Home-grown artist making an impact

Ferntree Gully based Cat MacInnes was part of the ACMI Goddess exhibition. PICTURE: STEWART CHAMBERS 386368_01

By Tyler Wright

Growing up in a creative household allowed Ferntree Gully based illustrator Cat MacInnes to foster her love and interest in art.

“I was lucky in that way that I was brought up in a really creative household where I was actually encouraged to focus on art,” MacInnes said.

“My dad was an artist and mum was a ceramics teacher, so we were just surrounded by art books and mum and dad encouraging me to draw and everything.”

Wanting to be a fine artist, MacInnes went on to study graphic design at university in hopes it would provide her with more business opportunity, but said graphics did not “come naturally”.

“Doing typography and layout and things like that, I always just went back to drawing and painting,” she said.

“I was awarded a study grant at uni at Swinburne, you need to go and study in South

Korea at the Fine Art College and that’s where that’s where I got into my internship, and that’s where I realised I just wanted to focus on illustration rather than graphics and logo design.”

Since arriving back in Australia and graduating in 2004 with a focus on illustrating and painting, MacInnes has been painting works for companies including job search engine Seek.

Recently, her work was featured on a series of greeting cards launched by Australia Post, alongside seven other ‘home-grown’ artists and inspired by Australian landscapes and botanicals.

MacInnes drew the eastern quoll, the honey eater and a turtle to highlight endangered native animals, as well as floral works set to be developed into a wrapping paper design.

More than 450 post offices nationwide are set to stock the cards.

“It’s always been a dream of mine to do some work with Australia Post, so that was really exciting” she said.

“[I] went into Australia Post and saw them all there with all the other designers’ cards; It was a real thrill for me, It was definitely a major career highlight.”

Another milestone in MacInnes’s career is her role in the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI)’s Goddess: Power, Glamour, Rebellion exhibition; with her drawings of pioneering women including Marilyn Monroe, Geena Davis and Michelle Yeoh in an exclusive collection of prints and postcards for the exhibition which celebrated the women and gender-transcending figures who made an impact on and off screens.

“It felt really cathartic and empowering working on the Goddess range. Since I was a child, I’ve been aware of the double standards for men and women and the fight that women have to make for equality or just to be heard,” she said.

“To celebrate these women for what they stand for and what they’ve fought for, not only their creative achievements, felt really good.”

While it was hard to pick a favourite portrait from the project, MacInnes said her drawing of actress and singer Mae West topped the list.

“I didn’t labour over it too much, and I think I captured her pretty well.

“She was a pioneer for women who dared to be sexy and sassy and own it, with no shame around it.”

Geena Davis herself even ‘loved’ MacInness’s portrait on Instagram and shared it on her page, which was a “major thrill” for the illustrator.

“I brought my mum and my two daughters to see the show and it was really exciting for the kids to see my work up there and in my name on it,” MacInnes added.

“I still get a real thrill whenever I see a printed book or my work up in a gallery or on the mural or out in the wild; it’s really exciting, and a friend might see a card or they’ll buy a poster at ACMI and they’ll send me a photo; I love that, it makes me really happy.”

MacInnes said a “huge dream” of hers would be to one day design a stamp for Australia Post.

“I love the idea of a tiny work of art being sent around the country (or world) on alittle adventure!” she said.

Closer to home, it is her surrounds in her home town of Ferntree Gully that also help inspire her work.

“Sometimes when I’m walking the dogor walking up in the mountains just behindour house I actually stop and take photos ofplants and little flowers and creatures that I see just to get the urge to draw,” she said.

“I am really inspired just living in the hillsand being surrounded by nature.”

To keep updated on MacInnes’s projectsand works, you can visit her Instagram at the handle catmacinnes.

Her prints from Goddess: Power, Glamour, Rebellion can be viewed and purchased at shop.acmi.net.au/collections/cat-macinnesx-acmi