Words Isabella Davey
Almost saccharine sweetness meets cartoonish retrograde nostalgia meets truthfully raw sentiment? Its no wonder Magda Archer’s prints have been globally endorsed, subject to a collaboration with Marc Jacobs and spread on the front of The Times.
Magda’s prints have touched on an Achilles heel within us all – that desire to crawl into the skin of our youths and hibernate there for a while as we openly admit what is happening around us feels all too awful to face or think about right now.
It is her slogans however that crown her artworks, written in retrograde fonts and smacked in the midst of each piece that touch on emotions we are all feeling right in the present day, which is what gives her art a strange dichotomy between past romantically cartoonish nostalgia and our current undercurrent of anxious, angry and frustrated emotions. From a frolicking lamb announcing “my life is crap” to a duckling announcing to a cuddly toy bear “I’m feeling anxious and vulnerable”. The bear responds in the affirmative too: “we all are pal.”
What has Magda touched so poignantly on? Our fictional facades of outdated notions of happiness underlaid with the murky fears within us all? An ironic twisting of what we expect to see and what we are confronted with? Nothing is always as it seems?
How you choose to read Magda’s artwork is up to you – as is the beauty of art – but the grand appeal of Magda’s work is the universal relatability to not only our current lives under a pandemic, but also how we interact with others. Her advice, “stay away from toxic people”, is as true as he teddy trotting along, announcing “I’m sick of this shit”.
It’s about time we spelt out what we are all feeling bubbling under the surface.
We spoke to Magda about whether art was always her calling, what her process is, and excitement being on hold.
Talk us through your journey: did you always want to be an artist?
I wanted to be a singer or a vet when I was at school, not an Artist – well, not until the Sixth Form when I realised I couldn’t actually DO anything else.
You have both at once a deeply nostalgic and saccharine-ironic style: how did you develop your artistic aesthetic?
How does anyone develop a style? It’s not noticeable, it’s something that changes, that develops, all the time. Simply put, I paint what I would like to see. My paintings tend to be little references to things that are happening to me. Why they look how they look is a bit of a mystery to me, but they have evolved. That’s the way it works. I like bright, cheerful colours and I do laugh when things go wrong in my life – so I guess these things come out in what I am painting.
What do you want your audience to take away from your work? It’s nice if my paintings appeal, if they resonate with people. I’m happy if they are liked by whatever age group for whatever reason, but if people don’t like them I don’t lose any sleep over that.
How did the partnership with Marc Jacobs come about?
A stylist working with Marc Jacobs had seen my work on instagram – I don’t know whether it was because I had made some t-shirts and some people in fashion had started wearing them, or because I knew some people in fashion who liked my paintings & prints, but Instagram definitely had something to do with it.
Have you seen any changes in your practice since the onset of C19 in your direct environment?
Everything has changed, and so many things are on hold. I find the whole vibe very difficult to take in right now. I suppose we’re all trying our best not to concentrate on ‘when will it end?’.
What is your favourite colour combination?
My favourite colour combination at the moment is pink and yellow.
What was the last thing that made you excited?
Excitement is kind of on hold for now. I’ve felt happy at times, but not excited. Maybe if they come up with a vaccine for this thing…?