Denize Maaløe - Conversations with Artists

Tell us about your art.

"I don't identify as an artist.  I think it just so happens that I express myself visually.   I don't feel that it defines me - I could do something entirely different.  I could go into a different field of work and still be me."

What is it you do creatively?  

"It's a visual expression.  Design.  I feel that my passion is trying to help and to do better work.  I'm trying to use my creativity to do this.  At Yummy Colours, Diego and I try to get involved with projects that do more than just look good.  I could also be a doctor doing that, or a Peace Corps volunteer.  It just so happens I've chosen this way." 

What's the last thing you did for yourself, creatively?

"I'm going to start a painting as a personal project.  I have taken a piece of canvas -- I haven't painted in a long time -- and I love painting.   I'm embarrassed to admit this, but I was thinking about what would make me happy to focus on for a while, and I've decided I'm going to paint my cats.  I'm becoming one of those crazy cat people."

What are you envisioning?

I was thinking of using pop colors - neon orange, neon pink, teal and lemon yellow.  I'll try to capture their personalities.  I think you can express personality with color choice and pattern.  Also the energy in the way it's painted - the brush strokes."

Will the painting be abstract or will it look like cats when you're done?

It will look like my cats!  There will be ears.

So is color first for you?

"No.  Subject is first.  But I always tend to come back to the same colors.  yellow, red and blue.  I love working with just those three.  My tastes are very Scandinavian.  Primary colors - white, blue and some secondary colors.  I feel that in nature there are so many beautiful colors but if you try to make them,  they just don't work.  All colors in nature are beautiful.  But painted or replicated -- they just aren't successful."

What is fulfilling about what you do?

"I love when I can capture activist thoughts and use creative expression to really get a message across.  I'm working on a series of drawings.  It involves 10 portraits of women that I admire.  Gloria Steinem and people like that."

Where did you learn to draw?

"My mom was a ballerina and she would bring me to her practice.  I'd always have my crayons and paper with me.  I'd sit under the piano and draw while they were dancing.  Also my dad -- he's very creative.  We drew a lot together. "

Did you always know you wanted to live a creative life?

"Yes, but I don't think I ever questioned it.  It felt so natural to me that I just went that direction.  I never thought about anything else.  Only lately -- I'm thinking about other things I could have done."  

Tell us about the Rooster on your website.

"That was part of a project I did on Permaculture.  I had read the book One Straw Revolution and I was so Inspired.  I did this series of designs meant for textiles, fashion and home furnishings. They each refer to something in permaculture.  And the rooster was about birds being free and walking about in fields.  There should be roosters walking around everywhere."

What inspires you?

I get very worked up and eager to do something when I hear horrifying things on the news.  I want to do something - I want to help.  I want to bring attention to that subject.  Right now with a friend -- we read about Nadia Murad - she's the woman who escaped Isis as a sex slave.  I read about it and thought we need to do something about this.  I need to help in some way - to help get her message out and get people aware.  My friend is a documentary filmmaker and we want to not only get the message out but to offer solutions.  So it's not just about the horror but also about the solution.  I don't want to only highlight the horror without giving solutions.

Tell us about your Rooster on your website.

That was part of a project I did on Permaculture.  I had read the book One Straw Revolution and I was so Inspired I did this series of designs meant for textiles, fashion and home furnishings.  Each design referred to something in Permaculture.  The rooster was about birds being free to walk about in fields.  There should be roosters and ducks walking around free everywhere.

What are the biggest challenges in your creative expression?

"Keeping the focus.  Sometimes I feel that I should learn everything and then it becomes difficult to stay on target."

What advice would you give to your younger self, sitting under the piano drawing?

"I don't know about myself, but what I say to other kids I meet - like my niece - she's 13.  I remember getting that question myself 'oh, what do you want to be when you grow up?'  I hear people asker her and I hear her answers and I remind her, 'remember, you can be an astronaut,  you can be the president.'  I think it's important that she remembers that there is a wealth of options and you don't necessarily learn about them in school.  Society doesn't necessarily feed them to you.  For example in Denmark the forest rangers -- if you study and now about the forests you can get this gorgeous house in the middle of the forest and live there and take care of the forest.   I think everyone should know that."

How did you come up with the name 'Yummy Colours'?

When Diego and I met we started doing projects together.  I found out he loves cookies so I started baking them for him.  There was this whole yumminess to our relationship.  And colors were important.  We both love color.  It's rare that we do a black and white project.

Can we expect a line of cat posters in the near future?

You never know, but I hope I'm not going down that route!

Denize Maaløe is co-founder of Yummy Colours, LLC, based in Industry City, Brooklyn.   Learn more about Yummy Colors here.  To see Denize's other work visit