Written by Krista Moy
Featuring Mab Graves
Self taught painter from Indianapolis, IN, artist Mab Graves creates a magical world of fairy tale, science fiction, and pop culture. Her paintings are vibrant and colorful with detailed imagery bringing her charming characters to life. She effortlessly transforms traditionally scary creatures into cute friends of the child-like heroines that star in her work.
Mab Graves is a creative volcano, exploding with more ideas than her brain can handle. Her extensive catalogue of work shows her wide array of interests and inspirations through her own unique perspective. She has shown her work in exhibitions all over the country and has become a staple in the pop surrealism category.
She shares with We Choose Art about her journey into her career as a full time artist.
– What were the beginning stages of your career like?
I spent years after high school being a secret artist and no one but my roommate and a few close friends even knew I was one! That actually served me really well because by the time I got “discovered” and partially unwillingly outed as an artist, I had a very fully developed style. A gallery booked me for my first solo show in 2010 and shortly after that out of the blue my website went viral and crashed a bazillion times in the span of a day or two. I still held on to my day job for a couple years after that because I didn’t believe it and didn’t trust it to last.
– What is your advice to artists starting out?
My advice is usually to not even show or post your work – for a few years even – until it is so strong you can feel it bursting. Paint for yourself and don’t ask your passion to support you until it’s ready to. As long as you keep creating and pushing yourself – it will be. I had to get about 10,000 hours or practice under my belt before anything I created was worth a damn!
– Do you ever feel there is so much you want to do you can’t seem to keep up with all your ideas?
EVERY SINGLE DAY. I am soooooo full. Sometimes I feel deliriously high just from being so inspired my brain can’t keep up! I don’t have a social life at all though! I work between 15-20 hours a day 7 days a week. Sometimes I don’t leave the house for weeks on end! I get very hermity.
– Do you sacrifice your social life for your art?
Haha! I think I just answered that one. Absolutely. 100%. There is no one in the world I would rather hang out with than my art. I try to go out every now and then, but when I do all I can think about is getting home and getting back to work. It’s an unrelenting addiction.
– Do you have any new projects coming up?
I never planned on being an artist professionally. I always knew I would be an artist, but I had always been told that if you make something you love your job then you stop loving it, and there was nothing in the world that would have ever made me want to risk losing my passion.
I was too protective of my passion to risk it. It’s always been the brightest dearest most important thing in my life. So I was committed to a life of working crappy but not unenjoyable day jobs and painting every spare moment of my free time away. The secret is finding a job you don’t hate and living for the night in which you paint. To this day I have promised myself that if it ever stops being fun I’m going to go out immediately and pick up job applications!