behind the brush with Maggie Sanger

Welcome to Behind the Brush, where we offer a peek behind the curtain through the voices of talented artists within our community. This week, we’re chatting with Maggie Sanger, the Nashville native whose geometric and vibrant artwork can be seen across a multitude of mediums and platforms.

You have an extensive and impressive background in interior design — from your education to early career opportunities. What type of role have those experiences played in your development as an artist? Or do you consider them to be two totally different fields?

Art and design feel like the same language to me. All of the elements in a space are connected and in communication with each other, so whether I’m styling a retail or residential space or creating a site-specific mural, I’m thinking about the room as a whole, taking cues from established design elements. I’m considering shapes, patterns, textures, and light — all of these details that coexist to create an engaging space.

A lot of your artwork is geometric or based on vibrant shapes and colors. Has this always been a core element of your artistic style, or is this something that you developed over time?

I wasn’t brave enough or confident enough in my work early on to explore a style or medium that I was interested in. Working in the retail world for almost 8 years, creating window displays and painting large scale marketing walls offered me the freedom to explore a range of styles and materials and help me grow as an artist and find my own style. In the years I spent making work for these amazing companies, alongside creatives I admired so much, the more confidence I had to work on and present my own ideas.

What was your takeaway from our collaboration on the Nashville Tanger Outlets activation? We’re still admiring your beautiful mural!

We created one of the best art walks in Nashville — the shopping *almost* feels secondary to the 15, larger-than-life mural activations. For a company to support that many artists in one place is huge.

My favorite part though was the little community we created during our installs. Its rare that I get to work alongside so many other artists at the same time, in the same place. I got to meet a handful of artists from across the country whose work I’ve admired and followed online. I also got to paint next to a lot of local friends, which is rare too, as we’re usually not on the same job sites.

It feels like Nashville has experienced a lot of changes over the years. As a native, what’s your view on the city? How integral has that community been to your artwork and the inspiration behind it?

I love Nashville. I loved growing up here and it’s been fun to witness its evolution. There are growing pains, no denying, but the growth has brought new energy, new friends, and so many opportunities. I think my family is still shocked sometimes that I make a living as a full time artist. And I have friends who are chefs, designers, musicians, photographers, small business owners who say the same thing; Nashville supports us and our dreams.

(And the amount of good food we have here now is — amazing, incredible chefs almost outweigh the growing pains.)

That’s not really about my artwork, but I will say that as big as Nashville has gotten, it still feels like a small town at times. The art and design community is so tight and supportive; its felt easy to make connections and thrive here as an artist.

What communities or groups of people do you rely on when dealing with creative blocks? Where, or who, do you pull inspiration from?

I am lucky to have a number of work-friends turned friend-friends who are designers, architects, and fellow creatives in town. We meet as often as 3-9 people with full lives can get together. Getting their perspectives on projects is invaluable. We’re in different disciplines, but like we talked about earlier, the language is the same. (Shout out to Girl’s Night.)

There’s also no comparison to printed material. I feel like I see the same images circulating on Pinterest and social media, and while I still use digital media for pulling inspo and putting together mood boards, sourcing images from books or magazines, or a record store can feel like a secret weapon.

Viewing art in real life is also unparalleled. Museums, fairs, gallery shows, seeing the real thing hits different.

Are there any specific takeaways or feelings you’re hoping to bring out of people when viewing your art? Or does this always vary depending on the project?

Because I’m mostly creating site-specific art, the takeaways from each are going to be different. As a whole though, my aim is always to create a one-of-a-kind visual experience that is true to the client and the space and the story we’re trying to tell.

Your art has never been limited to just walls. Do you have any new mediums or boundaries that you’re hoping to push in 2024?

I’m painting a pool next month which is something I’ve always wanted to do — so that’s a dream surface-design project.

I’m interested in working with new materials this year too. Anything that lets me explore added texture and dimension to a traditional mural. I definitely want to continue to explore three-dimensional shapes and I’ve been keeping an eye out for a surface design project that could incorporate tile as well!

Tell the people where they can follow you and keep up with your journey!

Happily, check out @maggie_sanger on Instagram and my website, www.maggiesanger.com

 

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