April fell through the cracks a little bit with my maker interview line ups, but we are kicking off the May blog posts by introducing one of my favorite artist friends to date that I've met through Instagram. Melissa of House Fenway is a fabulous artist and creative, a true leader and strong support system for the independent makers in helping one another rise, and she also creates incredible pieces with so much talent! Read my interview with her below to learn more about Melissa, the work she creates and the insight she has to share!
Tell us what House Fenway is and how it started?
House Fenway started in September 2016 as somewhat of a dare to myself. I wanted to step out of my comfort zone and start a blog that celebrated things I loved: my family, art, home decorating and baking. I don’t fancy myself as a song writer, but I had a passion I wanted to share. I’m a corporate art director by day which I’m blessed to have, but still wanted to have an external creative outlet to call my own. After 6 months, my art definitely took front stage and I added the shop soon after.
Where did you decide on the name?
We moved into our forever home almost 3 years ago. While house hunting, all three home tours with the realtor were on a "Fenway Drive", a super odd coincidence. We ended up purchasing one of them and I swore it was a sign! My original name for the blog was The Fenway House, but after doing a little research I found that the name was already claimed by a fraternity house at Boston College. After doing a little more research, I'd decided House Fenway was a better fit.
I know you are a huge Procreate artist, have you officially moved to using digital art only or do you still work in other mediums?
As an artist, I will always find excitement in experimenting with different art mediums. It’s kind of in my nature! Procreate is just an amazing app. It's a lot like Photoshop, which I use daily designing at my full time job. I have been a digital artist for almost 25 years, and out of all the mediums, I find great comfort creating digitally.
I believe you said you have a day job still, what is it? Do you hope to at some point make your craft your full time gig or do you love doing both?
I am a corporate art director for a furniture company. I design everything from catalogs to concepting rooms for photography. It is a great job and I’m beyond blessed to have it. Even though my full time gig is great, I still felt there was something missing. I needed a creative outlet that was just for me. I found that creating for other’s was nice, but also very challenging. House Fenway has showed me that balance was necessary for my creative happiness. I would love to make this a full time gig. It would be a great dream, but I know finically a risky one. So I’m leaving it up to fate right now. I’ll slowly chip away at that dream, hoping that one day it can become a reality and I can be a self-employed artist.
What’s your biggest milestone of 2018 and what was the biggest set back?
Opening up my shop was the biggest milestone this last year. It is both exciting and nerve-racking at the same time! It has tough me a lot about how to run a business. I honestly think my biggest set back last year was not stepping far enough out of my comfort zone to try new things. I try not to be too hard on myself, but at the same time I know I can hold back when I should take a leap of faith.
Tell us your biggest tip you could offer another maker / small business owner.
Progress is progress. It’s easy to get caught up in the comparison game and it’s easy to beat yourself up over not being better or doing more. No matter how small the step or how long it takes to get to your desired goal, a step forward is a step closer. It’s taken me a long time to realize that, and I still struggle at times, but when I find myself in that downward spiral I remember that sentiment.
You just got back from Disney, was it your first trip and tell us your experience?
Disney was amazing! They really know how to do it up right and make you feel magical! This was our second time at Disney with our family and it was just as special as the first time.
How do you handle criticism?
I’ve developed pretty tough skin over the years of designing, but no matter how you handle criticism it can still be tough. Art is an extension of yourself and it can be challenging to hear criticism of something you poured your heart and soul into. If I get upset, I take a step back and see it from the other person’s perspective. It usually helps diminish that tension. And when all else fails, a piece of chocolate never hurt! LOL
Tell us about the process of your vintage transfers start to finish. What products do you use, etc?
I love doing transfers! It’s a really easy process yet time consuming process. Lots of drying time and lots of paper peeling, but the end result is always amazing. I use a Mod Podge transfer technique with a laser print. The Mod Podge acts as a bonding agent holding onto the ink from the paper. Once the Mod Podge is completely dried, using a damp sponge, the paper is dampened and the long process of rubbing the paper pulp reveals the finished transfer. It’s like magic!
Where do you find inspiration and what do you consider your style?
I feel like my style is constantly evolving, but I’d say I definitely take cues from vintage decor. Old vintage botanicals and antiques play a big part in my style. There is something that fascinates me about old treasures. They hold a story and a life. It’s fun to imagine who owned them and what the’ve seen.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
I am not a risk taker. AT ALL. Lol I guess, House Fenway is a big leap of faith. I don’t know how crazy it is? It’s something that I would usually not do normally, but yet I’m so glad I did!
Where do you want to take House Fenway in the next 5 years?
I would love to be doing all House Fenway in 5 year, if it becomes possible. If not, my next dream would be to have artwork in a major chain store like Hobby Lobby or Kirklands.
Who are your favorite Instagram accounts to follow?
Oh, how do I chose? I love Abigail Hoppen Albers @adventuresinabbyland, Morgan Harrington @morganharringtonart and The Pallet People @thepalletpeople. There are just too many to mention all of them!
You are now on Etsy, what are your thoughts?
I love the platform. I started on there to get more exposure to a wider range of customers. The only thing is finding the right way to get traction. There are a lot of makers and it’s been a little of a struggle to find my niche on there. It’s all about trial and error!
I met you throw your organization of the Makers Market. Tell everyone more about how that project started, the time you put into and what it’s goals are all about?
I love supporting other makers and celebrating their talents. It seemed like a natural fit to organize a gift guide for the holidays to not only highlight their shops, but make it a resource for customers to find great small business to shop for the holiday season. This year we had almost 50 makers participate and over 2,500 customer shop this guide. It has been a great way to meet other artists and learn more about their business and craft.
Money is no object and you can vacation anywhere in the world. Where would you go and why?
I really want to do Europe! I am a first generation American and I have a big extended family over in Poland. It would be fun to meet family members from our larger family, where my dad was born and the where my grandparents lived before getting displaced during WWII. Also, I’m a huge Masterpiece Theater fan and would love to tour England, the castles and countryside.