On The Process
Maite Ortega, Tactility & Translating Music into Visual Art
Madrid based mixed media artist Maite Ortega gives old and often overlooked materials a second life. She’s introspective, allowing her surroundings and experiences to settle in and connect with her emotions. Through her personal explorations she creates artwork that resonates with her viewers, tapping into their unconscious and bringing buried ideas to the surface. and cements ideas beneath the surface. Her work is endearing and emotional and offers the viewer a look inside her private life and their own.
While in Madrid, we met Maite for tea and a treat. Her subtle shyness quickly faded as her enthusiasm and passion for her work took center stage. With thoughtfulness, she explains her creative process and the tactility of her work.
dimanche Where do you find your materials?
Maite It depends on the material that I am working with. I usually find them at the Sunday market in Madrid. If I want to work with thread, I usually buy it from different stores. My family also collected magazines from the 50s and 60s, so I often find my materials in them. When it’s a custom piece, they usually give me a photo to include.
d How do you decide what types of materials to use for each project?
M For each series it is different. For example, in the series: ‘sin título” I started with an assortment of pieces and then I removed the ones that were less useful or less meaningful. I collaborate with a feminist magazine called Proyecto Kahlo and depending on the theme that they have, I create a piece of work. It’s a very intuitive process. Basically the ideas come to my mind when I see the images or the materials on top of the table.
d Do you collect materials as you go or do you seek out materials once conceptualizing an idea?
M I sometimes collect materials, but I don’t necessary use them at that moment. When I see a material or a book or something that I really like, I buy it and I keep it. Sometimes it takes me a long time until I want to use it.
d When do you implement digital tools and when do you do things by hand?
M I rarely use digital, unless it’s a custom work that I need to retouch or when I can’t find something in real life, although that rarely happens.
d What does your creative process look like?
M When I collage, it’s like playing a game. But when I’m embroidering a picture, I need to spend more time thinking about things before jumping in.
d Where do you find inspiration?
M Everyday life is always a source of inspiration. However, outside of daily happenings, I find most of my inspiration in music and old creative techniques. I love art history and nature too. I work with a lot with trees and flowers, botany in general.
d What is the most challenging part of collage art?
M I find it challenging to communicate the meaning behind my work to other people. My style can appear simple and sometimes I am afraid that it will not tell a story to my viewers. And of course there is the challenge in composing. When I create a series, it’s very hard to fit all the pieces together and know how to put them together in a way that is well composed. It is really a matter of trial and error.
d Can you explain the process behind your collection *SIN TÍTULO*?
M I listen to music every day, from the minute I wake up until I go to bed. One day I decided to do a collage after listening to the same song on repeat. I did a collage that reflected my emotions and my feelings about that song. When I finished I wrote the name of the song below, scanned it and then added it to a list on Spotify. Shortly after, I received an email from a guy asking me if I could do the same with a song that he liked and I started doing that for more people. I think it’s beautiful how you can create an image from a song. It’s become an ongoing project.
d How did this develop into the project “una moneda, un baile”?
M It is the same idea that I used with “sin título” but with a song that someone else proposed to me. I isolate myself listening to the same song over and over again until I create something that I like. The process is in the moment.
d How did the emotional connections to these projects differ?
M I choose each song for a different reason. Sometimes it reminds of a place, or it reminds me of a person, or a past moment. At times I end up creating something I wasn’t expecting.
d How do you connect sounds with visual attributes?
M There’s something called synaesthesia, a condition that makes you perceive one sense through a different sense. It’s super interesting how someone can something and taste a flavor or listen to a song and see a color. It’s kind of the goal of the series, to bring the sound to a visual.=
d What is your favorite song now?
M At Last by Etta James is one of my favorites of all time.
d What would it look like if you created a collage that represented it?
M Someone asked me to do it once and I did. It was great because it was one of my favorite songs and it was a coincidence that someone else asked me to create a collage with it. I think if I had to do it again it would be different because many things have changed since then. Now I have different materials, different experiences....
d How do you collaborate with other artists or companies?
M Right now I am collaborating with a Spanish fashion designer called Leandro Cano. He wanted me to work within the image of his collection. I started working with him for fashion week last year when he won the Who´s On Next Vogue prize. We worked on the image for his 2017 lookbook and to promote his collection. We created postcards for the judges with embroidered paper. It was an amazing experience. Sometimes I collaborate with other artists on a project where they do half of it and I do the other half. Dividing the work in such a way is fun and makes for a beautiful final piece.
d Who do you dream of collaborating with?
M I would love to collaborate with a group of musicians - working on scenography, stage design or album artwork….definitely something related to music.