Home-grown artist making an impact

Ferntree Gully based Cat MacInnes was part of the ACMI Goddess exhibition. PICTURE: STEWART CHAMBERS 386368_01

By Tyler Wright

For Ferntree Gully based illustrator Cat MacInnes, it was a creative household that allowed her to foster her love and interest in art.

“I was lucky in that way that I was brought up in a really creative household where I was actually encouraged to focus on art,” MacInnes said.

“My dad was an artist and mum was a ceramics teacher, so we were just surrounded by art books and mum and dad encouraging me to draw and everything.”

Wanting to be a fine artist, MacInnes went on to study graphic design at university in hopes it would provide her with more business opportunity, but said graphics did not “come naturally”.

“Doing typography and layout and things like that; I always just went back to drawing and painting,” she said.

“I was awarded a study grant at uni at Swinburne, you need to go and study in South Korea at the Fine Art College and that’s where I got into, that’s where I got into my internship, and that’s where I realised I just wanted to focus on illustration rather than graphics and logo design.”

Since arriving back in Australia and graduating in 2004 with a focus on illustrating and painting, MacInnes has been painting works for companies including job search engine Seek.

Recently, her work was featured on a series of greeting cards launched by Australia Post, among seven other ‘home-grown’ artists and inspired by Australian landscapes and botanicals.

MacInnes drew the eastern quoll, the honey eater and a turtle to highlight endangered native animals, as well as floral works set to be developed into a wrapping paper design.

More than 450 post offices nationwide are set to stock the cards.

“It’s always been a dream of mine to do some work with Australia Post, so that was really exciting” she said.

“[I] went into Australia Post and saw them all there with all the other designers’ cards; It was a real thrill. for me, It was definitely a major career highlight for me.”

Another milestone in MacInnes’s career is her role in the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI)’s Goddess: Power, Glamour, Rebellion exhibition; with her drawings of pioneering women including Marilyn Monroe, Geena Davis and Michelle Yeoh in an exclusive collection of prints and postcards for the exhibition which celebrated the women and gender-transcending figures who made an impact on and off screens.

“When I shared the job on Instagram, Geena Davis ‘loved’ and shared my portrait on her page, which was a major thrill!” MacInnes said.

“I brought my mum and my two daughters to see the show and it was really exciting for the kids to see my work up there and in my name on it.

“I still get a real thrill whenever I see a printed book or my work up in a gallery or in the mural or out in the wild; it’s really exciting, and a friend might see a card or they’ll buy a poster at ACMI and they’ll send me a photo; I love that, it makes me really happy.”

Closer to home, It is her surrounds in her home town that also help inspire her work.

“Sometimes when I’m walking the dog or walking up in the mountains just behind our house I actually stop and take photos of plants and little flowers and creatures that I see just to get the urge to draw,” she said.

“I am really inspired just living in the hills and being surrounded by nature.”

To keep updated on MacInnes’s projects and works, you can visit her Instagram at the handle catmacinnes.

Her prints from Goddess: Power, Glamour, Rebellion can be viewed and purchased at shop.acmi.net.au/collections/cat-macinnes-x-acmi.