ArtCan are pleased to introduce you to our artist Meriliis Rinne. Originally from Estonia, Meriliis studied law before deciding she wanted to be an artist. She now lives and works in Windsor, UK.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am an Estonian artist living and working in UK. I did study Law first as Art was not acceptable choice by my family but on the other hand it deepened my interest in paradoxes and social pressure, topics I attempt to solve as a self-taught painter. Drawing or painting has been a language for me to communicate through since I was really young. I was fascinated by how a painted image can create feelings on others.
But I did not have a dream of becoming an artist – I could say it happened organically… It feels like it was there for me and I had just been using it for having fun. Especially when I drew all my classmates’ art tasks, as they were struggling to get them done, and our teacher was impressed by my mates’ drawings. I enjoyed knowing that they all were made by me and exhibited all together on the same wall. But of course it took me time to realise that I am an artist.
After my law studies and having an art studio in Tallinn I decided to move away from home because of my art. I needed to see if my works would be welcomed outside of Estonia, as it is such a tiny place, and I felt I needed a change. So I came to London to explore being an artist.
Tell us a bit about your practice.
I work on many different themes, but the most known one is my Femme series where the focus is on the personality and identity of others and I question how to be artist, woman and human at the same time. For some time I have been painting situations in my studio relating to my life and myself as if it was a journey; at the same time I have been indirectly discovering how much my childhood and the end of the Soviet era really affected my understanding of beauty and ugliness.
I remember how, back in the past, a pink skipping rope someone sent to the children next door from America gave me a shock. Because I had never seen pink before! The shock was induced by the uniform brownness of the environment back then. Similar memories have shaped my coded relationships with other colors, for instance yellow or black.
I like to start from nothing and even to make my own canvases. I like to keep my art in wabi- sabi. The imperfection is often a great part of my works. I believe that re- using and recycling from the environment when creating my works today is my responsibility as an artist. So not long ago the materials became important part of my art practice too. I work with acrylics and oils but also using what I can from the environment to recycle – from newspapers or burlap coffee bags to electronic pieces to make art.
What inspires your work? Are there any particular artists/movements that have influenced you?
It was futurism I was really impressed of hen I was young. I liked the idea of the light bulb having a soul. After all, that is what my robot series is about. Of course people inspire me as well – the real communication and connection.
And inspiring artists… Louise Bourgeois – she found that the only way is to transform hate into love! I had this scribbled on my studio wall: “Turn hate into love” and I have spent a lot of time thinking about this quote. Besides Bourgeois, I take inspiration from another American artist, Jean-Michel Basquiat, whose use of materials as presented at his show gave me confidence to experiment with different textures.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am setting up my new studio as I moved from London to Windsor about a year ago now and it has taken some time to adjust. I finally have again a space to work…and I don’t have to clean my cats’ footprints anymore. Working at home was fun but I really need that separation otherwise I didn’t rest. I am also trying to finish a series of prints from old favourite works which are already sold. And starting an entirely new series of works as I have a show coming up in January and April 2020.
Are you a full time artist? How do you balance work life and creating art?
Yes and No. Being a full time artist sounds like a dream and amazing and easy life but there is a lot of work and discipline behind the scene going on- I don’t think I ever had a day off whilst being full time artist. I have to admit that I was jealous of people who worked 9-5 and they had weekends off, holiday pay and also credit cards and a mortgage and could afford to buy my work.
After moving to London and living there for couple of years I realised sustainability is one of the essential needs for an artist and some environments let you be more sustainable than others so there was a need to adapt. Every now and then I do have a job aside to help my projects and to invest in my materials or put my shows up. And then I fully focus on my art again.
Most important is to keep it going no matter whether you are full time artist or not because everyone’s art practice has different distractions and troubles. Even if you have your notebook with you and you do a daily doodle – even that matters to keep the art pulse beating till you are back fully…
One more thing I used to judge – but I don’t anymore – is if someone is tired and stays home eating junk food and watching TV all day. Sometimes to exist is hard enough! I have also felt tired in a rat race but that sketchbook on my knee, sitting on a busy bus during rush hour kept me happy. Luckily we artists are so great escaping from that…
What advice would you give to a young artist?
I am really bad at taking advice myself, especially when I was younger. The one thing I have been told is to not take yourself too seriously – that was good advice and I would pass that one on! Also everything is pretty much done and many times copied too- just to be true and honest to yourself.
What do you enjoy most about being an ArtCan Artist?
Since joining Artcan I have had more opportunities to show my work in great places. I have many unforgettable memories of shows and I have met lots of nice people. For me ArtCan is like a spider web. A network of many levels of great people, not just artists but supporters, critics and art lovers and that all makes it really enjoyable for artists.
Find out more about Meriliis’s work here: www.meriliis-rinne.com