Young and Hungry: 21-year-old New Zealand mandala artist Lizzie Snow wins fans around the world

Young and Hungry: Mandala artist Lizzie Snow from This NZ Life

Young & Hungry is an exclusive video series sharing the stories of talented New Zealanders. In this, our inaugural video, meet 21-year-old fine arts student and artist Lizzie Snow who is winning fans around the world with her intricate geometric mandala designs.

Video by Milla Novak

Lizzie Snow’s mandala artworks are mesmerising. Her intricate symmetrical circular designs are filled with spiralling detail and are drawn freehand without the aid of protractors or geometric tools. The 21-year-old fine art student, who splits her time between Auckland and Wellington has 89,500 world-wide fans on Instagram, and has commissions from international yoga wear company Lululemon, UK fashion retailer TopShop, Victoria University and TEDx. During her first year at Victoria University, in 2014, she founded her company fortyonehundred after fellow students began asking her to design tattoos for them. Since then she’s designed murals, tattoos and clothing and has travelled to Canada for commissions.

She shares here what drives her to this form of art with thisNZlife.


Q thisNZlife: How did you get started in mandala art – can you remember the first time you drew one?

Lizzie: I started drawing mandalas before I even know what they were. Through research and travel, I discovered that most cultures use circular, symmetrical patterns all inspired by our natural environment.

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I have been drawing and creating since I was a child and over time it has become more structured and precise. I’ve always had obsessive tendencies with a strong need for symmetry. The perfection and the accuracy required for mandala is a good outlet.

What attracts you to this form of art?

The main inspiration in my artwork stems from fractals. Fractals are the ever-repeating patterns at every scale found throughout nature. Examples include the spiralling pattern of a cactus, weather swirls, the pattern of human eyes, and the structure of our galaxy.

Fractal art is a fusion between science, mathematics, philosophy, history and art. There’s so much to discover and learn.

Your artwork is created freehand – how did you learn to be so precise with the symmetry of the designs?

Practice, patience and passion. I’m constantly trying to refine my accuracy. Drawing precisely requires self-awareness, control and steadiness of breath. It takes time and work. Drawing everyday definitely helps with this.

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 In  Hinduism and Buddhism mandalas represent the universe. Is spirituality part of your work?

I don’t plan my work, it just naturally moves and happens. For me, the spirituality lies in the process; it’s incredibly meditative and fulfilling.

What piece are you most proud of?

Every piece I create becomes my new favourite, but one piece I’m proud of is a 19sqm mural at Attain Health gym in Wellington, my biggest so far.

I also really enjoyed collaborating with Lululemon decorating three stores in Auckland (Ponsonby, Britomart, Takapuna), Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown. One of the pieces I’ve created for them was a mandala mural that took 40 hours to complete.

There are not many 21-year-olds who have achieved as much as you have in such a short period of time, what drives you?

I’m creating everyday, drawing for my own projects, for clients and for my university studies. And I like to keep refining my craft, researching or simply absorbing nature around me. I love to share my findings and creations; the Internet is an amazing tool for this. Instagram is my favourite; I also use Facebook, Tumblr and my website.

I have big dreams for my career as an artist, and I am incredibly determined in following this path. I set goals, and I make them happen.

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Who are your inspirations artistically and generally?

Three artists, I’m really inspired by are Yayoi Kusama, Alex Grey and Ernst Haeckel.

Kusama is an 88-year-old Japanese/American artist who works with polka dots, mirrors and concepts such as the ego and infinity. She is incredible.

Alex Grey creates psychedelic artworks that explore topics such as biology and spirituality.

Ernst Haeckel was a German biologist, philosopher and artist who sketched all the natural organisms he was studying his drawings are breathtaking.

What are your goals and aspirations?

I’d love to paint murals around the world, have solo exhibitions in big cities, and continue to collaborate with likeminded people and businesses. I just want to continue my passion of creating, learning and sharing.

Visit Lizzie’s website  and follow her journey on Instagram or Facebook

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