From her less-than—subtle orange glasses to outrageous silversmith cupcake to the beads she’s known for, Eleanore Macnish better known as Ellie Mac oozes creativity and inserts massive doses of it into every project she undertakes. Our interview covered multiple topics and returned to a touchtone piece of advice that she gives as well as takes:
“Explore what sounds interesting to you, what resonates. Accept any opportunity.”
A former political researcher who lived in Washington, Ellie Mac today is all artist and all interested in the world around her. She lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
ME: What does creativity mean to you?
EM: “It is everything and everywhere, it is all consuming — the texture of seeds on a bagel, graffiti on a brick wall-the sounds, smells and sights of different cities and countries- personal history, sights and stimuli and how my brain translates it — that’s my creativity.”
ME: How did your art evolve and how have you evolved as a result?
EM: “As many times is the case, one thing leads to another. I took a glass bead making class in California about 20 years ago and it literally opened the floodgates for me. Glass was the perfect medium for me and the class happened at a time in my life when I had time to pursue it in an intensive way.”
For Ellie Mac, the immersion method (“Yes, constantly and consistently- anything I could get my hands on”) is how she experiences learning with her art. It allows her to make connections. One gets the sense she works in collections or series.
ME: Did you have an art focus as a child?
EM: As a child my parents and grandparents took me to museums. We traveled. We talked about cultures, history and highly unusual, nearly obscure things like fore-edge painted books . My Diorama books might be rooted in those conversations.
ME: How do you feel when you’re in your creative space and what does that feeling contribute to your end result?
EM: “Like many artists, I go into a kind of trance – “the zone”. Everything else falls away and I can work in a state of Zen like calm with laser focus and no sense of passing time.”
ME: Do you see an impact of fellow artists on you and your work?
EM: When I am learning a new medium, I am constantly looking at other people’s work to learn about techniques, possibilities, limitations, etc. Once I am familiar with a medium and am preparing to work on an idea, I don’t look at anyone’s work in that medium to prevent influence from outside. If my work looks like someone else’s, what’s the point of making it in the first place?”
ME: As an artist, are there doubts and struggles you face? Give me an example of courage in facing them.
EM: “My doubts and struggles at this point in my career come from being self taught. I look at the work of friends who have art degrees and I see a refinement and a knowledge that guides their work and is a springboard for ideas – although there is something to be said for uninformed creativity – trying something someone else would avoid because it shouldn’t work but it does!”
ME: How has your art changed your perception of the world and how the world sees you?
EM: Immersion in the arts and having access to different mediums allows you to make connections to things you would otherwise not really see or do – you just see things a little differently- and the more you explore, the more connections you make — kind of like going down the rabbit hole on Pinterest but on a larger scale.”
ME: What impact do you want to have with your art and on whom?
EM: “When you fall in love with an object it’s a form of creativity. When you respond emotionally, it’s creativity speaking to you, even though it’s not speaking through your hands. For me personally, I like making things that make people happy and that mean something to them.”