Welcome to the wonderful and curious world of Maria Rivans. Teeming with intricate images fastidiously compiled to create magical utopias, her work is joyful, nostalgic and enchanting.

Maria Rivans talks to artrepublic about scavenging for vintage print, her surreal inspirations and her love of Brighton. See if you can spot her philosophical feline assistant…

What’s the inspiration behind your Natural Highs series?

All my work is influenced by a huge variety of things, here’s a taster list:Mark Ryden, The Brit Art Movement, Hitchcock, Planet of the Apes, Forbidden Planet, Land of the Giants, Marine Boy, Bette Davis, David Hockney, David Bowie, Max Ernst, Salvador Dali, humour, joy, beauty, love for life, a connectedness to consciousness, Hyronimus Bosch, Jeff Koons, The Singing Ringing Tree, Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons and Tarzan. The colours for these two prints were highly influenced by the bizarre Technicolor film process used in Hitchcock’s amazing film Rear Window.

Would you describe your work as surreal?

Oh yes, most certainly. I have always looked at the Dada movement and sci-fi for inspiration.

Your work has a wonderful vintage feel, where do you find your images?

All my images are sourced vintage printed material from 1890 to 1970. I continually scavenge for materials to use, I can't walk past a second hand shop, charity shop or boot market without having to go in. I now have a huge collection of images which have to be carefully filed, being organized is essential because searching through all the thousands and thousands of images I have collected over the years is the most time consuming part of the process.

We love your portraits – what collection of objects would you use in a self-portrait?

All the things that I love: Vinyl, valve record players, plants, flowers, animals, food, Hollywood starlets, Americana, the universe and extraordinary architecture to name but a few.

What do you think made you become an artist?

It was always meant to be. As a child I would sit at the dining table and draw for hours. Bette Davis in a Stolen Life clinched it for me though, she played an artist and when I saw her painting in her magnificent studio I knew that’s what I wanted to be and about five years later I found myself at art college.

How did you get started?

I gave up my jewellery business, took out a loan, worked on a body of work for a year and showed it in my open house in Brighton. Sold a few, was offered the window space in Appendage Brighton and it took off from there.

How do you approach the actual making of your work?

I usually have the basis of an idea to start with and then I just begin to play and explore. I work on a few pieces at the same time, swapping projects as I go. It helps practically and economically, especially when searching through the images as I will often come across ideas and images for other pieces that I am not completely involved in at that time. And I never glue until I am totally convinced and happy with the final composition. I'll often leave the work for a while, put it away for a few days and get it out again to view it with fresh eyes.

What’s your medium?

Collage. Screenprinting.

What are you currently working on?

I’m developing new ideas for my Pin-Up series, they are becoming more and more flamboyant at the moment. And I am thinking about working on a totally new idea which will be a development of my landscapes but they will be more abstract in style. And I always have a new screenprint on the burner.

Do you suffer for your art?

I work incredibly hard and very long hours but feel incredibly fortunate that I am a full time working artist here in this wonderful city of Brighton. I always have a sense of freedom and excitement when I create my work and I find that I am at my happiest in my studio. I have so many ideas I don’t think I will ever get them done in my lifetime and I enjoy the whole creative process. So suffer never comes into it for me, I do what I love, how fortunate is that?

What work would you most like to own?

This is a difficult question to answer as there are so many. At the moment I would go for Mark Ryden’s California Brown Bear because it is so crazy and joyful. It would make me smile every day and remind me to live life to the full.