IO Artist Interviews: Maalavidaa

Maalavidaa is Alycia Rainaud, a French graphic designer and digital artist based in Montreal, Canada. Alycia's highly saturated abstract aesthetic finds its inspiration in Jungian therapy, color therapy, and meditation. Her work aims to explore the complexity of emotions through creative introspection as a path to increase emotional intelligence and mental health sensitivity.

Full Transcript

Infinite Objects:
I am so excited to chat with you today and just talk all things AR. So, thanks for joining me. And yeah, I guess I would love to just start with, I will be the first to admit. I am shamelessly obsessed with the new Infinite Objects piece that you just dropped… ‘The Void’.

Alycia Rainaud: Adorable.

IO: The way you cropped the front layer is just something I've never seen before that unique shape. It's so special and I would just love to know, maybe just if you could share about your creative process and how working with a physical object has influenced maybe your vision for the project.

AR: Yes, of course. Well it's so funny that you mentioned that about the shape of the front layer and all because anytime I work with you guys at Infinite Objects, I always…it's always a challenge for me because I really want to make sure that I take this opportunity of having all of those layers and, you know, working on the illusion of perspective and 3D object kind of thing. Obviously, I don't do 3D. I mean not really, that's not really part of my process.

So I try and find some tricks and just little ways of making it more dimensional in a way because my work can look really flat sometimes and I just find it's so interesting to work in layers and think about what's going to be at the forefront, how we're gonna be able to really blend that screen into a bigger picture so that it's not really just obvious and it kind of blends in the landscape of both the object and the person's environment where the object is going to live in, right? I always think about that. So it's always very challenging for me.

And obviously as you know, but perhaps some people don't know about that, is that my work is mainly both tangible and digital. So it's about half/half of the process is divided into those two parts. And so the base part of the work itself is going to be more work around video and pictures of paints and different fluids and just, like a lab, like some kind of lab work. I love saying that it's a lab work but really just it's just more of a kitchen work right now because in my kitchen. It's not a lab at all. It's just in my sink. It's always been like that and I just like it. It's so funny. I don't need a lot of material for that. I just have my overhead camera filming in 4k editing some frames from those videos that I just take.

And it's so funny because I don't really care about that part. It's just experimenting, having fun, not really caring about either what I'm gonna use, it's just really more like a playground and it's fun, and I love that. And then you come back to the computer and you have to take control back up with playing with the colors because the basis of my work is not very much color. In fact, it's pretty much black and white all the time or either black and white and blue for the camera to pick up some more contrast. And then all of the colors are edited in post-production, which is my favorite part.

IO: Oh wow.

AR: Because honestly, there's nothing like RGB, we're really trying to replicate that but with paint, it's just so expensive and difficult to really get that color right. And I'm very obsessive with the way I want my colors to look like so it's way more easy to just like to it in post-production and it's so much fun because I have all of my pre-made color palettes and I just make up new ones from them and just mix and match them up have all of those intertwine and superposed layers as well. It's so funny because it's just playing with the blend modes and all, it’s just really, it's not that complicated. I wouldn't say my style is complicated. My work is not complicated to replicate or do, it’s just small tips and tricks and just working on the details that really makes a difference I guess for me. And as many artists I just spend so much time zooming in, fine-tuning the silliest tiny details, it's tiniest curves that are not the way I want them to be and just, yeah zooming in and zooming out is so important. And then for example when it comes to the Infinite Object, this is obviously an animated artwork. So I have several ways of animating my work but usually I have the space layer of the paint going in that Pyrex bowl that I use.

IO: Wow, that's amazing.

AR: I'm not sponsored by Pyrex *laughs* but it's just convenient to wash off. So that is great. And so I have the paint moving in there. And sometimes I will just leave it like that and have that very fluid and organic movement and other times I will work with touch designer or after effects and just enhance all of that movement or do some kaleidoscopes from that, some tunnel vision kind of thing, which is what we did for that Infinite Object in particular because I really wanted to be a kind of a wormhole situation kind of.

Because it's called the void, so wanted to have that feeling of infinitely sinking into something but obviously it's difficult to replicate with just a camera itself. So it's just about having that conversation in between mediums. And all of those layers of knowledge and technicity just make out the whole process and obviously there might be some easier way to do that and I don’t know that’s just the way I do things sometimes it’s more complicated, and sometimes you want it to be more complicated because when it is you solve some challenges and you learn more that way. So yeah, that’s about it, at least you have a glance of how things come out together and obviously there's the graphic designer part in me that takes up a little challenge when it comes to really making that exist into a certain composition or object. I always love having a little bit of graphic designy-ish layer on top. But I don't know, some people would just call it illustration. For me, it’s design. Whatever.

IO: I love that, that is so cool. I feel like I have such a deeper understanding of your work now knowing just the way that you layer in the different tools and the different mediums and it's interesting you say it could be potentially easily replicated but I just think that there's something so special about the way that you see it that makes it just so amazing. I don't know. I love it. I love that context. I think it's so interesting.

AR: Thank you. That’s so sweet of you to say.

IO: Yeah, I also wanted to mention too, the founder of Infinite Objects, Joe, he mentioned it's one of your Magic Prints. I think it's from maybe three years ago?

AR: Yeah, I remember had this conversation already and…when we met in New York as well, he was telling me all about the Magic Prints as well and I was like that is so wholesome because honestly you know making objects for me is so important. It makes everything more fun, more interesting, more challenging, and just more creative. Because like it’s just so interesting and…and whenever someone gets interested about the objects I make, I’m so grateful because it's so easy nowadays to just see so many objects and you want them but you ever really end up getting it because obviously it’s an investment, its a budget, it’s everything, and when people buy things from artists it just makes my heart so full of love because for the longest time so many people have been trying to sell and create artworks of the mind. We call these artworks of the mind because it’s created by the human brain that gets turned into something tangible or virtual. I don't know it feels like someone is owning a part of your story, a part of yourself, really. Just, it’s great because you feel so much less lonely knowing that.

IO: Yes…Oh my gosh, yeah.. There's something so meaningful about that sense of community and that getting into that sense of community too. I remember maybe even two years ago. I stumbled upon your Heal the Deal project which seemed so important to me at the time and now especially, I understand mental health and healing is a strong theme in your work. And yeah, I guess I'm just kind of curious to know how do you see your audience engaging with it? What kind of sort of impacts do you hope to evoke, talk a little bit about that in your work?

Yes, of course. Well I was mentioning the fact that you know, it feels less lonely to be in people's houses, in people's inspiration boards and it’s just it’s so funny, but it’s…not just it’s not just about that, I think I wanted more, and I’ve always wanted more of my art…than just being like just on inspiration boards. Which is great, don’t get me wrong, it’s fantastic, but the point of when I started creating this art it was not an act of just self-introspection, self development, healing, all of that…but it rapidly just changed into something more exponential and just trying to connect with people that are facing the same emotions, the same situations, the same history…which is basically people all around the world because we all go through the same thing, and we’re all so lonely. And it’s so funny because at the same time everyone is feeling the same but yet we are so vulnerable in our own little corner of the world and of this dimension and I was like I just want to make people feel it’s ok to be vulnerable, to get deeper into yourself, to explore those parts of you and…obviously art therapy and color therapy, color healing all of that is a great tool to get to the point, so that’s what I do with my art. But I also wanted more in the sense that I at some point I didn’t feel like I was vulnerable enough and sharing enough with the people that resonated with my art and that supported my art, and…It felt really important for me to take a step further in how I am being honest and how I’m being open with those people and how I can help further than just the art.

I've always been very dedicated to hearing people ever since I was very very young…I would always be just a great I guess listener and always you know…try and give advices and all, and I guess my experience with always being in therapy really just *laughs* had an effect on me, I guess in a bad way at first and…then in a great way eventually, which is an interesting turn of events. But that message is everywhere. It’s everywhere I’m trying to do and I remember when I was in graphic design school I also made an important point of talking about mental health and…emotions and vulnerability in my practices as a designer and how designers could implement more emotional intelligence in the way they work and…how they shape design in general and at the time it was so weird when I presented that thesis like people were like,…OK well that is very kind of like esoteric…but at the same time it's very funny and…it was like you know what? I think I’m just going to dedicate my life into just trying to pin that in everything I do and eventually the message is going to get across. And I think it's just that the way I see things is that we are all very much connected and…everything is connected and that's also another underlying message in what I do is that I always think about the universe and those greater questions we all have. It’s like ‘Why are we here? What are we gonna be after that? Is there other dimensions? And what can we be in this dimension for ourselves and for others?’ And I’m so deeply passionate about all those topics about afterlife, the universe, space and…how weirdly intertwined it is with emotions and states of being in general…right? It feels like we talk about astrology and the planets and the moons influence on us from the day we were born and all of that and it’s crazy because someone just asked me this morning as well. ‘Do you really think that, do you really believe about those things?’ and I was like I think it is belief just like a lot of things are a belief and…I think it is great to have some beliefs and…some thing that just make you more in tune with yourself and others and that’s what I preach for, whatever that might be. And that’s why with that piece I’m always doing something spacey, you know, thinking about the void and how those terms of the universe always resonate with the mind, the human mind.

Let’s say when you feel a void inside yourself and there’s all of those wormholes and dark holes in space that feel like a void as well and we don’t know what’s inside. Always having this trying to answer these never-ending questions. And trying to put some perspective into the act of creation, the creator, and the universe around. It’s like a conversation that I love having in my work I guess.

IO: I think that's so awesome. And as you were talking it's, this thought kind of came to me this idea of when people sort of feel a void inside of themselves, I imagine something dark and scary but I love this concept of a twist on a beautiful void, a void that allows us to go into something that isn't scary and dark and I think that that's just such a nice kind of way to turn that scary darkness unknown on its head into something so special and gorgeous and I think that's awesome.

AR: Yeahhh. I love it. That’s why I put that quote as well on the object the void holds no fear for those who aren’t afraid of the unknown because there’s a known unknown in everyone and anyone. And it holds all of the deepest secrets of the universe and of yourself and all of that, it’s not just dark matter because it is always existing in what exists can be seen under the spectrum of light. And light is color and eventually it all blends together. And I just love how I try to find color in everything, because honestly it reminds me of when you close your eyes and you see all of those shapes and patterns and supposedly when you close your eyes you should only see black because that’s what the technicity of how it works is like your eyes, it’s black, and it’s so funny to me that it’s so much more behind those curtains. And I just want people to dive into that spectrum of themselves because just like there’s a color spectrum, there’s a spectrum of the self as well. And I’ve been loving studying all of that for the past I don’t know like seven years, eight years soon. It's been such a humbling journey, and I wish I could do more, and I think I’m gonna try and do more, even more, as I grow. I have a lot of plans about my practice in art therapy, in color therapy, that I really want to try and grow as much as possible. I really want to be able to acquire more knowledge as well and help more people as well. So I’ve been trying to look into just new paths, you know like new ways of just shifting my process and making it even deeper. So perhaps I’m just gonna start a therapy course or something to eventually become like an art therapist, like an actual art therapist. How fun would that be? That would be great…I would love that. There’s so much possibility.

IO: That's amazing. Yeah, absolutely. No, and I think it's so great too because it really speaks to just your practice of layering every tool that you have in your toolbox layering your art practice to be able to help others to be able to create a new path, something like art therapy. I think that is so amazing. Yeah, I'm kind of wrapping up on my questions here, but it's been so so nice chatting with you and I just feel like I really have such a better understanding for you and your artwork, but I'd love to just ask if there's anything that you're excited about any upcoming shows or drops or any other artists you're working with just anything you want to shout out?

AR: Yes, I'm always so excited about so many things. I mean, that’s not true, like actually that’s not true, I’m not always excited. But because when I don’t have work coming in, and it’s just me and my practice and I don’t get to do other things for other people, it’s quite hard actually to deal with that. The feeling of always being tied to your work and when you don’t have work coming in, you kind of feel useless. So I’m really trying to detach myself from that. And in that way I’ve been really trying to tap into my desires, my dreams, just like really find, what do I need from this practice? What haven’t I done yet that I always wanted to do? What is possible for me to do? And I was so surprised because it’s in those periods of time where there’s not a lot happening that all the questions are really asked and you get to see things clearly as well. And so I have so much actual stuff coming in that’s gonna be so fun. So many objects that I am so excited about. I have a puffer jacket.

IO: Oh my gosh.

AR: …that’s gonna be produced by my dear friends and colleagues at Off/Script, they are from Montreal. I’ve been working with them for so long right now and it is so exciting, we turned that concept that I did with AI where I applied my stuff on the puffer jacket.

It was like a North Face fictional collaboration at first and then they were like. Let’s just do it! Just do it with your brand! You don’t need anyone else. You can do everything by yourself. Like it’s all you.

IO: Wow…

AR: You don’t need anyone. If you really want to do it, let’s do it. So we’re working on that. We’re working also on a color therapy slash mood lamp as well, which I am so excited about because I’ve been really trying to dive more into the concept of daily objects for home, making people's environment more colorful getting that serotonin boost as well. There’s a lot of things happening with serotonin boost decor. At the time it’s a trend, but for me it’s always been like that. I always want to surround myself with colors and things that bring me joy and that reflect how I’m feeling inside. And I want that for others as well and I think it’s so great and I’ve been really trying to explore more about making those kinds of objects but obviously it takes a lot of time. And yeah it’s been great. I have a lot of exciting client work that I cannot talk about now

IO: Sure.

AR: But it’s gonna be revealed next year, so it’s gonna be a long time. And honestly I’m just excited about living in general. I don’t have any shows planned, I want to, but I think I’ve had a lot of shows for the past two years…which is weird, because we didn’t get to have shows before as digital artists…now we do.

IO: Right.

AR: And I really want to be more on the Curator side of things right now. I really wanna help more people, more artists get on-boarded on shows, so you know that I work with 0x Society on that matter here in Montreal, we have this digital art gallery where we always have new exhibitions every month, with also emerging artists as well and that is a very important thing for the community, to really uplift every artist's voice, every creatives voice. It’s all really important for me, it’s another aspect of my work so I’m really excited about that. But yeah that’s about it, like not much. I’m looking forward to seeing my family, getting back to France for Christmas, and getting back to Japan next year, hopefully. It’s just like, I love, life is fun.

IO: Yeahhh! Yeah.

AR: When things are going well, life is fun. And then like you cry to bed every single night but eventually in the morning you wake up and it’s so fun, so you gotta share that energy with everybody. Yeah.

IO: Exactly. Yeah, it sounds like amazing big things to come like the roller coaster that life is but yeah just really, really happy to catch up and yeah, those were all the questions that I had today. But yeah.

AR: Thank you. I really appreciate you for all of those really sensitive and really well-thought questions as per usual, it’s always such a pleasure to talk with you and I’m glad that you’re just eager to listen to me at all because like *laughs* I talk a lot, I could talk forever and it’s just like I’m really grateful for that and for everything that you’ve done for me at Infinite Objects. Like you are always such a dream to work with, and I know that a lot of people are so obsessed with what you do and all of the things that you make possible with Infinite Objects. It’s so nice, like honestly, I kinda wanna have like…I think I’m gonna do like an Infinite Object of my dog. I have this shot of my dog and I was telling my boyfriend, I think I wanna get that into an Infinite Object and just have the shot on repeat cause that’s him when he was a puppy and I’m obsessed.

IO: Oh my god. I love that. Yeah, let me know when you place the order. I'll push it to the top of the line.

AR: Of course!

IO: I love it. Alycia, you are a legend. Thank you so much again and enjoy the rest of your day.

AR: Take good care.

IO: Yes chat soon. Bye.