AWNY Startup Stories: Artist Fiona Maclean

Fiona Maclean has an impressive list of accomplishments as an artist, illustrator, and makeup artist for film/TV.  She shares the experiences that led to her becoming a visual artist—and, in the process, venturing from New Zealand to Australia and now New York City.

What brought you from Australia to New York?

I’m originally from New Zealand, but lived in Australia for many years and became an Aussie citizen 7 years ago. Bondi Beach was my home for many years. I met my partner in Sydney and we moved to NYC in 2005 when I won a place at Parsons School of Art doing a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting. My studies were cut short when my partner was diagnosed with advanced cancer and we moved back to Australia. He passed away, and I took over running his online marketing and advertising business for a number of years, putting my artistic career on hold. I closed the business a couple of years ago so as to reinvent and pursue my artistic career again.

It wasn’t until last year that I decided I wanted to return to the US. I secured the O1 visa for my artistic abilities and talents and am in the process of relocating to NYC in early 2018.

Tell us about these businesses and what inspired you to begin.

I had always wanted to get into the creative fields and had a real passion for fashion illustration, costume illustration, and makeup, as well as my first love of painting, portraits, and the human form.

I studied art and graphic art/design briefly in New Zealand and then moved to Sydney to complete a makeup artist course for Film/TV/Special Effects. At the same time as starting out as a freelance makeup artist, I was also pursuing my illustration career, working mainly regular freelance jobs in editorial, mostly fashion and beauty illustrations for Sydney magazines such as Elle, Cosmopolitan, Cleo, and Dolly, as well as work for corporate clients like Air New Zealand. 

I love fashion and wanted to use my illustrations as a way to get into the industry. While doing that, I was working as a makeup artist on feature films and in TV, such as Moulin Rouge, Mission Impossible and the Matrix trilogy.


What have been the hardest lessons in starting a business?

The sometimes inconsistency and the fact that the only one I can rely on is me to do the work, the networking, the ‘go sees’, etc.

Where have you been most successful in marketing your business?

Through social media mostly, particularly Instagram and Facebook. They are great platforms for visuals and expose a range of people to artists who may have limited marketing budgets.  I have been commissioned to paint portraits and paintings through people following me on Instagram and Facebook.

For the past two years, I have donated my art to the Breast Cancer Awareness Lunch fundraiser held by Riley Street Garage in Sydney. It’s a great way to get my art seen and contribute to a wonderful cause.

What advice would you give someone thinking about starting a business?

You need to be disciplined and persevere. You also need some sort of ‘job’ or freelance-type job to fall back on if need be so you don’t end up putting so much pressure on starting out in a new career or business and in getting things up and running.

Other than yourself, what piece of Australia have you put into your business?

I bring to my artwork, my paintings and illustrations the kind of youth culture and freshness that is sometimes associated with Australia. I’ve painted quite a few paintings with Bondi Beach as the backdrop or the cafe culture that Australia is known for.

Tell us about your workspace.

I’m currently floating between countries so I don’t have a permanent studio, which has been a bit frustrating. Whilst living in Australia, I’ve had a home studio, and when visiting NYC, an artist friend gave me use of her studio in Brooklyn, which was such a luxury.

Fiona Profile pic 2

Credit: Keri Megelus

What are some of your biggest accolades in your art, illustration and makeup career to date?

I was chosen as an artist to watch among a strong emerging talent of artists in the ‘One to Watch’ series released by Saatchi. Winning a place at the prestigious Parsons School of Art (The New School). Being featured in fashion illustration books, such as Imagemakers: Cutting Edge Fashion Illustration. And working as a makeup artist on big feature films.

What is next for your business?

I’m hoping for an opportunity to work on upcoming feature films doing the costume illustrations, as well as getting makeup work on feature films/TV/commercials.

I’m also hoping to exhibit in both Australia and New York. I have a couple of commercial-type pieces that I want to start working on, which will be combining my painting with photography and mixed media.

My main focus this coming year is developing and cultivating my talents and skill set, so when one is a bit ‘slow’ I can gain work from one of the other skills I have as a freelancer.

Where can people view your artwork?

I have online portfolios of my artwork, illustrations and makeup work which can be found at the links below. I also sell through online gallery Saatchi I am available for commissions of paintings, illustration and freelance work doing Makeup, Illustration and Art. (Fine art, illustration & film/TV makeup)  (Illustration)


Facebook Artist Page




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Row for Peace from NYC this ANZAC Day, 25 April 2015

Written by Kiri Milburn.

ANZAC Day is just around the corner. This year, April 25 2015, marks the 100th anniversary of the landing of Australian and New Zealand troops on the Gallipoli Peninsula in World War I.  Such an important milestone gives us extra food for thought about what Lest We Forget really means.  How can we ensure the sacrifices of our servicemen and women, in their commitment to our safety over the last 100 years, are not forgotten?

Turkish adventurer Erden Eruç, and his Australian crew members, are embarking on a unique Centenary Memorial Challenge in honor of this milestone.  The challenge involves rowing in a two man row boat from New York to the Gallipoli Peninsula and will commemorate the 100 year anniversary of ANZAC day, while raising awareness about the significant human cost of wars that still persist today.

Erden will be accompanied by two Australians, Kendon Glass and Mark Gasson, as he rows across the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, departing from New York in May 2015, and landing at the Gallipoli Peninsula sometime in April 2016.  The challenge seeks to emulate the journey taken by ANZAC troops on their way to the Gallipoli peninsula some 100 years ago. Glass and Gasson will take turns to join Erden in the row-boat at select locations along the route.  The two Australians chose to accompany him on this journey in recognition of the significance of the 25 April milestone to ANZAC countries.

New York to Morocco leg

New York to Morocco leg

Morocco to Gallipoli leg

Morocco to Gallipoli leg

Why embark on such a feat?  Apart from honoring the centenary of ANZAC day, Erden and his team conceived this challenge as a way to celebrate the mutual respect and friendship that exists today between the people of Australia, New Zealand and Turkey, reflected in Ataturk’s famous words, inscribed at ANZAC cove:

“There is no difference between the Johnnies and Mehmets to us, where they lie side by side here in this country of ours…After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.”

Erden is no stranger to testing his physical and mental strength. He is an experienced seaman who completed the first solo circumnavigation of the world by human power in 2012. That expedition took him five years and 11 days, and included a 312 day long stint alone in his row boat as he crossed the Pacific Ocean.

Australians and New Zealanders commemorate ANZAC Day on 25 April to recognize the sacrifices of New Zealand and Australian servicemen and servicewomen – not only in defending their country but in upholding their nations’ firmly held commitment to peace and security. 2015 marks the 100th anniversary of the landing of Australian and New Zealand soldiers on the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey.

How to Support Row for Peace

Donate to support the expedition at this Row for Peace CrowdRise page, or this Gallipoli Row Everyday Hero page raising funds for returned soldiers with PSTD.

If you can’t donate – help raise awareness by sharing this story and the fundraising links above with your friends and family.

New York Dawn Service Details

Date: Saturday, 25 April 2015
Time: 5.45am to 6.15am (guests arrive by 5.30am)
Location: Vietnam Veterans Plaza, 55 Water Street, New York City
Dress (military): Service dress or equivalent with medals
Dress (civilian): Respectful attire. Please come prepared in case of cold or inclement weather
RSVP: Not required for attendance

For more details on the ANZAC Day Commemorative Services to be held by the Australian and New Zealand Consuls-General in New York please see here.