Born and raised in Auckland, Ella Neal has always had a driving passion for art. Specialising in printmaking, in more recent years, her work has truly flourished. In 2018, she was given the opportunity to feature in a local exhibition in Auckland and since then upon the completion of her year 13 schooling, has fallen head over heels into work for her brand Antella with her friend Antonia. The brand was a creative solution to Ella's desire to make money doing exactly what she loves: art. Centred around high quality products with unique and stylish designs, Antella is a stunning brand with products perfect for a gift to either yourself or others with a handmade and purposeful touch. At present, their tote bags and pencil cases are available on their online website. However if something else on their instagram page catches your eye, be sure to direct message them to get in there first! Definitely something to consider for your Christmas wishlist this year!
Outside of her in home studio, Ella's passions fall in a variety of different forms (most especially football & running) however she loves anything that gives her the opportunity to get outside and hopefully hit the beach.
During my recent annual catch up with Ella, I got the chance to ask her a few questions about her work, here's what she had to say:
1. When did you fall in love with art?
"I have always enjoyed creating, there are lots of photos of me at the painting station at kindy and tonnes of paintings to accompany them! However, the moment that really sticks out for me is the first time I did a woodcut, in year 9. My passion for printmaking grew from there and I was delighted that I could take it as a subject in year 13. I ended up spending majority of my last year of school in the art room having a great time experimenting with different techniques."
2. What mediums of art do you love and why?
"I am primarily a printmaker and that is definitely where my heart lies. I am especially drawn to woodcuts and mono prints because they seem to suit my style and I find the process of carving very relaxing. But I do also enjoy painting and sewing."
3. Which artists do you admire or take inspiration from?
"I am inspired by the style of both Ralph Hotere and Colin McCahon, as well as their exploration of New Zealand’s identity. A contemporary New Zealand artist who I admire for her approach to art is Flox. I am constantly aware of the fact that making money from art can be a challenge, but Flox’s expansion of her practice into prints, murals, graphic design and collaborations shows the boundaries are there to be pushed. Her range of coffee cups, tea towels and yoga mats has made me realise that art can be accessible and for everyday use."
4. How do you think you will incorporate art into your future?
"I have no absolutely no idea what they future will bring for me in terms of my art, but I do know that creativity will always be a big part of my life. My dream would be to study fine arts to extend my practice and take advantage of all the printmaking equipment!"
5. What’s your process as an artist?
"My process is very dependent on the nature of the work I am creating, but in general I do lots of preliminary sketches to come to a composition that I am happy with. But in terms of ideas, I find I just have to wait for them to come as forcing them tends not to work out. I then like to experiment lots with the application of ink to find a result that I am happy with."
6. What commonly inspires your work?
"I am inspired by the issues we face as a society, as I prefer to make work that I see to be meaningful instead of just looking nice. I am inspired by things around me, artwork I see, moments, experiences of the environment or architecture that stands out."
7. Do you often have a message in which you are trying to communicate through your work?
"I do enjoy making art with layers of meaning and a political edge in which I pose some irony. My aim is to awaken a sense of injustice in the viewer or make them think about an issue from an angle they may not have before."
8. What are you curious about working on in the future?
"I am doing a social justice gap year programme next year called Better World, where I get to do some work in Cambodia and Fiji, so I am hoping I will come back from that filled with new and exciting ideas. However, one of my best friends and I have over the last year combined our skills and started a business which has been of a dream of ours for a while. Check out @antella.store on Facebook and Instagram, we do gorgeous handmade pencil cases and tote bags that are perfect gifts."
9. What are your favourite elements of being an artist?
"I enjoy the freedom to express myself. With that though, does come an element of self-doubt, wondering whether people will like what I’m doing or buy my work. I also love being able to work with my hands and see tangible results from my efforts."
10. What makes your process and approach different to other artists?
"Printmaking is much less popular as a medium among artists, maybe because painting is more accessible, as essential to the printmaking process is access to a printing press. In general, people seem to be less aware of what printmaking is, so through my approach I would like to bring attention to the value and variation of printmaking."
11. What is your favourite time of the day to do art?
"Anytime! It’s a great day if I get to do some printmaking. And I often end up getting so engrossed in it I lose track of time or forget to eat!"
12. I hear you do pilates! Can you let us know why you love it and where you go?
"I absolutely love pilates because it complements my football and running really well. Since doing pilates I am more flexible than I have ever been, and by targeting areas for improvement I am stronger too. Not only that, I have a greater sense of mind-body awareness, know the importance of the breath and have some relaxation techniques up my sleeve. I go once a week to Bodylight studio in Mission Bay, Auckland and highly recommend it. My instructor Edna is incredibly experienced and tailors the sessions how we’re feeling and each person’s needs."
Ella was also kind enough to share her 3 favourite gluten free/dairy free snacks with us!
1. Raw Brazil Nut Snickers Bar
Brazil snickers is one of my all-time favourite treats. A raw slice with homemade chocolate and caramel
Line a rectangle tin with greaseproof paper. Spread half the chocolate mix. Freeze for 5 mins. Spread caramel and brazil nuts. Drizzle remaining chocolate on top. Freeze until set. Cut into squares or triangles. Store in freezer!
2. Chickpea Hummus
Hummus is a great protein filled snack, I often have it in sandwiches, on crackers or with carrot. This recipe is from Revive Café.
Put all ingredients in food processor and blend until smooth. You can also use a stick blender or a regular blender however you may have to add more water to keep it flowing.
Taste. Note that all batches vary in flavour as salt, chickpeas and lemon juice always have different flavours and consistency. Add water/oil/salt as needed. You should be able to taste every ingredient slightly, with not too much of any ingredient coming through.
Ella prefers rice bran oil. Olive oil has a strong flavour and tends to be overpowering. You can adjust the level of oil and replace with water for a lower fat option.
3. Peanut Butter Biscuits
Peanut butter biscuits are perfect as a grab and go kind of snack.
Preheat oven to 160C. Process all ingredients in food processor with a pinch of salt. Form mixture into balls and place on baking tray. Flatten into cookies. Bake for 12-15mins. Will keep in an airtight container for about a week.
We are so grateful to Ella for allowing us to feature her on Live Lively. Be sure to check out her work with Antella over the summer and follow their exciting progress throughout the future!
Hi there! Thanks for checking out the Live Lively blog. I am so excited to share my passion for productivity, personal growth and wellbeing!