Melbourne-based NZ artist Philippa Riddiford has the kind of irrepressible style that can’t be taught or imitated. She started her creative career working in fashion, then moved on to run her own successful brand for many years, expressing her bold and playful signature aesthetic through the design of jewellery. But with her passion for drawing and painting, for experimenting with colour and shape, it was only a matter of time before she made the leap into full-time fine art creation.
Philippa in her home studio
For years you worked in retail & wholesale as a designer, stylist and buyer of your own successful costume/fashion jewellery business. How and why did you make the switch to fine art? What inspired you to take this step and what would you say to others dreaming of making a career leap to follow their artistic passions?
I made the change to fine art after I wound up my retail business. I made the decision that I wanted to simplify my life and I decided I wanted to work from home. Working from home meant that I could develop my painting, drawing and other skills without the expense of working from a studio elsewhere. For those wishing to take a career leap to following their artistic passions…I say organise yourself and just do it. Do the maths and go ahead, it is never too late to make a change; passion, determination, perseverance and a desire to follow ones dreams… and never give up!
Can you tell us a bit about your process – from inspiration to finished piece, including what techniques you use to achieve your aesthetic…
I am inspired by everything around me but I mainly gain inspiration from my imagination. The techniques I use to create my work are many and varied but they start off with and can include acrylic, spray paints, drawing with pencils, crayon and textas (or vivids as they say in NZ). I also love playing around with cut outs of different shapes, patterns and colour. These raw creations are then photographed and loaded into a computer graphics program to be worked on further.
Philippa working (playing!) with card cut-outs and then spray-painting these in her backyard.
Describe your work in 4 words:
Contemporary, whimsical, colourful, playful.
Where do you create? Do you play music while you work? What inspires you?
I create in my studio at home; I generally like a quiet environment when I am working, this way I can fully concentrate on the job in hand…so to speak. This allows my imagination to run amuck! I find contemporary artists working in many mediums inspire me; I have always preferred artists who push the boundaries and are not afraid to experiment. A couple of these whose works I love are Amy Sillman’s and Sarah Boyts Yoder’s work, I love the way they play with abstract shapes and colour.
What are some of the favourite things you have on your own walls at home?
For starters I have many of my artworks framed up on my walls (I have been working as an artist for 10 years) plus also an eclectic mix of other artist’s works that I have picked up over the years.
Philippa uses a huge variety of mediums in her work; a happy explosion of colour, shape and pattern
What would be a dream collaboration/project you’d love to do?
I would have loved to have lived in New York City in the 60’s when Andy Warhol and his team were gaining momentum with their work and events. It was a truly revolutionary time and it would have been enormously stimulating & fun to have been there then. I always saw NYC as the epicentre of all things new and creative. I still wouldn’t mind spending a year in NYC renting a studio and just going for it! I might just do that if I can persuade my husband to come along too!
Tell us about a good book to read, a website to check out and a place to visit…
I am a huge reader of novels; I love mostly contemporary writers, Anne Tyler’s ‘A Spool with Blue Thread‘ which has just been published I found delightful to read.
A website I feel is worth checking out is We Heart.
I am a great fan of NYC should certainly be a must for everyone to spend time in at least once in their lifetime. I spent many years going there for my business and found it a most inspiring, exciting and stimulating city… and very easy to get around! There is always something going on in New York!
Four of our fave Philippa Riddiford art prints – top row: With Flying Colours No. 3 and Gambado; bottom row: Hubble Bubble and Hang Low. The full range of Philippa Riddiford art prints are available unframed, or framed in black or white box-style frames.