Miki Mackenzie is a current psychology honours student and artist. They specialise in bright, colourful, multilayered abstract pieces. Their art involves a variety of different mediums and materials, with a grounding in embroidery.
The cover piece ‘By the Sea Shore’ is a multi-medium piece inspired by a recent trip to Fiji, where Miki learnt to scuba dive. Each shell is its own underwater biome, encapsulating a multicoloured reef through thread, beading, glue, sequin and other found and repurposed materials. Each element builds upon the individual parts around it, engaging in a tactile conversation which transforms the singular components into a whole.
Miki has taken the time to answer some questions exploring their art, inspirations, creative process, and hopes for the future.
How does it feel to be chosen to be on the cover of swine?
It is very exciting! It feels like the stars aligned really nicely. I was already working on my shells when I found out the theme. I finished up the piece just in time to submit them to swine. Being asked to be on the cover of the digital issue was something I never expected and is a huge honour.
Were you particularly crafty as a kid?
I was definitely a very crafty/arty child. I remember asking for a lot of art supplies for Christmas and my birthday and such. My mum is also very crafty, and she was always sewing or knitting something. She definitely encouraged any sort of artistic expression and we had so many craft and art supplies to explore at home. I used to be very into making beaded jewellery as a kid, and even had a rather unsuccessful stall at a school fair to try to sell said jewellery. It feels very full circle that I now incorporate beading rather heavily into my embroidery work.
Was embroidery an instant love for you?
I want to say that it’s something that I found a love for very quickly. I can’t even really remember what prompted me to ask my mum to teach me in the beginning. There have been periods of time where I’ve sort of put it to the side for months or I think even at one time a year or so, but it’s something that I do keep going back to consistently.
What were your early pieces like compared to your style now?
There is quite a stark contrast between my work when I first started and my work now. When I first started embroidery, my style was a lot more figurative and black line work than it is today.
As for my current art style, it’s something I’m really enjoying at the moment. All of my art is very bright, colourful, and abstract. When I look back and see how my style has changed over the years, it makes me excited to see where it will go.
Apart from embroidery, what have been your other creative joys?
If you name a medium, it’s likely I’ve tried it out at some point or another. I have gotten super into lino printing patches and making polymer clay jewellery in previous years. Painting is definitely another big love for me, acrylics, watercolour, gouache, all of which I have incorporated into my embroidery practice at one point or another. I’m constantly creating, you will always find me with at least five unfinished projects.
Where is your favourite place to embroider?
I’d have to say my loungeroom. I’ll generally be watching a trashy TV show or movie while creating. I make a nest with all the supplies I feel I’ll need for the project at hand, so I don’t have to disturb my cat, Cookie Cat, who can almost always be found sleeping on my lap (or he’s trying to eat my embroidery thread). I do also love to get outdoors and sit in the sunshine and embroider, although at the moment it’s a bit too cold for that.
How do you feel your piece reflect this issue theme of ‘Shell’
I’d say it’s a rather literal reflection of the theme of ‘Shell.’ There are actually six individual shells in the ‘By the Sea Shore’ piece. I was working on the first three when I saw a post asking for submissions for issue 3 of Swine, and I decided to finish off and submit those first three. It kind of felt like it was meant to be.
How has art fitted into your current studies, is it something you wish to pursue full time?
It would be a dream to be able to do art full time. I’m currently studying with the hopes of being a clinical psychologist. Being able to do that part time and art is something I’m hoping to do. I would also love to train in art therapy and to be able to incorporate that into my psychology practice in the future.
How long did it take you to create ‘By the Sea Shore’
People ask me this so often, I really need to sit down and time myself making a piece from start to finish one day. I’d say it took me maybe a week to make this piece, I did definitely focus on it in order to get it completed by the submission date. I often have many pieces on the go at once, and I just swap between them as I please. In terms of pure ‘time worked on project’ I want to say maybe 10 hours? But in all honesty, that’s a guess.
Do you have any advice/ anything you wish to say to fellow art makers, crafty people who are trying to start a business, or increase the visiblity of their work?
My advice for people when it comes to art is:
Art doesn’t have to be good to be worth making. For me, the joy is really in the process of creating, not just the end product. If you enjoy making things, do it. You don’t have to post it online or try to sell it, it can just be for you. As for getting your work more visible, obviously posting it online is pretty required there, but also, you have to be in it to win it. Submit your art to your student magazine, ask your local café if they’d be interested in hanging it up, or get into selling your things at markets. The worse they can do is say no.
Discover more of Miki’s work on Instagram: @miki.mac.stitches
Miki is also open for commissions through their website: mikimacstitches.square.site
Swine readers can get 10% off of purchases from Miki’s online stop, using the code SWINE10