.
If you had to choose one, what artist has been most influential in your development as an artist?
That’s impossible! There’s far too many! And if it was just one – my work might morph into that person’s style. If there had to be one – I’d say Fathima Mohiuddin – not just because she’s one of my closest friends, but because she’s shown me it’s possible to find a balance between fluctuating levels of creativity and a steady work ethic and also the importance of developing your own style – even if it’s not what brands or clients have in mind. I’m always erratic, and she showed me that that’s OK – I can still get things done, and the best results are worth fighting for.
Is this still the case or do your influences constantly evolve?
I think it’s crucial to keep evolving as a painter, singer, writer or taxi driver. To vary your sources and never stop feeding your brain. Boredom, inertia and Social Media are the biggest killers of creativity in terms of time-stealing, but also the portal into so many ways to be inspired.
Do you listen to music while you work? If so, what do you prefer to listen to when you work?
100%. A lot of my abstract pieces are direct translations of music – new or old jazz, African Funk, a bit of Abu Dhabi Classic FM, and Drum and Bass. Not techno.
I also listen to a lot of spoken word – Comedians or BBC Radio 4 – because art involves a lot of time by yourself – and if its just you, a paintbrush, and every conversation that normally runs through your mind, you’d overthink everything and be an absolute nutcase.
What do you find being the most challenging aspect about being a working artist in Dubai?
Brands and Marketers only want to do what’s been done. I get weekly requests for Calligraffiti, the Dubai Skyline, 3D Art or ripping off other artist’s styles. If you want to work with an artist – utilise their uniqueness and then everyone benefits. Then real stories start to happen and not marketing initiatives.
But there really is an element of trust with art too. If I’m going to do a huge painting – you can’t expect a perfect digital representation of it before I start – you have to trust the standard I produce and the style I’ve shown you I can create. Otherwise I’m doing two paintings for half the cost – and that is a lot more time intensive, and personal, than asking a designer to make the logo bigger.
What piece of art that you have created are you most proud of?
I would say the W on The Palm – for now. I have a film coming up about it. The piece is called “Melting Pot” – and it’s about the mix of cultures in Dubai that compliment, juxtapose and often define each other. I’ve learned so much in this town – not through hanging out with other Brits in Barasti, but by pushing my comfort zones and learning about other narratives that add colour to mine.
What do you have coming up that we should look out for?
I’m not allowed to say, because it’s for someone very important, but it’s exciting and I feel proud to be involved.
To keep up to date with all of Maddy’s fantastic work head over to maddybutcher.squarespace.com.