Q&A with Madelaine Couch
The Power of Art to Tell Important Stories
At WILD, we love stories especially when they are about wilderness.
That’s why we went knocking on Madelaine Couch’s door, who opened up to us about her colorful universe, inspired by nature.
Madelaine is an illustrator, painter, and writer, whose work celebrates Indigenous wisdom, human connection, animals, and the mystical elements of life.
She is fascinated by character development and narrative, as she believes storytelling has the ability to transform and empower.
Immerse yourself in this ode to the stories, colors and imaginary characters of Madeleine through this Q&A.
Why have you chosen to link nature to art?
I believe visual storytelling is a powerful tool to inspire empathy and action for the natural world. I grew up surrounded by animal companions and have always loved creativity. It seemed only natural to connect the two and use the power of art to tell important stories.
Can you try to describe what “wilderness” or ”nature” is and what it means to you?
Nature is anything that comes from the natural world – and this includes us. Plants, animals, trees, humans. It is a sad situation that humans have become so detached from the natural world and the suffering of animals. When we hurt nature, we are harming ourselves. Nature is so precious and a gift to humanity. I remember snorkeling off the coast of Green Island near Taiwan. Surrounded by magnificent ocean life, I felt such awe and wonder. I desperately wanted to paint all these beautiful creatures and inspire others to connect with the natural world through my artwork.
Can you describe the story behind one of your illustrations?
I was asked by Togetherband and Synchronicity Earth to create a sawfish illustration for their ocean campaign. I’d never heard of a sawfish before and spent time researching its behavior and environment. Largetooth sawfish are some of the most threatened fish species in the world. It took me a while to research, sketch and paint the illustration because their shape was new to me. The artwork was hand-painted with ink and watercolor and then scanned in and tidied up. Combining my artwork with stories and knowledge from scientists is a great way to reach a wider audience.
What is your number one tip to those who feel strongly about helping the climate and biodiversity crisis we face?
Look after yourself throughout the journey of helping. It can be emotionally draining to constantly be fighting for a better world against these huge forces at play. You need to look after yourself and also do things that bring you joy. Then you’ll be in a better position to help in the best way possible. And connect with other people who care so you feel less alone on your journey. Each and every action makes a difference, so give yourself a hug!
How would you like to leave people feeling from your drawings?
I want people to feel hope and joy. The current situation of the climate crisis, the destruction of nature and the suffering of animals is unbearable. I’ve always cared for animals. When I was a child, I used to send my pocket money off in an envelope to a shark protection charity. I was always saving ants and bees and anything I could. The plight of animals is ongoing and a serious one. But sometimes, I think people turn away from the negative stories. We are all feeling overwhelmed and emotionally exhausted. And joyful artwork can bring people back to a place of hope and action. We need joy, we need to feel there is a way forward. We need art and creativity to fill our hearts and motivate us to take action together.