Cait Maloney Captures the Vibe of Her Hometown

In the beginning, it was just a large, white brick wall on a side street in The Vista, the vibrant historic arts and entertainment district of Columbia, South Carolina. Then the Congaree Vista Guild came calling and Cait Maloney said yes to her first public art project. When she was finished, the wall was transformed by her bold and colorful large-scale mural, a funky and abstract interpretation of what The Vista means to her.

Can you tell us about your creative process?

I tend to put a lot of emphasis on the initial concept, I want the idea to be original and good. Ideas have to “bake” for anywhere between a day or two to sometimes six months or more. I write things down, do thumbnails of how I think the final piece could look and sometimes bounce ideas off friends to see how they respond. When I think its ready, I find or create some reference and work up a tight sketch. After that, I ink the drawing and scan into the computer to color and add texture.

The 4by6 Make More Art challenge started as a way to inspire creativity as a remedy to these difficult times. Do you embrace this idea as a way to navigate worrisome situations.

Though I admit it can sometimes be a struggle to want to feel creative in times of difficulty. It can take a little while to get into that mindset, but once I’m there, it’s hard to stop. Conceptualizing, drawing, inking, coloring, are one of my main outlets – a time that I can turn it all off and the rest of the world melts away for a while.

What is your favorite part of your process?

My favorite parts of the process are coming up with ideas and drawing + inking, for very different reasons. Idea generation feels like the most creative / active part to me, like a party for my brain. The drawing part is when I go on autopilot and I zone out into drawing-land for a while. 

How did you get started in the visual arts?

I have been artsy pretty much since I found out I was a human. My mom was into painting and craft shows, so we always had materials to create with around the house. She was encouraging about making things and drawing / painting all the time and she was involved in the local “art scene” which I thought was really cool. I guess it was in middle school that I got serious about art as a career and by high school it was a no-brainer that I was going to college for art. 

How did you get to where you are now?

I thought a degree in a “fine art” would be pointless, so I looked into illustration since it seemed like a good way to get paid to draw. I didn’t really know anything about it other than book illustration (which I wasn’t particularly interested in at the time). When I discovered all of the other applications illustrations are used for, I was sold. I started getting paying gigs toward the end of my time in college. Once I graduated and got over a year of creative block, I started to hustle pretty hard between a day job and freelance work – taking on as much as I possibly could stand. I figured if I wasn’t doing it, someone else was.

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