Taking Your Art to the Streets with Isolde

Isolde streetart is a self taught Melbourne artist specialising in portraiture; Isolde loves the challenge of capturing the energy in youth and the character in older, weathered faces. For the last 5 years or so she has been pasting her work directly up onto Melbourne streets under the moniker Isolde. She loves the creative freedom and sense of community street art encourages & also enjoys the juxtaposition of merging fine art and graffiti directly. Melbourne has such a vibrant and progressive street art scene, so we thought we would share Isolde’s knowledge of the land.

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What were your early influences for paste-ups and street style?
There have been so many people who have inspired and shaped my art over the years; Rone, Pedro Matos, Pat Perry – To name a few! The work of French artist Zilda had quite an influence on me when I was just starting out. At the time he was creating these incredibly detailed ink drawings and pasting the originals straight up on the street.

I loved the immediacy and sense of fragility this created; Before encountering him I hadn’t considered putting my work up in such a direct fashion. It completely changed my approach in terms of how I shared my art.

How has living in such a vibrant street art city like Melbourne influenced you? And what are your thoughts on the Melbourne street art scene?
I was so blown away by Melbourne’s street art scene when I first moved here. The city really was the catalyst for me taking my own work to the streets. There was so much energy and expression at every turn and I was busting to lend my own voice to it.

There is such a strong sense of cultural identity and creative freedom in Melbourne. There’s a great sense of community on the street; Artists are encouraged and their work respected, for the most part. There are so many incredibly talented artists getting work up, it’s impossible to not be inspired, to not be learning as you go.

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And how have you seen this develop from when you first started to your now signature portraits?
I think there’s more diversity on the streets than when I first started pasting my portraits up. For a while there it seemed that a handful of great painters were dominating the scene with murals and large scale works.

Now there’s a steady stream of new artists bringing different mediums and techniques – paste ups, mixed media and 3D pieces are popping up with more frequency. It’s exciting; you never know what you’re going to come across.

In the last few years there’s been a shift in the hotspots for street art – moving away from the city centre and spreading out into the northern suburbs. In a way this makes the art seem more accessible, more community driven.

Can you tell us a story behind one of the faces that you have pasted up that most resonates with you?
One of the more emotional portraits I’ve pasted up was an elderly lady I originally drew for my grandfather not long after my grandmother passed away.

It was a profile portrait and the expression on her face somehow managed to flit between grief, hope and joy all at once. My grandfather would tell me he could never tell if she was smiling or crying. It became quite a poignant piece for me.

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And lastly where would the best place to see some of you artwork?
I’m so predictable! Lane ways or hidden corners around Smith Street, Johnston or Brunswick Street are my favourite spots.

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