Meet Michelle Clarke, a 22-year-old artist from Melbourne. We fell in love with her dreamy illustrations and asked her a bit about how she does it!
What kind of art do you do?
This year I’ve been getting more and more into combining pen with watercolour. In this medium I focus on landscapes, figures, flower studies and abstract works. In my photography I try and capture the beauty of the outdoors with quite abstract results, along with figures within landscapes. My printmaking, mainly working with lino, has a lot of experimentation using different papers, materials and techniques.
Tell us about this book 'I Wish'.
I Wish is a children’s book that I created for a subject at University. The book is an exploration of possibilities, celebrating imagination. I feel our imagination is at it’s best when we are young. My aim is to develop it further and to publish it myself at a later date.
When and how did you start doing this sort of thing?
The first proper picture book I ever created was for a competition in High School. But I can’t remember a time when I didn’t draw or create things. I knew from an early age that my future was in art. I recently looked through my past exercise books and projects from school, and found that I had put more effort into the drawings and decoration for the project than the actual written aspect!
What do you love about it?
Creating art is a way of expressing myself, processing life events and communicating what is important to me. I love the way it makes me feel. I become engrossed in what I’m doing and before I know it, I’ve been working on something for hours!
What influences and inspires your work?
Past experiences and memories, as well as different cultures and the meaning of home to me. I am also greatly inspired by viewing artwork, visiting as many galleries as I can. And I also just love talking about art with people who are also passionate about it.
Are there any other recurring themes in your work?
I find with my illustration and printmaking that memories from my childhood organically come into play. As for photography, I look at interior, the exterior and the comparison between the natural and the man made world.
What are you passionate about?
Sometimes I think I’m passionate about too many things! My biggest passion always has been and will be art. When I say art I mean, creating art, viewing art, talking about art, learning about art, just everything about it!
I’m a big animal lover, so fair treatment of animals and their environment is very important to me. Another passion would be health and well-being, physical and mental. Exercising regularly is one of my top priorities.
Another offshoot from art is books. I love discovering and collecting art books and struggle to go anywhere without taking an interesting little book with me. This has also led me into an interest for bookbinding, admiring the craft and trying to learn it myself. I could keep going...
What is the hardest part about what you do?
The neck and shoulder pain I get from spending hours leaning over my desk! Self-doubt would have to be the hardest part, but if I look at the big picture and I think of this coming year and the future, I think I’ve had it pretty easy so far.
How do you hope your work will impact people?
I’m always curious to see people’s reaction to my work. I think it’s hard to predict how people will respond. Ultimately if a person feels somehow connected to my work and gets something out of it then I’m very flattered.
Do you ever doubt yourself?
Yes, all the time!
How do you overcome this?
I’m beginning to think doubting my work is almost part of the process. What helps me overcome doubt is time, talking about it with friends, mentors or teachers, but mainly just pushing through it by continuing with what I was doing and trying to remember the original purpose.
The hardest part about doubt for me is the loss of motivation to the point where I start questioning everything. Sometimes it helps to try and pinpoint where the doubt comes from, because at the time it feels like it’s come out of nowhere, but that’s often not the case. It usually stems from the buildup of pressure I put on myself to measure up to a certain standard. So I try to loosen up, trust myself and let the work just develop and be what it will be, which makes the process more organic and enjoyable.
What else do you fill your days with?
An average day for me would include a class at the gym, organising the next project, taking the family pup for a walk and catching up with a friend.
What do you do for fun?
Spontaneous overnight camping trips! Bike rides with friends and gallery visits.
What is your favourite breakfast food?
I am not a person to skip breakfast, but it’s hard to pick a favourite! If I had to, I’d say a berry smoothie and a crumpet with honey.