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Conversations with Maddie Mae

Today we’d like to introduce you to Maddie Mae.  

Hi Maddie, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstories.
I bumped into illustration completely on accident. After realizing I was *not* cut out for studying science in college I took a look at the notes that I spent more time making look pretty and drawing out each muscle of the body than I spent studying the information. I realized I needed to be doing something in the creative world because I’ve been creating ever since I was a little girl and it’s what didn’t feel like work. I was drawn to digital art and design very quickly and have been following opportunities I’ve been given and slowly narrowing down what type of work I am passionate about. 

I spent some time in New York City living the dream of a freelance artist. Going to networking events, meeting up with other creatives, taking advantage of free museum days, feeling encouraged by the buzz of creativity that the city holds. I moved back to Michigan when NYC closed down from Covid and stayed put because I love living close to my family and have been building a community of entrepreneurs and clients based in West Michigan. 

In an ideal world, I’ll never have a “normal” 9-5 job, so instead, I work *all* the time. With long-term contracts for 3 Marketing Agencies as a Creative Designer, selling wholesale prints to stores, and breaking into the Art Licensing world I never find myself bored! 

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
The biggest struggle I’ve run into is not knowing any illustrators in “real life”. There are people in the business that I’m inspired by and get advice from through online platforms, but nobody I can call up and say “Hey, this is what’s up and I’d love some guidance.” I’ve overcome this through a lot of googling, reaching out to illustrators on social media, and a whole bunch of trial and error! 

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I’m the hand behind Maddie Mae Studios. I like to tell kids I’m a Professional Colorer (because that’s totally what I am!) Illustrated maps of states and cities are high up on my list of what I love to create. I also enjoy building a series of illustrations surrounding a certain topic. In reality, I’m still figuring out what I want to be my “thing” and embracing the journey of finding that. 

I’m proud of the development of my artistic style. It’s been developed through trying lots of different things, making pieces I don’t like, taking part in illustration challenges online such as #dtiys (Draw This in Your Style), and coloring at every moment my hands aren’t occupied. 

I’m looking forward to working more with companies for product packaging, merchandise production through art licensing, building my series of illustrated state maps, and seeing my work out in the world! 

We’d be interested to hear your thoughts on luck and what role, if any, you feel it’s played for you?
I’ve been really blessed by the opportunities that have been given to me and have worked hard to get to where I am today. That being said, a lot of the art world is being in the right place at the right time and with the right people. Sending a cold email right as Our Daily Bread was looking to involve smaller artists in their company God Hears Her led to a series of custom illustrations while many emails don’t even get a response if the company isn’t in the season of searching for new talent. 

Every working artist I’ve talked to has told me “You’re doing all the right things, keep doing all those things, it just takes one lucky break.” (So, if you can give me my lucky break, say hi!) 

I don’t take it for granted that I’ve been given a wonderful life and support system from my parents and well-timed freelance jobs that provide just the right amount of money at the right time by God that allows me to keep pushing forward with my illustration and building a career that doesn’t feel like work (all the time, let’s be realistic). 

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Image Credits

Deb Oliviara

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