Images are an inseparable part of our lives and we can find them at every turn, even if we sometimes don’t realize this fact. They may have different purposes and they can appear as advertisements, billboards, manuals, illustrations in books and magazines, finishing with art, although it’s not all for sure. Despite the fact that they may be created for various purposes, one thing which cannot be denied is that they make our everyday reality more attractive and for some they become a way of life and a real passion.
When I was a little girl I loved reading books, whose pages were decorated with colorful illustrations making the whole story and my favorite heroes more vivid. While growing up I started appreciating a little bit more sophisticated artworks, the ones which are a part of our heritage, but also the ones painted by totally unknown artists characterized by empathy and skilled enough to present colorful images which not only stimulate our imagination, but also move our souls.
Unfortunately, I’m not able to create graphics and illustrations on my own, the ones which would have any value besides the sentimental one. Hopefully, having the opportunity to meet people from various corners of the world, I am privileged to talk with the individuals who are more gifted than me. Today, I’m really pleased to introduce you to Michelle Solomon – an artist, illustrator, who not only follows her passion, but also does really well being a full time mom, who always tries to find the right balance and to reconcile her private life with the professional one– always putting her family first.
Passion Piece: Could you tell my readers a few words about yourself?
Michelle: Sure! Hey all, I’m Michelle, an artist and illustrator in New Jersey. I create social media designs, illustrated products, textile prints, handlettering and more from my house in the woods where I work at home, homeschooling my 3 children.
Passion Piece: You’re an artist and illustrator. How did you realize that you’re talented in this sphere?
Michelle: I always loved art and was interested in it since I was a child. When I was in elementary school I was one of the students selected to have their work displayed in a local shop, and I think when you recognize your passion in life at some point you have to just go for it!
Passion Piece: The beginnings are never easy. How did your first steps look like?
Michelle: They are not. I took a long break from art after high school, and came back to it after my third baby was born. At that point I was exploring different work at home options to do in my free time, and I felt like I knew this was what I loved and had to pursue. I started off sketching again, doing a little watercolor, and following along with other artists to see what the field was like.
Then I created my own art page, started sharing my work, and expanded from there.
Passion Piece: Where do you look for your inspirations? What do you like painting the most? Do you use a specific style?
Michelle: Inspiration comes from so many places; the world around me, major life events, beautiful patterns or pieces I’ve seen, even creative challenges. I used to cut a lot of things I liked out of magazines, now it’s more digital and real world. I probably like food art and religious art the most, and drawing people. Right now my style is digital art made using an apple pencil and procreate. I go for simple designs in cheery colors that will brighten people’s day.
Passion Piece: What’s more challenging? Creating images with the use of computer tools or working on pieces in a more traditional way?
Michelle: I think digital is more forgiving and it’s easier to erase things, but it’s much easier to pick up a pencil and piece of paper than it is to learn a computer program. Right now I mostly work in digital because it’s easy and portable, and doesn’t require a big set up and hours of uninterrupted painting time. Digital is versatile and easier as a work at home Mom.
Passion Piece: What tips and tricks would you like to share with the aspiring illustrators?
Michelle: Show your work! Join design challenges, seek critique from artists more advanced than you, be a part of an artist community either online or in person and just keep at it. It takes practice and learning, but I think anyone who is really willing to put both of those things in can make a go of it!
Passion Piece: You’re not only a gifted artist, but also an editor. Have you ever had a chance to combine these two skills?
Michelle: Thank you! I would love to put those skills together. I have combined writing and art and am hoping to do more of that in the future, and I’m open to all possibilities. I love editing.
Passion Piece: What do you find to be your greatest success? Is there a person you’d love to work with?
Michelle: I think my greatest success is having overcome the feeling like my success would be determined by someone else’s metrics and wasn’t something I could control. I realized I can build habits and skills, read about productivity and improve my methods, and accomplish the goals I set for myself. I’m not saying it’s all me, but it was super empowering for me to realize that failure was just part of the learning process and not the end of it. If something I was trying was failing, I tried differently, tried smarter, and worked to understand what I needed to accomplish that goal. A “can-do” attitude goes a long way, and I think anyone hoping to succeed in their field needs that.
I would love to work with major retailers and brands on product designs… maybe some famous chefs too. Chefs are really inspiring to me since I love food art and cooking.
Passion Piece: Is it easy to reconcile your private life with the professional one? Do your kids also have some artistic predispositions?
Michelle: It’s always a balance, but I try to make sure to schedule things well and always put my family first. It’s not always easy, but I also try to be pretty transparent in my professional life which helps. We don’t put the kids on my professional social media much though, that way they have their privacy. My kids love art, though they have many other interests so we’ll see if any of them go down a similar path! I think they’re more likely to pursue other interests.
Passion Piece: What do you love doing in your free time?
Michelle: I like gardening, reading, playing games. Being outside is big one. I also love to cook and share a lot of recipes and cooking adventures on my Instagram stories.
Passion Piece: Where do you see yourself in the nearest future? Are you working on any new projects at the moment?
Michelle: I’m working on a few new collaborations which I hope to announce as they pan out more, the most recent one of which is with Catholic Mugs Co, I designed a mug for them. In the near future I hope to work on a children’s book, more product illustrations, and editorial illustrations. Those are my passions. I’d really love to do an illustrated cookbook too someday.
Passion Piece: Which motto would you like to share with my readers?
Michelle: “Show up for 2 years without expecting results.”
For me, trying to figure out what my passion was and what I wanted to do was a challenge so this motto helped put things in perspective, and it keeps them there when I feel like I’m in the doldrums and not growing as quickly as I’d hoped.
Passion Piece: Thank you very much for this truly inspiring conversation. I hope that we will soon be able to hear a little bit more about your new projects!
I think that Michelle is a great example that you can always come back to your passions and interests, even if sometimes it seems to be totally impossible for you. It’s good to have a healthy approach to the things we do and not to get discouraged by first failures. Sometimes you just need to wait for your success, and the one which you’ve worked hard for will be longer lasting than you are probably expecting right now.
See you around!
Photos by: Michelle Solomon