Artist: Michele Maule
Business: Michele Maule
Web sites: michelemaule.com, how2drawacupofcoffee.blogspot.com, michelemaule.etsy.com
Location: Pontiac, Michigan
What do you create?
Paintings, original prints, giclee prints, ACEOs.
Where and when do you do your creative work?
I work from my apartment. I am a morning person so I typically work in the morning and throughout the day.
Do you have another "day job"?
This is it! This is my job and I couldn't be happier. I moved to Pontiac this last summer. My boyfriend was accepted into grad school at Cranbrook Academy of Art and I decided to go with him. I looked for a job for two months. I turned in over 30 resumes and 20 applications. Nothing. I did get interviewed twice for a similar position that I had in Portland, and I didn't get it... that was the final straw. I don't remember ever feeling so down about myself. I decided that while I was looking for a job I would make some small art and try to sell it on Etsy... and that's how I got started!
Where and what did you study?
I studied fine art with an emphasis in printmaking at Portland State University in Portland, Oregon.
Where do you find inspiration?
This is a good question for me. When I lived in Portland I seemed to find inspiration everywhere. A rainy spring day walking down 23rd with my iPod could fill me up for days... but Pontiac, Michigan... not so much. I have been relying a lot on my feelings of missing home as well as all the uncertainty that comes along with Michael, my fiance, being done with grad school. There are so many unanswered questions, and there is so much waiting for the next step. Those have been recurring themes in my work lately.
What motivates you?
Well, bills! Really, I have always had this little rumble inside telling me to do something. If there is one thing that I can never be accused of is being lazy. I always have to be doing something, and I just don't feel right when I haven't gotten anything accomplished. It's not something I can really put my finger on. My fiance likes to call it crazy.
When did you start doing this?
Like I mentioned before, I started my little business this last summer. I have been on Etsy since March of last year, but it wasn't until about October that I started to take it seriously. I posted a couple of small paintings and a print, and they sold! So I just kept it up.
Do you remember getting into art as a kid?
I loved art as a kid! I remember my first art class in the first grade. We made little clay bears and the teacher fired them for us. It was so fun. She also gave me my first art career advice. She said, "Don't expect to make any money as an artist unless you're dead." Ha! I still remember that. I have always loved making things and have been interested in art as far back as I can remember. I remember thinking when I was really young that I either wanted to be an artist, or Wonder Woman.
When and why did you decide to start your own business?
Well, I have always wanted to make art for a living. Well, since I was in my junior year of college. The last few years I had been working for a small locally owned grocery store in Portland. I loved the people I worked with, but it wasn't something that I could see myself doing as a career. I would often dream about being able to quit my job and just make art full time. It's so hard for me to believe sometimes that it actually came true... and I have to stop and just take it in once in awhile... I mean how often is it that people get to do what they are really passionate about?
What do you love most about creating your work?
What don't I like? It's fun. It can be frustrating at times. When things aren't turning out like you'd like them to. But for the most part, I just love painting. It gives me a certain amount of confidence, and I really enjoy what I paint. I use a lot of collage in my work, and the tearing and gluing of paper is really cathartic for me. I tend to get lost in my thoughts.
What's the most fascinating place you've been?
Italy! My boyfriend and I went to Rome, Florence, and Venice a few years ago. It doesn't get more interesting than a different culture, food, and language. Not to mention the art and the museums. It was amazing.
A book you love:
The Time Travelers Wife, and always The Little Prince.
What is the most interesting thing about you?
My dad was in the Navy so I moved a lot growing up. I think I have lived in eight different states. I also moved out of my home when I was 16 and I have been taking care of myself ever since. With the help of my grandmother, and student loans, I was able to finish college. My mother and I didn't have the best relationship, and I decided to leave. Over the last few years we have definitely opened our communication and things between us are much better.
I can also touch my tongue to my nose and after a couple of beers I magically start speaking French fluently.
What achievement are you most proud of?
If you had told me a year ago that I would be making art for a living today I wouldn't have believed you or anyone! It's not every day that people get to wake up and go to a job that they love. I am so lucky. I also think that it's quite an accomplishment that I went to college to study art, and I am still making art today. I think one out of ten fine art graduates continue to make art after school. I am still here painting and creating and I think that says a lot.
What advice would you give women starting their own business?
Go for it! If you can manage it financially I say do it. Even if you aren't making as much money as you would at your day job, just being able to do what you really love to do is worth it.
What's the biggest challenge you face in your work?
Keeping up! It's hard for me to keep more than 15 items in my shop. Also, working from home can have it's moments. I am a neat freak, but when I am working I make a huge mess. Everywhere. Before moving to Michigan I had a studio and I could make a mess and just leave it, but I can't really do that here. So trying to adjust to having a studio at home as been a challenge.
What do you love to do in your free time?
I love to shop! I also really just like going out for coffee with my fiance and doing the NY Times crossword puzzle.
What are you working on right now?
I am currently working on a show that I have in Portland in April. It's at a little coffee place called The Fresh Pot. I am also painting some little painting for my Etsy shop. I am also working on a second degree in graphic design.
What do you hope to achieve next?
Well, I am hoping that I can get gallery representation in the future, and that I can continue to make art. I'd love to go into graphic design and work for a small company again. Either way, I know I would be just as happy.