Here is an amazing person who is leaving a unique mark on the creative world. Jodi Magi, originally from Australia now spends most of her time creating magical works in Abu Dhabi. Here is what she had to say about her life and work. Enjoy.
Name: Jodi Magi
Mediums: oils, acrylics, pencil, polymer clay, digital.
As a kid in Sydney, I liked to play witches at the creek in our backyard with the neighbours. We would spend hours roller-skating up and down the street, playing with our dogs, climbing trees and drawing. Later, my family moved across the country to Perth, where the lifestyle was similarly outdoors-oriented, with many hours spent at the beach or sailing on the river. I was pretty lucky.
I grew up thinking you go to school, maybe university afterwards, find a career, work for 40 years, find a partner, maybe have kids, pay off a mortgage, then when you retire perhaps go travelling or do all the things you didn’t have time to before. Having no reason to question this, and seeing everyone around me following this system, I gave it a go. However, during my twenties the slow realisation dawned that this way was not going to bring me happiness or fulfilment. I was working as a graphic designer full-time, spending 38 hours a week in the same chair staring at a computer screen, using my creativity to the benefit of corporate clients – to sell a product or brand a company so it appeals to a certain demographic.
Eventually I decided life was too short and I was better off keeping my creativity for my own use – earning an income in a way which took less out of me. So I quit my graphic design job and after a couple of deviations including becoming a qualified primary school teacher and getting a truck driving licence, I went travelling. I did the south-east asia thing, then I taught English in Taiwan for a year, then moved to Melbourne where I really threw myself into developing my artistic side. It was only at this point when I understood that creating art was what had been missing for me that whole time. When I was painting or drawing or whatever, time stood still, yet everything just felt right in my soul.
Ironically, in order to sustain myself while focusing on art during this time, I fell back on my former career as a graphic designer, working freelance part-time, and still semi hating myself for prostituting my skills in order to help companies which I don’t think benefit the world. I mean, cosmetics companies, land development companies and even mining companies. Integrity can be expensive and I needed to eat and pay the rent…
Last year, I moved to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates where my partner was offered a job teaching animation at a university here, and where I now teach graphic design part time as well. It has been a great opportunity to continue to focus on creating art, as I have loads more spare time and more financial security which are both pretty helpful things. But, at the same time, as with many things if you pay attention, it is a deal with the devil. We western expats live a privileged life here, yet are surrounded by a class system which is still very much intact in this part of the world. We are witnessing the growth of a country which is only 40 years old and is truly inspiring in the optimism of it all, and at the same time we share this place with thousands of labourers who come here to work 80 hour weeks for months at a time in order to send money home to their families in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, the Philippines etc. Living here has brought with it a new perspective, and I tend to see things from a pretty ‘big picture’ angle these days.
When I think of the 7 billion people who we share this planet with, I think how fortunate I was to be born to a family who loves me, in a country which has everything to offer. It is like the lottery of birth and I am guessing many of the people who will read this, won that lottery you know?
Examples of my work:
‘Eyes Wide Open’, acrylic on canvas, 144cm x 102cm, 2012
‘Once, There Was the Sound of Leaves’, oil on canvas, 60cm x 60cm, 2012
‘I Told You This Day Would Come’, oil on wood and digital manipulation, 55cm x 30cm, 2013
‘Miasma’ digital medium, 60cm x 45cm, 2013
‘Her Metamorphosis’, oil and silk on canvas, 80cm x 80cm, 2013
‘Greener Pastures’, acrylic on canvas, 42cm x 30cm, 2009
and an animation I have just finished titled ‘Upgradia’ is here: https://vimeo.com/78326122
What does wholehearted and mindful living mean to you?
To me it means, considering ourselves as part of a wider network of people, animals, ecosystems etc which all effect and are effected by each other. It is taking responsibility for our choices, knowing they have consequences regardless of whether those consequences are convenient to think about. It means trying to have empathy and seeing things from a perspective which might not come easily. It means questioning everything.
How do you maintain balance in your life?
I am not sure I do.
I try to pay attention to the moments when I feel content, think about what it is that I am doing in that moment and try to make that activity are regular occurrence.
What or who inspires you?
Travel inspires me. I adore France and truly wish I could somehow live in the Dordogne region with a vegetable patch and chickens…
Movies are a constant source of inspiration, specifically Pan’s Labyrinth, The Orphanage, The Woman in Black, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Brotherhood of the Wolf, Perfume, The Road, Melancholia. Anything be Tarantino, Baz Luhrmann, Del Toro, Peter Jackson, and M Night Shyamalan.
A human who truly inspires me for so many reasons is Stephen Fry. The man’s talents, insightfulness, compassion, intelligence, wit, and energy have no limits. I watch documentaries via You Tube when I work and have recently viewed Fry’s series’ on Homophobia, on living with Aids, on living with Bi-Polar disorder, and his tour of every state of America. I wish he was my uncle and we could sit by a fire drinking scotch together!
Knowing people like Stephen Fry and Russell Brand are on this planet, encouraging us to question, makes me feel better about things on those days when I have made the mistake of watching the news and it is all too depressing. I am also inspired by the good people of Greenpeace – basically anyone who stands up for those who can not defend themselves, animals and environments included.
The natural world is the biggest inspiration of all, in all its forms.
What meaning do you hope people get out of your work?
I am not sure I can say there is a blanket meaning I want people to get out of all of my works as they are all quite different. The aesthetic chameleon in me is constantly encouraging me to try new techniques, mediums and even styles. I guess I want people to think and try to ascertain their own personal meaning. I want my works to speak for themselves.
Having said that though, I have created many works which depict a topic I am consumed by which is our attitude towards the planet, with regards to consumerism and sustainability. I don’t believe those 2 words can happily co-exist. I am also interested in the relationship between mass media, consumerism, and innocence. I think the world children are living in today is a harsh world for innocence to survive in.
What do you hope for the future of your work?
That is a great question. I want my work to inspire people to question. To think in a way they wouldn’t have thought before.
I want the atmosphere of the piece to stay with them after they have turned away from it.
A sincere thank you to Jodi Magi for her wonderful answers and insights. Be sure to check her out at http://jodimagi.com/.
Do you have an artist or creator you would like to see featured? Let me know in the comments.