Rosell Flatley is the artist behind Rosell’s Creatures—female characters painted by Rosell who represent the many influential women in her life, past and present.
A muralist with a background in graphic design, Flatley creates something every single day—be it a huge mural or a tiny notepad scribble. We spoke to her about her process, the Sydney art scene and how bloody hard it is to be a woman in the art world.
If you want to follow your creative instincts and make art for a living, Rosell has some wisdom to impart.
Did you always know you wanted to be an artist, and when did the evolution from graphic designer to artist begin?
I always knew that I wanted to be involved in the creative field. I have come 360 degrees, I started to take art seriously 7-8 years ago and then transferred to graphic design four years ago. I now spread my time across both fields.
You paint murals and smaller works. Do you have a preference when it comes to working on a larger or smaller scale?
I don’t have a preference as I enjoy both and each has it’s own challenges and rewards. I made a decision last year to start transferring my artwork onto a larger scale. One of the reasons was that after a show or exhibition, some of my artworks got put away in storage and I felt my creatures were lonely.
Finding opportunities to create murals for local businesses or being able to put my artwork on external walls for the community to enjoy keeps my creatures in the spotlight rather than storage.
Who are your creatures and where do they come from? Do they all have names?
My creatures are a mix of my emotions and feelings as well as the women who have influenced me throughout my life. I have only named one creature, ‘Adela’ which is my grandmother’s name and the woman who has had a huge influence on me. The rest don’t have names but each one reminds me of the people whom I was close to at the time.
Do you feel that the Sydney art scene is supportive of one another, and particularly of female artists?
In my opinion Sydney had lost its cultural vibrancy through a lack of strategic planning, investment and an apathy towards artists. I also feel that we are failing to engage and promote the creativity we have across our diverse communities. Female artists are getting through bit by bit but again there is not enough support.
What advice would you give someone on a similar journey as yours who wants to take their design skills and enter the art world?
It’s bloody hard! Be prepared for rejections, self doubt, late nights, admin work and financial difficulties. The most important advice I think is to commit to creating something every day, be it sketch, drawing, painting or other art form. I find it important to mingle with other artists, go to art shows or galleries and live and breathe the art scene.
You will gather strength and inspiration whilst meeting other artists, all who are going through the same highs and lows. The advent of social media means your website and social media pages need to constantly be updated and you should always have your business card at hand.
People need to remember that being a full time artist is also being a businessman/woman. You need to sell yourself and your artwork. Do not get attach to one of your works—remember people want to buy it because they had the connection. Oh, it’s also great to keep freelancing as a designer on the side to help you financially. I’m still doing it.