Today we’d like to introduce you to Madeleine Eve Ignon.
Madeleine, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I was born and raised in LA, the youngest of four. I wanted to be an artist from an early age, and I’m grateful that my family unconditionally supported my efforts to actualize that vision. As a kid, I would get lost in my drawings for hours. I was a serious perfectionist; if I was working on a drawing of a person, I would spend a lot of time inventing a dress or filling in each strand of hair. I would be disappointed if it didn’t turn out “right.” Then when I was 6 or 7, I saw Picasso’s painting The Weeping Woman, and subsequently made many of my own versions. I was stunned by the way he ignored the “normal” arrangement of features on a face, and the liberties he took with color and line. That painting was an important message to me: art has no rules. As a kid who often failed math tests, that realization was a huge relief.
As a teenager, I studied portrait painting, and I majored in art in college, where I explored techniques like cyanotype and collage, and where I deepened my understanding of what it takes to make a body of work. After graduating from college in the throes of the recession, I started using my art skills to get work in graphic design and art direction. I worked at TCGstudio, a small motion graphics house in LA that mostly did opening title sequences for TV (you might be familiar with sequences I worked on for The Affair and Homeland). My boss/mentor Thomas Cobb taught me so much about design, typography, and creating things practically as opposed to digitally. Working there made me realize that my graphic design process didn’t need to be so separate from my attitude and approach in the studio. Around that time I also began to exhibit my work in LA at Gibson Gallery, Los Angeles County Store, and Keystone Gallery.
I went back to school to get my MFA from UCSB in 2017 because I wanted to be more fully immersed in my painting practice, and I was fortunate to be awarded funding that enabled me to do so, as well as the opportunity to teach undergraduate students. I still do freelance design work often, most recently branding and package design for goodboybob coffee in Santa Monica. A lot of my design mind has merged with my painting mind, which has made all the work stronger. I now find myself very lucky to have a steady schedule of teaching (I was awarded a teaching fellowship at UCSB), design work, and my studio practice.
Can you give our readers some background on your art?
I am a painter, but I also do a lot of collage, and I consider writing a large part of my practice. I often refer to my paintings as “psychic topographies” – my partner came up with that one – since they are large abstract painterly documents, with scrawled handwriting and letterforms, and they reference the landscape. As we increasingly communicate solely via screens, I am interested in the changing qualities, effects, and responsibilities of language and text – my own as well as that of the public sphere. I am interested in the impacts of text in different forms: text as image, redaction, letter anatomy and design, and hand-written text as a gesture. I’m always feeling nostalgic, so I want to honor the beauty, pace, and emotional nature of handwriting, epistolary communication, and journal-writing, while also extracting the meanings of digital text as it exists in and permeates our culture through the screen.
I’m always thinking about the messaging of popular culture media, specifically magazines, films, and advertisements. How does it form our ideas about things like gender, sex, love, relationships, and the world at large? How do we digest it? Writing and making paintings is my way of processing and breaking apart the structure, language, and meaning of that messaging, and keeping my eye critical.
My upbringing in Los Angeles also deeply inspires my work. Growing up a stone’s throw from the ever-rotating, in-your-face advertisements of the Sunset Strip, I basically learned to read sitting strapped in my parents’ backseat and spelling out the text on billboards. I loved counting the signs that broadcasted Angelyne, clever Absolut Vodka ads, and the Got Milk? and Think Different campaigns of the early and mid-1990s. LA is a living text-image collage: its disparate messages and images, countless styles of architecture, and strange spectrum of characters, both real and fictional, all seem to coexist in a way that follows its own kind of logic. I love that, and I often make work with this in mind, particularly lately as I’ve been exploring painting on repurposed billboards.
Any advice for aspiring or new artists?
To make work from a place of authenticity. I might call it making work from and in your own lane, and honoring your unique path. Practically speaking, being an artist takes hustle and being creative in how you get your work out to the world. There is no one way to be an artist.
What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
You can find me on Instagram @madeveart, and my website is madeleineignon.com. You can DM me or email me if you are interested in purchasing work, commissions, or want to work with me as a graphic designer.
I have a show at the Napa Gallery at CSU Channel Islands in Camarillo that runs from October 2nd through the 30th, with an opening reception on Thursday, October 10 from 4–7 pm. The show is called The Illusion Real, and it is a two-person show with Adam Jahnke.
Ellen Adams, Tony Mastres, Madeleine Ignon