Graduates 2018: Maya Doyle Leal: Illustration

I like to think that my work is a combination of all the things that make me happy. I try to use bright colours and a mixture of magical and mundane things to compose my own world.

I was born in a small island in the south of Brazil (Florianópolis). So I’ve always been surrounded by the Atlantic forest, the sea and all the creatures that inhabited the island. While also listening to stories of witches and magical creatures from our area. I think that this gave me a real love for that world of fantasy and the surreal, which still fascinates me to this day.

For the past few years I have been very inspired by fairytales, mythology and children’s stories. I love working with subjects that merge the adult world with our childhood.

Maya Doyle Leal

I think that it is getting a lot more acceptable to continue to love fairytales and have an admiration for picture books as a grown up and I hope to bring this sense of happiness and magic that you get from experiencing these topics as an adult. It’s so easy to focus on the stress and negativities surrounding us that we forget about all the magical creatures and wonderful stories that we once adored. This is also why I love using every day, mundane topics and activities and elevating them into a colourful and magical setting, making us appreciate the little things in life a little bit more and taking us back to that sense of day dream and nostalgia.

Maya Doyle Leal colour print

Please tell us about your final year project

I didn’t really focus on one major end of year project. I continued to work on an old project about an alien circus living in a post-apocalyptic/ futuristic universe, which is still a work in progress. It was very surreal but super fun project to work on.

But after the final hand in I am continuing to work on personal projects and creating a series of paintings for my degree show exhibition.


How did you find the course at Brighton?

I really loved being part of this course. I have always felt part of a loving, creative community that has shaped me into the person that I am today and I am sure will continue to support me throughout my career. The tutors and staff are now a part of my little “illustration family” and I couldn’t be more grateful for all of their support. They have been serious and tough but extremely motivating. I have felt so much love by seeing such talented artists and creatives that I have so much admiration for believing in me and challenging me to be and do the best that I could.

Looking back, I see that it was so important to have the two first years to really explore and experiment with different processes and be playful in my work. Learning how to work with other artists and have the time and opportunity to make mistakes and figure out what I do and don’t like in the practice. It was so helpful to have experienced that before entering my third year and really developing my own visual language and analyzing my own work and subjects.

Maya Doyle Leal Greek

 What have you taken away from the course/time at Brighton?

One of the most important things that I learned during my time at Brighton was to be true to myself as an artist and to value my own opinions and interests. As many young – and mature – artists do, I spent a lot of time worrying about my style and identity as an illustrator, always wondering about what the public thought about my work and if I wasn’t vocal enough in terms of my beliefs in politics, society and the world today. This was especially hard in an environment with so many outspoken young people and being in our current political climate. But I slowly realized, with the support and encouragement from my tutors, that my work was still valued and important even if all I wanted to do that day was to “draw pretty girls” or make a picture book.

As cliché as it is, it is so important to be true to yourself as an artist. I am finally happy and proud to be following the more “stereotypical” illustrator path and developing my own identity and visual language.

I hope that my colourful drawings can provide an escape from the terrible things happening in our world today. After all, we all like looking at pretty images and reading fairytale books.


What are your plans after Graduation?

I don’t have any immediate plans after Graduation. There are so many great things that I want to do… I am considering doing a masters in sequential illustration at the university, but I am looking forward to have some time to continue developing my work and figuring out what I really want to do with it.

Follow Maya on Instagram

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Find out more about BA(Hons) Illustration

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