How This Sydney Visual Artist Inspires Connections Between People And Culture Through Her Art

Humans have been drawing and illustrating since before we were even human — ancient cave paintings being a prime example of this ingrained need for creative expression to manifest in the visual form.

This is part of the reason I am so in awe of people who can skilfully express themselves through visual art. How is it that, despite how long humans have been expressing themselves visually, that styles continue to be invented, that each artist has their own distinct style; their own unique visual “voice”?

It’s pretty neat if you ask me. You know what else is neat? Maya Brasnovic, an Illustrator and graphic designer with a distinct style of visual art and a passion for lettering and typography.

Utilising acrylic markers and digital devices as her preferred medium, Maya loves exploring different universes to make connections between culture, content and people. 

We caught up with Maya to find out what inspires her, her creative process, and creating with meaning.

PTV: Hey Maya, what does creativity mean to you?

Maya: It means thinking out of the box, being innovative and using that to express yourself.

How would you describe your style? 

Typography and illustration are my passion, but my style also changes depending on what I’m inspired by in the moment. I love experimenting with new mediums and trying out something different, or learning a new technique. 

Where do you draw inspiration from? 

I definitely seek beauty in the most mundane things, it could be anything from a bit of graffiti to a milk carton. I think it’s just being curious about what’s around you. So part of that is taking the time to have a look and then pause to look a little closer — which is actually a lot harder than it sounds. We’re always rushing from one place to the next and it’s a little awkward when people notice you’ve been staring at a milk carton for what seems a tad too long…

What initially inspired you to pursue a creative medium?

I’ve always wanted to do something in a creative field. When I was really little I said I’d either be a farmer — because I loved being around animals — or an artist. I don’t regret my choice, but I still love animals. 

What are the essential tools you use to help your work come to life? 

The notes app on my phone, which syncs up with my tablet. This way I can jot down any spur of the moment ideas, and when I’m back home it’s all there waiting for me on the tablet — along with any photos that might spark inspiration. A tablet and pen to sketch out my ideas and to illustrate the final.

What does your creative process look like? 

I like to work in a series — so coming up with an idea about what I’d like to say, choosing a colour palette and aesthetic, and then expressing that idea in various ways. It’s not foolproof and often means I have to start from scratch a few times before I get it right. But if it works out and the idea can be expressed in many ways, I know I’m onto something good — and that’s really rewarding.

What piece of work are you most proud of? Can you describe the story behind it?

I’m currently working on a series about what it means to be a feminist and feminine at the same time — which is something I’ve been thinking about for a while but never really knew how to join the conversation. 

Rewatching shows and movies like Buffy, Kill Bill, Mulan, Clueless and Legally Blonde really got me thinking: why are the lead characters still so popular? I think it’s because they’re all really powerful women who just want to live a “girl’s” life. They weren’t always perfect, they had their weak moments and they were just human.

Being around a really inspirational team at work helped me finally find the courage to create a series of illustrations touching on various topics that embrace the fact we can be feminine and “girly” but still support equality and women’s rights. It’s been really fun looking at pop culture for inspiration and throwing in some art references as well. I’m most proud of it because it’s a topic that needs a voice and something a lot of us can relate to.

What are some of the biggest challenges that come with creating? 

Creative block is a huge one. We all know about that daunting feeling of staring down at a blank canvas. But there’s also the sneakier creative block that pops up when you’re halfway through a project, and you start questioning if what you’ve created so far is what you initially imagined. Sometimes you just need to take a break, get caffeinated, chat to some friends, and clear your head.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to start creating visual art? 

I’d say take time to find out what you’re passionate about, find a supportive community, and create for that. The beauty about the creative field is that there’s something for everyone. You could come across someone who sees your work and says “that’s not my cup of tea,” and that’s OK because we each have our own preferences — but then the next person you show will be absolutely obsessed with it. 

Are there any projects you’re working on at the moment you’d like to talk about?

To continue my series about Feminine X Feminist, I’m trying out the new Samsung S22 series. As part of my creative process, I need something that is flexible and seamless across all my devices. 

When I’m out and about the city looking for inspiration I’ll take a few photos of what I see around me. The other day I saw a “Britney Spears was here” graffiti tag, which reminded me that Britney Spears would be perfect inspiration for my next sketch. So I’ve queued up some Britney videos to watch on the bus home — with headphones of course.

The playlist has some ideas sparking, I’m thinking about how, as a teenage girl, she has literally become a cultural icon for generations — that’s powerful. I’ll have to sketch out a few things to see if I can make this a piece. 

Now I’m home and I’ve got some rough sketches, and other random bits of inspiration. I think I’m ready to make this come to life. 

To read up on other artists and their stories, head on over to our Going Beyond hub.

Feeling inspired? Check out the vast range of devices in the Samsung Ecosystem for all your creative needs — so you can be you, your way.