Eating Art with Vanessa Mckeown


Photographer Vanessa McKeown portrait

Meet Vanessa Mckeown, a London-based photographer with a background in graphic design and film editing. Vanessa creates irresistible and humorous assemblages of food and everyday objects that are clever and instantly recognizable. Her work is colourful, expressive and will surely put a smile on your face.

This August we will feature a print from Vanessa’s Fruloons series. Subscribe by July 31st to receive a print from Vanessa! 

Hi Vanessa. Tell us about your Papirmass image (not pictured).
It actually came about by accident! I had just bought some tomatoes and was blowing up some balloons to photograph when I thought, “Oh, it looks like a tomato!” I glued the balloons on but it took a long time to get the angle just right. Then, the Fruloons series was born. This was one of my first photographs and it inspired me to carry on making more.

Photography by artist Vanessa McKeown

What challenged you the most at the start of your career?
Going freelance. I used to be a full-time film editor, so making that leap was a little scary. As a backup, I remember applying for a job as a delivery van driver. I was freaking out! Luckily, I got through the first week and haven’t looked back! Things have a way of working themselves out. If you want something bad enough you just have to go for it.

What’s are the best and worst parts of being an artist?
You’re free to create whatever you want, but sometimes freedom can sap your productivity.

What has being an artist taught you about yourself?
I’m a perfectionist and I overthink things too much!

What is your studio like?
Currently, I work from home, which means it’s difficult to switch off. The space is too small but I love that my cat is always around to stroke. I’m looking for a studio right now. I’m excited to move out. I think my boyfriend will appreciate the extra space and definitely won’t miss my mess!

Photography by artist Vanessa McKeown

Describe your typical day.
I get up and have porridge or a smoothie for breakfast. Then, I check my email and Instagram. If I have a project on the go I usually start working right away. At lunch, I go for a run, eat, and get back to it! But some days I procrastinate and just think up new ideas.

Photography by artist Vanessa McKeown

How do you go from idea to finished piece?
I spend a lot of time thinking about ideas, wondering if they make sense, and questioning what I’m even doing! Eventually, I get over this and make a mock-up in Photoshop or just draw it. Usually, this helps a lot. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”. However, failing is never a bad thing because you always learn something along the way!

What do you love most about London?
You can walk everywhere.

Photography by artist Vanessa McKeown

Where is your favourite place in the world?
Oh, I love America, especially Palm Springs, San Francisco and Miami! I feel like that’s where I was really born!

What is the best life advice you’ve heard?
Steve Jobs once said, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” I read this when I was 17 years old and it has stayed with me ever since. We are easily confused by other people because our inner voice is so quiet, but intuition always knows best!

Photography by artist Vanessa McKeown

Vanessa McKeown is our August 2017 artist.
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