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Classic Pen-and-Ink Drawings Explore Themes of Isolation

Maddy Young uses simple techniques to illustrate complex emotions.

Maddy Young

's main mediums are fairly traditional; some might even say old-fashioned. Instead of spending her working hours laboring over time-intensive GIFs or painstakingly manipulating images with sophisticated digital programs or tools, she sticks mostly to pen and paper. But that doesn't mean her art isn't as provocative or impressive as that of some of her peers. In fact, the Melbourne-based artist still manages to leave a definite impression with her work by simply using an artist's most basic tools.


Like many other creatives, Young's art is highly personal, but she also admits to exploring broader social themes like feminism. Her mostly black-and-white illustrations are reminiscent of the elegant, romantic style that characterized Art Nouveau. But her themes are far from decorative, even if they can serve that purpose, which they often do. Instead, her subjects evoke ideas of alienation and loneliness, while also reflecting the inherent power of isolation as a special kind of conduit for transmitting creative energy. In this way, Young is successful in her mission, as she tells The Creators Project, "Mostly, I hope to create works that make people feel like they aren't alone in what they're feeling."

For Paul, 2016 (in on paper)

Whatever the ultimate effect of her own creative endeavors, Young believes that art has steadfastly remained an effective tool for social change throughout the ages. "Historically, art has always been an effective way to criticize social issues and standards, and in doing so highlight inequality and injustices," she explains. "I think this developed through necessity and acts of bravery—through the actions of a select few who wanted to help in some way."

Looking Inside, 2015 (Risograph print)

According to Young, creative content-based social-media platforms have provided opportunities for people to not only share their works liberally, but also exchange personal thoughts, stories, and opinions as well. "People are able to share more openly and freely, with little fear of censorship," Young believes. "Everyone is able to have a voice, which allows for a more open flow of discourse and development of opinion. We no longer get our information from newspapers and television, but rather blog posts and forums, and one voice need not be more valuable than another."


Found, 2015 (ink on paper)

Young says that she decided long ago to make art in a specific way, and hasn't really strayed from that mission. "Since my works are so personal, I find myself delving deeper with certain issues and topics, and being more selective with the works I choose to share publicly," she says. "I think there's a delicate balance between making works that are sincere, and works that you think people want to see—works that help, and works that don't really need to exist."

Night, 2015 (pigment on paper)

Given the unprecedented opportunity for exchange between artists and audiences today, Young believes that the fundamental purpose of making art still won't change—it will just proceed to become more visible. "I think people will continue to use art to draw attention to issues and highlight injustices," she says. "And I think as internet platforms like Tumblr and Instagram continue to give voices to these people, this voice will get louder and lead to more effective action and change."

Kristina, 2015 (pencil and pen on paper)

Small, 2015 (ink on paper)

Goodbye, 2015 (ink and pencil on paper)

Follow Maddy Young on Instagram and Tumblr.


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