I am a career artist with a PhD (in visual art). I teach art part-time in a maximum security prison. I live in a small town on the south coast of WA and surf as often as I can.
Do you have an art practice outside of illustration?
Yes. I was initially trained to use traditional media and started out as a sculpture major in art college. But I always loved drawing the most and switched to digital illustration a few years ago.
Who and what inspires your art and creativity?
Ideas, things I hear people say, the crazy things people do. I love colour, minimalism and symbolism. I love satire - an image speaks so much more directly than words.
What excites you about illustration?
I get bored with repetition. Illustration is never the same twice. I am always learning new stuff and I don’t think I‘ll ever stop.
What do you love illustrating?
Mostly people. I did a lot of figure drawing in my early art training and I still love the human figure. I need to put in a lot more effort on backgrounds and environments, which I’ve started doing.
What’s a typical day for you as an illustrator?
I’m just starting out in illustration as a ‘job’ really. I have several illustrations on the go at the moment because I’m trying to get a solid folio together. I’m also trying to hone my style – 2 actually. If I don’t have a deadline for something, I go to my folder and see which illustration yells out to me – it says something like: you need to work on THIS bit……I’m awake at 5.00 am so I work early in the morning (on the days I’m not at my teaching job), take a break about 9.30 am to check the surf, and put in another few hours after dinner. Some of that time is broken up finding references, getting inspiration, answering emails and checking Facebook.
Do you regularly exhibit your work? Why or why not?
I take part in an annual exhibition with MIX as part of the Perth International Arts Festival in Albany on the south coast of WA. One of my large digital painting/prints is currently touring regional WA with Art on the Move as a result of an exhibition we did on the theme of ANZAC. But PIAF have just withdrawn funding for the regions, so I’m not sure what I’ll be doing next year, especially as my online digital presence and work grow. I enter local art shows sometimes.
What are your thoughts on social networking and marketing yourself online as an artist? How has this helped you gain a following or given you opportunities?
I’m pretty new to it but I have been stoked to get 2 enquiries as a result of my IA membership. I have 114 followers on my Facebook page and I need to grow this side of my practice, but I am wary because of the potential for breaches of copyright. Which is why I’m not on Instagram and some other forums.
Given what you know now, do you have any advice for yourself in those early stages?
Yes! Stop messing around and just go for it. You will never be ‘good enough’, so get as good as you can, be as professional as you can and make a start. I wish I had done it years ago.
Could you give some experience of roles with clients (how you came about them and your overall experience)?
Well I can only speak about graphic design really. Most jobs have been word of mouth and I have enjoyed the process. It’s a real challenge when a client wants something that you really hate!! That’s where the hard work comes in - getting them to see your vision while still giving them what they want, or think they want.
Do you have any advice for illustrators interested in joining Illustrators Australia?
I would definitely recommend they join. I can’t believe I’ve had 2 enquiries and I only have 1 image on IA’s website!! Which just confirmed the feedback I got from IA – that my work was colourful and should get noticed.
What’s your favourite weird colour (or weird paint shade) name?
Well I don’t have an actual weird colour name, but since I was a teenager I have loved the combination of fluoro orange, lime green and purple or blue. I also love saturated colour but I have to curtail these tendencies when I choose colours for illustrations.
Being a creative is both a privilege and a curse. But if that’s what you are, you have no choice in the matter. I thank my lucky stars every day that I have a warm bed, a roof over my head, good food and the gift of creativity.
Curious to see more of Michelle's work? Check our her Illustrators Australia profile here.
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