Artist Michelle Christensen on how to find your inspiration
Founder of boutique fashion retailer, My Little Belleville shares secrets to finding inspiration for your art
Michelle Christensen on wearable art, Van Gogh, and saying, "YES"
I got the chance to interview our Artist of the Month, Michelle Christensen, and was very inspired by her comments. She is a talented illustrator based in Salt Lake City who has lived all over the world and has worked for companies such as Anthropologie, Terrain, Hallmark, and Forbes. She is the creator of the brand My Little Belleville and sells a variety of products including: wearable art, enamel pins, painted lockets, and garden gloves. Without further ado, you can read our conversation below.
Artistic Origins of Michelle Christensen
Patricia: Did you always want to be an artist, or did you discover it/develop your passion incidentally?
Michelle: I was young when I knew I wanted to be an artist- around 7 years old. I always drew and it was something that came naturally to me. I grew up in a home that inspired creating, music, and art. Being an artist has always felt like my calling.
P: How do you find inspiration for your art?
M: I lived in Paris for a few months after college, and my brand, My Little Belleville, is inspired by the arrondissement of Belleville, which is quite a diverse area of Paris. I am inspired by pattern, moments in life, films, travel, dreams, and people. I am very inspired by my childhood in Asia- especially in Beijing, China.
From Artistic Process to Fine Art Print
P: What is your artistic process, and what does it take to create a great piece of art?
M: I do research and find elements and figures that I'd like to incorporate into my pieces. I do a lot of sketching, then I edit, add or take away things I like or don't like. I add color over top of my ink drawings, I do a lot of color rework before I really love what I end up with. I use Procreate a lot, or I just hand draw and scan in my drawings and use digital color over top.
P: What are some of your favorite projects/pieces of artwork you’ve done, and can you tell us about any upcoming projects you're excited about?
M: I love my illustrated clothing; that has been a fun medium for my artistic expression! I like the term "wearable art.” I am working on a collab with a celebrity right now, which will be announced soon.
Advice for Aspiring Artists
P: For an intelligent, driven college student about to graduate and enter the "real world," or for all the up-and-coming artists out there...What does it mean to be a visual artist? Any advice you would share?
M: I would say gain as much experience as you can. Say yes even when you don't know for sure if you can do something. You will figure it out. Don't be afraid to take different jobs to learn the things you want to learn.
P: How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success?
M: I think any sort of setbackset back, or feeling of failure is always a good learning experience. I have been a designer for several different companies, but once I got a job and then quit after 4 months because I hated it so much. I remember feeling so terrible after quitting because I felt like I had just given up and ultimately failed because I hadn't stuck it out. But looking back, I learned a great deal from that short time, and I'm glad I listened to myself and got out when I did because that was right before I decided to focus 100% on my own company. I haven't looked back since!
P: What are 1-3 artworks that have greatly influenced your life?
M: There are too many to count! Paintings have a way of making me feel like I am home. I grew up going to galleries- both my parents love the arts. I am an avid fan of John Singer Sargent- the way he paints fabrics and eyes. I love Vincent Van Gogh's paintings- when I lived in London, I would go to the national gallery often and just stand in front of his paintings and feel a sense of comfort. I have loved him since I was small. I visited his studio in Auvers, France, and was the only one there. I got to sit in his studio and draw it. Seeing all of the buildings that he painted in real life was so neat. The blue church is there. Whenever I see a Van Gogh in real life it feels familiar, like a friend. I know he's become kind of a mainstream artist, but I like him all the same.
New Prints by Michelle Christensen
We are thrilled to introduce a new collection of work by Michelle. Check out her work now.