Minty studied architecture at the University of Cambridge graduating top of her year in 2013 and went on to work in a London architectural practice. Here she discovered that the drawing board no longer has a place in the modern architectural office, so she returned to the pencil with the intention of keeping the art of architectural drawing alive.
Her background in architecture has not only influenced her choice of subject matter but also her style of drawing. She spent years designing floor plans and positioning windows on modern facades and you can see this understanding of spatial design expressed in the compositions of her drawings.
Minty shares her work on Instagram giving daily updates on the progress of her drawings. She has a growing following of over 55,000 people.
She is originally from Comrie in Scotland but now lives and works in London.
Q&A with Minty
I get lots of lovely emails every week from people doing their GCSEs or A-levels who want some more information to write up in their art projects. Sorry I can't reply to all of these, but I have tried to answer some of the regularly occurring questions. So here they are:
Is Minty your real name?
Firstly let's sort out this question! So my full name is actually Araminta but I have always been known as Minty for short. And no...unfortunately I am no relation to the supermarket!
How would you describe your artwork?
I create highly detailed pencil drawings of architecture I see in the UK and abroad. Sometimes I draw the building out of its context, putting it in isolation in the center of the page. Other times I choose to show the street view towards a building, keeping a simplistic abstract outline of the context.
What does making art mean to you?
When I make art, I am trying to make the viewer look differently at the urban landscape around them. I take one building at a time and focus on the detail with the hope of showing people the incredible beauty surrounding them in their cities.
How does material/medium inform your practice?
Working with graphite pencil allows me to work very precisely and in great detail. If I were to try and recreate my picture with paint I think I would find it really hard to work to the same level of detail. Also I really enjoy drawing just in black and white as this forces me to concentrate on the light and shadows in my work. When colour is removed from a picture the tonal contrast created by light is really accentuated.
What inspired your unique style of drawing a street view?
This style of depicting a street view with just the outline of the contextual buildings and only one focal building drawn in high detail was inspired by my time at University studying architecture. At University I loved making models and often this involved making a large site model out of white card and the building I was designing I would create in much greater detail using a different material. Therefore when I photographed the site model with my new inserted building this new building would stand out from the rest of the surrounding white card buildings. In my projects at University I was really interested in the idea of buildings being carefully positioned at the end of a road so they acted like a beacon drawing people along the path towards them. I think because these ideas of city vistas and planned views really interested me as an architecture student it meant I was always on the look out for these views towards buildings when I was exploring a city and eventually lead to me wanting to draw these views.
What is the most memorable piece of art you have produced?
Probably the most memorable piece is the facade of the Basilica of San Petronio in Bologna. Firstly because it is the longest piece I have ever worked on but secondly because it was the first piece in which I deliberately cropped the piece so instead of showing the whole form of the Basilica I focused on the detail. By looking at the facade in this way the viewer is forced to notice the difference between the textured patterned brickwork and the smooth marble. If you are given the whole building it is very easy to identify it from it’s shape so I like that this piece takes a little longer to recognise and is most often done so by people who know it really well.
What’s the last exhibition you saw that made an impact on you?
Last year I heard about an artist called Thomas Jones who travelled to Italy and made really beautiful paintings of everyday scenes so I went to the National Gallery to track down some of these pictures. These pictures were painted in the 18th century and show an insight into the urban landscape in Italy at this time. My favourite piece shows a wall in Naples with one window from a front on perspective, and the wall is crumbling and has washing hanging out and it’s just a really simple minimalist composition. Lots of the pictures I draw are of grand expensive buildings and seeing these pictures reminds me that you can make beautiful artwork from any style of architecture.
Has any place or environment affected your work?
In the last couple of months I started a series of drawings of Venice. Initially when I drew a canal view I was treating it in the same way I would treat a street view by outlining the context and only drawing one building in the picture. However when it came to drawing Venice the canals are such a defining element of what makes Venice so unique. In the last month I tried a new idea of drawing the reflections in the water which gives a hint of the contextual buildings.