The “Track Light” series serves to briefly introduce a number of individuals involved
with the One World Artist Gallery (OWAG) from their various places around the globe.
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Today, I talk with Spanish illustrator and photographer María Uve.
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John: Hi Maria! I was excited when you first contacted me through Instagram about collaborating on a DrawBag.
María: John! Sorry for the delay in finishing everything.
John: No, no, you weren’t late. Everything is in it’s right time. I’m just happy to have connected with you.
John: I’ve recently made more contact with artists in Spain as there is quite a wealth of talent there. Elena Pancorbo had just finished an original design on a DrawBag before you and I first spoke, and Jesuso Ortiz was also a collaborator early on. What is the artistic community like where you are in Vigo?
María: Well… the truth is that I live in a part of my country with a very small artistic community. The larger groups of artists in Spain are really in the capital, but thanks to online social networks I have met artists of many nationalities and that has enriched me a lot.
John: The idea of community is continually being redefined in terms of its borders through technology, isn’t it?
María: Yes, and I think we should really support one other instead of competing because if our related community wins… really, we all win.
John: Where did you get your training as an artist and with what different media do you work?
María: I studied illustration, photography, and graphic design at EASD Antonio Faílde (School of Art & Design) in Ourense, Spain and have spent the past year and a half dedicating myself professionally to my profession– illustrating book covers, being exhibited in galleries, publishing my own book, and collaborating with various magazines.
John: Your style is quite recognizable. Were there other artists whose work influenced you in your own development of this style?
María: I think we are all influenced by everything. By other artists for their music, by the cinema, etc… I could not tell you specific names, though, because I try to escape the similarities.
John: I’ve been really inspired by a handful of female artists who I’ve discovered this past year primarily through Instagram… #zipcy and #littlethunder being two others beside yourself.
You are all quite different in expression, but seem to be similar in that your artwork embraces love, sexuality, the body, and emotional intimacy in ways that are neither prudish nor porn. Your work celebrates a genuine and nuanced eroticism that I think has otherwise been cheapened over time by happy endings to romantic comedies, free streaming porn, and the convenience store of online dating. Truly falling in love with oneself or others is not something we click to purchase, but must engage in with our whole being to experience both its heights and depths. But that’s my perspective, of course, haha. What is it that you are doing when you create your artwork? What are you communicating through it?
María: Obviously, artists expose themselves to having a free interpretation on the part of the receiver and that is inevitable. But yes… I am communicating precisely that which you just expressed: the importance of feeling good about oneself, experiencing love in healthy ways, de-objectifying the body as only a sexual object, making relationship a natural part of our conversation, respecting all kinds of people and all types of relationships, and breaking conventions and traditional values.
John: There are quite a few symbols and motifs you return to in your work, including what I assume to be the red thread of fate from Chinese folklore, creeping yellow vines, tiny phrases in blue on the body, the serpent, skeletons, and various images of the galaxy.
Can you share a bit about your wider perspective on life and why we are here? Where we are going? And how that is reflected in your current stage of art making?
María: Well, I wish I knew why we are here! I guess my perspective is as simple as finding happiness and satisfaction within myself, without hurting anyone or anything else.
John: Fair enough. I think a lot of young artists would be very jealous of the 300K followers you currently have on Instagram. How did you gather that global following? Did it take long for people to find your work on Instagram?
María: I think there are no jealous artists. We are all non-conformists. Perhaps we can get too focused on how things are going with others, but I always encourage artists to support one another and help share one another’s work with the world. I think everyone deserves to have the same possibilities for success.
And the truth is that I do not know how all my followers came about… but it was fast. In just over a year I suddenly went from having 150 “friends” to 300,000.
John: There can be fine line between genuine expression of oneself and finding a strong following in that… and then monetizing that expression into a product for sale which loses its original intent. How have you kept your artistic journey genuine and connected to its source?
María: I didn’t monetize my work until recently, when my first book was published. I always have some prints available for sale in case someone wanted them but I never advertised until now, because it has been important to grow my work first.
John: And how many new pieces of work do you make… say, per week?
María: One or two.
John: Tell me more about the book Nosotros which you recently published.
María: It’s about self-improvement after failed relationships. At the moment I do not have a version in English… only in Spanish. Everything in time, though.
John: What else fills your life besides from art making?
María: I love animals and nature in general… music, movies, reading, and traveling. Too many things and only one life!
John: You can see more of Maria’s illustration or photography via Instagram or Facebook, follow her on Twitter, or purchase her work here. Her recently published book Nosotros is also available in Spanish. Updates when available in English!