Madeleine Stamer, of Little Circus Design, is a Melbourne-based artist, illustrator, visual art teacher and all-round clever, super lovely person. When I stumbled across an Instagram photo of her brand new, custom-built studio early this year, I was blown away. It looked like the perfect little place to work, a stand-alone building in the backyard of the amazing house she shares with her husband Karl and two daughters, Wilhelmina and Ada. I'm so glad she was happy to let me loose in the space and snap away, so I can share it here!
Chatting to Madeleine, I discovered she began her creative life as a ceramicist, producing large-scale sculptural pieces, but 10 years ago she picked up paint brushes and started illustrating and hasn't looked back. She now splits her work time between her new studio and teaching art part-time 2 days a week to primary school children.
Madeleine's illustration work features strong, decorative line work, bold, folk-inspired patterns, Mexican-inspired motifs and quirky Australiana themes. She works on large-scale paper and often starts with a rough sketch, then uses traditional brush and ink work and finally, watercolours, to bring her ideas to life. She then produces small print runs of her work, along with other limited edition pieces, which you can buy from her shop. I asked Madeleine some questions about her work and workspace, here they are.
MADELEINE STAMER: Q&A
How long have you been in the space and where did you work previous to this?
Our builder began transforming our old shed mid-2015 and completed work around September the same year. It took me a few months to properly transition into the studio. A large chunk of my materials and furniture remained in the house where I worked prior. Over the years I’ve been fortunate to share studio spaces with some really amazing creatives but I’ve come to realize that I work best from home, which involves less chatting and procrastination.
How many hours a week do you spend there?
Not as much as I’d like at the moment but once the kids resume school I’ll knuckle down into a few new projects. It would do my head in if I had to clock on and off but if I have an urgent deadline, you’ll find me in there around the clock. Otherwise, I’m in and out processing orders or bunkering down for a few solid hours here and there, creating new work.
How, if at all, has the space influenced your work?
I’ve only recently moved in but I’m sure the coziness, solitude and sweet tunes will reveal its magic within my work over the coming months. I’m looking forward to working through the seasons, daydreaming and staring out of the big window, taking in the garden - it will all play its part.
What would your dream workspace look like?
I truly have my dream workspace, lucky me!!! It’s been nearly 20 years in the making but I can finally say I’ve hit the jackpot! My husband and I bit the bullet mid 2015 and decided to transform our old tin garage into a studio. We kept the existing concrete slab and internal framework of the old garage. The original garage was longer than necessary, so we chopped off a third to gain more garden. Our excellent builder, Mr. Radbuild, re-clad the exterior, re-roofed it and he custom built a massive square window inspired by a cute little barn style home that I spotted on Pinterest. I rely on natural light during the day and the cool concrete floor is a blessing on super hot days. We’re pleased that we were able to salvage a large portion of the existing structure and introduced a whirlybird for air circulation, keeping the studio as environmentally sustainable as possible. Our liquidambar tree acts as a humongous umbrella in summer, keeping the temp relatively cool.
Which other creatives inspire you (personally or professionally)?
I feel very blessed to be a part of two amazing Melbourne creative families, The Jacky Winter Group and Greenhouse Interiors. The camaraderie amongst the artists is pretty goddamn special and I love seeing what everyone’s getting up to across their respective social platforms. My husband runs Lantern Printing. I am often bumping into his clients, some whom have become good friends. We often plot and plan art swaps, collaborations and future projects, which gets the creative juices flowing! I rely heavily on Instagram to peek into the world of other creative folk. If you take a look at who I follow, you’ll get a good idea of who floats my boat ;o)
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