International Women's Day 2020: 3 Inspirational Female Artists

Adam Holcroft

Celebrated for well over a century on the 8th March each year, International Women's Day (or IWD) is a day focussed on celebrating the achievements of women around the world. IWD also provides a platform to reflect on the inequality women experience, to call for change, and to raise awareness of bias against women.

To celebrate this year's International Women's Day I'm sharing just three of my favourite female artists with you.

Votes For Women | International Womens Day 2020
Votes for Women – Matt Print by Meha Hindocha

Emily Lamb

Emily Lamb describes herself as a 'Painter and traveller connecting people to the wilderness …'. Her work focuses on the natural world, with bold, expressive depictions of wildlife intended to draw attention to the plights of endangered species and communities in Africa.

In 2019, Emily was the first artist in residence at Angama Mara, a stunning safari lodge above the Maasai Mara game reserve in Kenya. Whilst there she painted 17 pieces which were raised $12,000 for the Angama Foundation in just 10 days.

Emily describes her style as an attempt to "translate the places, people and creatures of Africa into a medium that can communicate the beauty and emotion that the continent evokes..".

One of her most recent projects is the Daily Sketch for Wildlife series where she created a sketch a day for 400 days, selling the pieces for £100 each with 100% of the proceeds going to wildlife charities. You can see the full range of sketches on her Instagram here.

Victo Ngai

Victo Ngai is an LA based illustrator originally from Hong Kong whose work is inspired by comic book drawings, Japanese painters, and classic children's book illustrations. Ngai creates her pieces using pen for the line work, various mediums to create textures, such as acrylic or oil pastels, before finally using Photoshop to digitally colour the artwork.

Mixc World Launch - Victo Ngai

Her illustrations combine intricate, highly detailed line work with skewed perspective and limited colour palettes to create pieces which take the viewer to a place of fantasy.

Ngai's work can be seen in newspapers and magazines, on packaging and advertisements, in books, and as storyboards for animations. Her clients have including The New York Times, Penguin Random House, Dreamworks, and Apple.

Tough Choice - I's necessary to give up one to gain another,

Ngai has also taught at the New York School of Visual Arts, The Illustration Academy, and gives guest lectures at universities and art schools around the world. Her most recent achievement saw her awarded the Hamilton King Award, for excellence in illustration, by the Society of Illustrators.

"My sister powers the world", General Electric, AD: Eric Goldstein

Swoon - Caledonia Curry

Photo Courtesy of Bryan Derballa

Caledonia Curry, better known in the art world as Swoon, is a Brooklyn based street artist who specialises in large scale paper cut-outs of human figures. She began using the name Swoon when her then-boyfriend had a dream about the two of them doing graffiti together where she tagged her work with the pseudonym.

Interestingly, using the genderless nickname resulted in people expecting Swoon to be a man, a not unexpected assumption in the male dominated world of street art. Caledonia now sees 'Swoon' as more of a concept, embodying her belief that the combination of dedication and creativity can create “cracks in the facades of impossibility and inevitability”.

The Canyon: 1999 - 2017

Caledonia’s process involves creating her signature large human forms on recycled papers, which can take weeks to paint and cut, before glueing them to derelict buildings, street signs, and other blank walls using wheat paste.

Her work is inspired by fairy tales, myths, and sacred femininity, as well as a desire to create portraits which capture the essence of a person or community.

The Road Home

What started out as a two month project of portraits has now seen Swoon continue her work for over 10 years, with pieces appearing in the São Paulo Museum of Art, the Tate Modern, and New York’s Museum of Modern Art amongst others. Her most recent practice has seen her exploring more visual storytelling through the use of film animation.

Moni and the Sphinx, (Teal) 2018

There are so many more fantastic female artists who I could have featured in this post, these are just three of the incredible artists who inspire me to keep creating.

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Feet up...

Kelly France
If there's one day of the year you don't want to forget, it's probably Mothering Sunday. And this year it falls earlier than usual. Famed as THE day to celebrate and thank the women that brought us into the world as well as other maternal figures, Mums across the country are already excited at the prospect of a lie-in (and maybe even the possibility of breakfast in bed!) on Sunday 11 March. We told you it was early! We all know the thing most Mums value is quality time spent with loved ones. If you’re looking for some inspiration of what else to give, read on to discover our top picks that might just help Mum remember a precious moment (or two) spent in some of the UK's most famous cities – as well a few further afield… If Mum’s going to be able to relax and maybe even get cosy, one of our cityscape cushions will provide the perfect backdrop a little ‘me time’. In a range of multicoloured designs as well as some bold black and white options, our printed cushion covers can be bought separately making them incredibly easy to wrap and post! This bright London design is one of our most popular cushions. And if some quiet time doesn't sound quite enough, why not treat her to a slice of her favourite cake and a good brew? Our range of mugs will whisk her away and invite her to get lost in one of many vibrant cities. A coaster might be a welcomed gift too if she’s not a fan of watermarks – or already has one too many mugs! If she’s a collector of tea towels (we all know a few, right?!), look at our range of eye catching designs guaranteed to brighten up any kitchen. Our newest addition to the selection available online boldly displays the sights and landmarks of Newcastle. That’s our top three gifts for Mum! Don’t forget to take a look at our range of prints too, which include New York and Vegas skylines, and maybe even top your gift off with one of our cityscape gift cards for extra brownie points.

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Harry Potter meets Escher - Inspired by Diagon House

Meha Hindocha
Back in April I set off to begin research for a new piece. I was meant to be drawing Edinburgh but then I walked down Victoria Street and eventually found the correct street level that led to Diagon House. From the moment I walked into the store I felt like I'd been transported into the world of wizardry. This shop was full of little trinkets, potions, wands, hot air balloons, little aeroplanes, propellors and all sorts of creations from across the world. Two floors of little gems I could spend hours scouring through. As I wandered through archways and up and down the staircases discovering all the Harry Potter goodies I knew this was going to be the starting point for my Edinburgh range. Diagon House (established in 1823 as Museum Context - a name it has since reverted to): I was aware that J K Rowling had written much of Harry Potter in Edinburgh and I could see so much inspiration from this city in the books and films. My little tour of Edinburgh included potential venues / areas that could have been the basis for various parts of the books. After much research I know that a number of places have been connected to form the final images but Edinburgh and particularly Victoria street seemed to fit my vision of Diagon Alley perfectly. If you've been to Edinburgh you'll appreciate the staircases and multiple levels the streets are on. Edinburgh was always going to be the city I attempted to style into an Escher based piece and Harry Potter with it's hidden magical dimension fit the bill perfectly. I've based this drawing on MC Escher's lithograph print Relativity. This was a challenge from the very beginning as Escher is a technical master of perspective and I was moving from a series of one point perspective drawings to an isometric style piece. For my first attempt at such a complex perspective drawing I hope I've done it some justice. (If you're not familiar with MC Escher's work please do look it up). I began this drawing with a Penrose triangle and worked in the staircases at the different angles that I wanted them. This is a lot more complex than it looks! As all my initial drawings are in black and white it does really play havoc with the way you see things - one moment the angle looks correct - the next you take a step back and perspective's change again. Early stage sketch in pencil. On the right hand side you have the Diagon house building. THe first floor is cut off by a different perspective of the top half of the building, that leads into the top left hand side. If it all gets too confusing have a look at the final image annotated below. The final drawing with my annotations: The entire drawing is based on the inside of Diagon house, the front view and Victoria street. Based on the image above (final drawing)- the top left hand side of the drawing is the inside of the shop and Victoria street on the right hand side. The drawing changes perspective at the top of the stairs and introduces another plane. The stair case in the middle has a more of a floaty feel to it giving the impression that it is part of the wall that joins on to the fire place but also disappears once its visitor has left. Technical stuff: Paper used: Bristol Board 280gsm Pen: Kuretake Bimoji fude felt tip brush pen. Overview: I don't think Bristol board suits the wear and tear impacts of my drawing style but I'll definitely be using it for sketches. The Kuretake comes well reviewed and was my first attempt at using a brush pen. I usually use solid nib pens and have a single thickness in line throughout the piece. As a brush pens its pretty easy to handle and get used to. I struggled a little with the architectural elements probably because I'm used to applying more pressure but it definitely helps with more fluid work. To view the Harry Potter meets MC Escher range of products, click here.

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London - where do you begin?!

Meha Hindocha
I grew up in suburban Nairobi and I remember one of my first visits to London as a young child. We'd landed at Heathrow and my uncle, Ramesh, had kindly picked us up. On what felt like a really long way back to Finchley we began planning our trips to central London. "I'm taking you to Buckingham palace tomorrow, it's the Queen's house. Maybe, if she's free we can have some chai nasto (tea and snacks) with her and then take a boat trip along the river Thames." Part of this trip also entailed stopping off at Trafalgar Square to feed the hundreds of pigeons that would flock there, visiting Madame Tussauds where I could not believe how real the wax models looked (I did get to meet a version of the Queen after all.) That trip also included my first experience of a planetarium, sparking a life long fascination with the stars and space exploration. Many years later I moved to London to do my foundation course at Camberwell college and explored the city from a completely different perspective. I spent hours doodling away at the Horniman gallery, Natural History Museum and probably had my first attempt at drawing Dippy. I saw my first musical - The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre, was completely blown away and briefly contemplated a career in theatre set design. I spent a lot of my days sneakily doodling commuters on the London underground, watching street artists perform in Convent Garden and the South Bank. If you're familiar with my work you'll know I like to fill my work with obscure little elements... London was proving to be a massive challenge and one I kept putting off. I have so many memories of London and I wanted to fit them all in! I had hundreds of suggestions from people about where to start and end the piece. I had to take a slightly more scientific approach to this drawing. I drew the ten tallest skyscrapers that were based within zones 1 and 2, I don't think I've previously appreciated quite how tall the Shard is! A number of must have tourist venues from the London Dungeons to Tower Bridge and set a map size limit to work off. There is a plan to draw more of the surrounding zones over the next few years. I've had numerous requests for Brixton, The London Zoo, Camden and Hampstead... if would like to add any suggestions please add them to the comments below. I can also personalise the prints if you would like a particular venue or message added. I've provided an annotation below of my version of the London skyline. The annotation sheet is available with my London colouring in sheet. Discover our London collection.

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