A moment with Margo McDaid - celebrated Margate artist

Margo McDaid is an artist whose simple, graphic paintings and drawings are inspired by colour, vintage shirts, children book illustrations, folk art and outsider art. She draws every day and particularly enjoys hearing “that looks like me!” when people view her work. Margo’s art reflects her love of all things bright and optimistic, as well as her life by the sea which “makes the colour even more powerful”. She thinks art should bring us daily joy, which her vivid and expressive prints and paintings surely do. Margo has very kindly gifted an original artwork for our latest giveaway and we caught up with her to find out what inspires her work, why she draws every day and her top tip for living more sustainably…


Let's start from the beginning. What’s your background, and how did you get to where you are today?

I did a degree in Art at Camberwell in 1994-97 and had some success at the New Designers - my work was sold in Conran in London, Paris and Singapore. In 1997 it was almost impossible to be seen and to sell your work independently. I think that social media especially, instagram has been so good for people like me working in the visual arts.

What inspires you?

I get huge inspiration from living by the sea. I love the light and the vibrancy of colours here. I have always collected random things - beach plastic, vintage shirts, children's illustrated books, crockery from the guest houses of Thanet.

How long have you lived in Ramsgate and why did you choose to settle there?

I have lived in Ramsgate for 13 years and we moved out of London because we couldn't afford anything. It was extremely sad to leave a city that I loved but I knew that the seaside would be a fun place to live with a young family. It also meant we could work part time and focus on doing something creative.

10 years ago you challenged yourself to a personal project: to paint a picture every day for 20 years. What have you learnt from this so far and how has it informed your work?

I made the challenge because I had reached a point in my life (43) where I looked back at the younger me, and I could see that I had missed a really amazing opportunity to be creative and to be successful. I wanted to see if I could work on something every single day - without fear and with absolute focus - what would happen? What I have learnt is that - I decide how I work and how much I have to give and that I LOVE to work far too much!!!!

Can you describe your work in 3 words?

Strong. Bright. Female.

How would you describe your day-to-day?

I work quite late at night sometimes as I love to draw when it is really quiet.  I get up around 7-7.30 and see my kids off to school. I walk my dog and then go to work till 4. I need extended time to paint and I like to paint for at least 4-5 hours at a time. I do this 3- 4 days a week. I spend 2 days a week replying to messages and sending out orders but I have a couple of amazing people who help me with this.

What does home mean to you?

I love being at home when the kids come back form school and just pottering about - not being massively productive but it's my home time. My home is a very creative place for me - the kitchen table is a place to make and paint and to play. I have a desk in every room to sit and draw.

What’s your top tip for living more sustainably?

I am now 53 and I have never had a car and I can't drive. However I am desperate to get a small electric car as I just need to get about more. I try not to fly and we have had some lovely breaks this year in Kent! We found an amazing place 36 mins from our house that had an outdoor pool from the 1970's and we could take the beloved dog!!!

Name a forever item of clothing or accessory that you couldn't live without?

I have a coat that I inherited from a lady in Ireland - it was hand tailored in Dublin. I imagine it was made in the 1920's or 30's and it is something that was made to last! I love that it is a timeless piece.