Maria Epam left Spain to explore London and immerse herself into the art world. Studying Illustration and Animation BA at London Met, she's recently been chosen as a subject for the mural community project, a collaboration between Arsenal FC and Lavazza inspiring young people in North London to dream big.
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
I’m from Madrid, so I’m used to city life – big buildings, a lot of people, going out with your friends etc. And I have quite a few artists in my family – my big sister was always interested in arts in some kind of way. I started searching about it, and in middle school, I started thinking about what and where am I going to go? Art is something that caught my attention.
What brought you to London and London Met?
With London specifically, I feel like they understand and value art in a way that is different to Spain. I also love how London is full of graffiti and galleries. When I decided to go to the capital, I looked at the nearest universities and I really liked the courses at London Met. They have everything, and I wanted to try everything – I enjoyed how the university distinguished the different areas within art.
What is your biggest dream in life and where does that come from?
To inspire to do good things through art. Creating and inspiring people, inspiring the younger generation is dear to me because we’re not here forever, you know?
What motivates you?
Creating something so whatever I create can then inspire someone else. Even if it's not related to my art, if it inspires you to dream big, to think out of the box, to reflect on your life – that sort of thing motivates me.
What would you say is the proudest moment in your life?
The mural itself. I didn't expect it at all. It could be another person, but it’s me. It's a special thing, particularly as a black girl. Being on a mural that inspires all sorts of people but especially people like me to dream big is just amazing.
How did you feel when you first saw yourself on the mural?
My first thought was, ‘Oh, that’s really big’. I knew I’d be up there as the muse, but I thought it was going to be much smaller. It’s colourful and powerful. People will walk by and see it, but not know that I'm up there.
What pushed you to go for this opportunity and could you also talk us through the process?
It was easier than you might think. I received one of London Met's emails in which they asked students to be part of a creative project. Fast forward I was helping take portraits of others for the mural. Initially, I was behind the scenes, and it was cool to work with creatives from different disciplines. Then I got selected to be painted.
How did you find your course, your students and the teaching staff?
At times it was difficult, but necessary. They teach you the basics, but they also give you a real taste of the world. They push you to the limit, but it’s life, and necessary for when you work. That was enlightening. Moreover, the lecturers were really passionate about their work. What stuck out to me was having lecturers that looked like me – that was so important to me and that had the biggest impact. In the classroom we were from different countries. It was like travelling every day; you learn about different cultures, customs and languages.
What does London Met’s community mean to you?
To be integrated, and feel that I'm part of something. London Met gives you a lot of opportunities.
What would you say to anyone studying at London Met?
Check your emails. You never know what kind of opportunities can come up. Make good use of the things that that the University offers you.
What is your favourite place in London and why?
There’s a place in Brick Lane where I used to eat pancakes. I’d sit outside and look at the sky. It's near the university and a nice place to chill.
"The lecturers were really passionate about their work. What stuck out to me was having lecturers that looked like me – that was so important to me and that had the biggest impact."