Mele de la Yglesia is a Spanish artist from the south of Spain, Cadiz. She moved years ago to Berlin and as it happened to many of us in Berlin, life happened to her and ended up growing a family and staying in the city. At Artconnect we first met Mele at the very beginning of the platform, around 2011. Now, we are collaborating to sell some of her exclusively produced artworks for our new shop.
During these past years, she has been working hard on her style and particularly, perfecting her hand steadiness, which is the most important factor in her work. It’s funny when I see one of her old artworks and I say “I really do love this one” and she is like “oh my god, I am so embarrassed when I see this, look at the lines, my hand was really not so steady at that time”. I am so surprised when she says that, superficially it all looks the same, but you get a bit closer, and it really doesn’t, there is a big difference. The artworks she produces nowadays, are much much tighter and cleaner. Somehow, the feeling the artworks transmit changes.
Something that is particularly interesting about Mele’s drawings is how spontaneous they are and how not spontaneous they look. When you see such complex shapes, you wonder how she does it. You would imagine she does some previous drawings, but she actually doesn’t. The most she does is to do some very very light geometrical shapes with pen on a piece of paper and she starts almost directly with the ink pen. And there it’s all about concentration and letting it go. She draws for hours non-stop, listening to music under a spotlight on her drawing table. One imagines that she probably gets bored to death while drawing these thousands of lines, dots and circles, but to her is a form of meditation and decompressing.
I once asked her if she is not scared of committing mistakes and she gave me such a simple answer, that it made me realize how she carries her culture deep inside of her and helps her navigate through life in a smooth and easy way. She said “If I commit a mistake, I somehow fix it and keep on going. So is also life. Mistakes are not the end, they are just a little bump in the path. My mistakes are all integrated in my art”.
Being an artist is not an easy thing. Why did you choose this lifestyle? Are you happy with it?
In fact, I think being an artist is an easy thing, at least for me! Because it is what I do the best! What I find difficult it’s to live from that, if you don’t know how to sell yourself, which is a very common problem for many of us. I personally know good what to do, or even better how to do that, but I normally struggle to make money out of it.
I chose this lifestyle because it is what it really makes me feel good. I’ve had in the last years many different jobs, and even if I liked them, I always had the feeling that they were not what I really needed. Right now and more than ever before, I spend as much time and effort as I can (I have to share the energies between my career and talking care of my 2 years old daughter) in doing what I really love to do, which is being creative. And yes, I am happy with it, because even if it’s not giving a lot of money at the moment, I know everything is still to come.
You seem to have a very particular style. Where does your inspiration come from?
Well, everything started during my university time. I always loved to draw but this line-style is something that I stared by chance, and during the last eight years it was becoming what it is today.
I started drawing very simple line drawings, always abstract forms and very often also women. More like illustrations mixing nature elements and women (I don’t really know why but if I draw human figures, they are always women…). By the time, they were becoming more complex. When I came to Berlin I started to experiment with different materials and formats, I started to get more inspiration from the internet, from other artists, but always trying to not get too far away from my own style (which is very difficult nowadays…). Now I get inspired mainly by nature and botanical elements, I also love to mix them with geometric forms, which gives the drawings this “space-less” effect, but ye, I guess it is part of the process, is the natural development which never stops!
I have to add, Modernism was also a huge inspiration since I started. I really admire how the artists of that period found such a perfect balance between nature and geometry (in all the fields…) Wow, they were amazing. I think my style has something from it. At least I wish!
When you draw, it almost feels like if you were meditating. How does your creative process work?
It is actually a meditation for me. I always say that to draw for me is to find the peace, to find the time for myself, to travel deep into my thoughts without being distracted. I love the whole process, I love to find the right papers, to see how the drawing grows from nothing (I normally draw without any pre-sketch), to find new elements and make them fit all together, trying to create an abstract harmony. It is also very interesting and gratifying to see how my hand get better the more I practice, (obviously!) and to see how the lines flow softer and better through the paper gives me energy to keep drawing more and more.
What would you say to those who want to buy your artworks? What are they taking home with them? What does an artwork mean to you?
I think when people buy art they are always buying a piece of the history of the artist, a part of him/her, a moment of his/her life and a concrete situation on time where this artwork was, first thought and developed and then created.
I think my drawings are very decorative and they work very good by themselves, but of course if these people who is buying a drawing would know how many hundreds of hours I spent during basically all my life drawing, practicing, searching and experimenting. If they would know this drawing they are taking home is a project of life, my own project of doing what I think I do the best, the decision of keep doing what it makes me feel good as a human being, because this is what they are. They are memories, they are time and patience. They are my vision of the world, and not only the drawing itself, but the whole process which brought it right there, at that moment, when this people is looking at it.