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Beach Meets : Maria Midttun

Maria Midttun is a Norwegian Illustrator living and working in London. She works on drawings, collages and paintings. Her brand has a fulfilling quietness to it: the noticeable use of the occasionally marginalised medium of charcoal lends a soft sketchiness to her pieces, that have been captured on a sizeable back catalogue of zines, calendars, cards and enamel pins. We’ve been following her work for sometime now and are thrilled to finally have her in for a ‘Beach Meets‘.

Hey Maria, how are you doing on this fine spring morning?

Hey! I’m doing good! I’ve just finished working on my first comic together with Blokk Forlag ( It’s about a lava rocks and part time jobs, and will be out sometime later this year.

You’re based in London, whereabouts does the magic happen?

I’ve been based in Bow for the past year or so. I work from home, so it’s all going on in my bedroom. A friend built a mezzanine so I use most of the space downstairs for making work and storing stupid amounts of paper.

Can you entertain our dear readers with any hidden funny/weird ways you keep work flowing in your space?

I spend a lot of time painting paper in various black textures and shades of grey which use for collages and keep in huge piles. Sometimes the entire floor is covered in drying pieces of black paper and I can’t go anywhere until it’s all dried. By chance I started using chalkboard paint for everything after painting my room one time. Mainly out of convenience, it was there in a large container and lasted forever, very practical. It also turned out to be a really nice surface to draw on so I stuck with it. I destroy all my paint brushes and mainly use tools I’ve made from scrap cardboard to make textures.

What’s not enough and what’s too much: we feel your work delicately tiptoe’s this line. Is achieving this balance a focal point for you when working?

I’m constantly trying to figure out the balance and trying to get it right. It’s a bit of trial and error of finding the right balance between what I’d consider overworked and unfinished, and for now I definitely lean towards the latter. To some extent it might be a time issue as well, I haven’t had loads of time to create work the past couple of years and been forced to find a way of working that is quicker (except from that part where I spend ages painting the paper black), which I guess most creatives have to do. I’ve recently gone freelance full time, but I don’t think I will ever make work that will take ages to finish, but I hope more time will allow me to create work that I feel is more complete.

We see consistent use of motif’s throughout your work, patterns that would usually be symmetrically confined being tilted and strewn but still offering visual weight, is there a deeper fascination with these?

I get really into drawing certain objects and patterns that I think translate well in my drawings, and I tend to revisit these regularly. I am definitely drawn to things that are naive, imperfect or just looks a bit off. Again I think it is about balance, and getting the right level of information when trying to draw something recognisable as well as limiting myself to lo-fi tools. Too informed and it loses something or too uninformed and it just looks really bad! I enjoy working with limitations and see what’s possible to make with what I got. 

You have a BA from The Arts University Bournemouth. How did you end up there? And you pop back from time-to-time to do a spot of lecturing?

Haha, I sometimes wonder myself! It was when I was still at school, some classmates told me about an education fair where you could just bring your portfolio and be offered a place on the spot at international universities. Although I knew I wanted to study abroad, I kind of went of for fun, but ended up saying yes to a place on the illustration course in Bournemouth. AUB seemed cool, and also turned out to be a really good course for me! I am really excited about being able to go back to teach, and also hang out with some of the tutors I had! 

It must be interesting to be able to tap into the new generation of students coming through the courses, do you notice many differences in them generally from when you were there? approach, ability, etc?

Mainly that they seem younger, haha, but I know that’s not true. It’s hard to say, I think so much went completely over my head when I was a student there. Anyway, it’s interesting to chat to them, see what engages them and what they make projects about, and also being able to follow their progress throughout the course.

Thanks Maria!


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Photography – Lenara Choudhury