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Hello, I'm a freelance illustrator, fine artist, photo retoucher, designer... hack sewer all in the name of getting sadness out so that I can be free to be happy. I'm the loud half of rottentuna design studio. We're all about having fun and talking to the world visually.

When did you first decide to become a graphic designer/ illustrator? Was there a pivotal moment?

Yeah...strange, driving over the Howard Franklin Bridge in 1991 at dusk...right there, the previous 5 years blended together in one extended beach party and all I wanted was to do something constructive I thought I could really get passionate about and possibly excel at. So I went to art choice, huh? That said, I have drawn pictures my entire life.

Who or what inspires you?

I'm incredibly inspired by illustrations being created during the late 60s through late 70s. For example, Jack Unruh, Tom McNeely, Burt Silverman, Barron Storey, Robert Cunningham, Skip Lipke, Alan Cober, Herb Tauss to name a few. I'm crazy for linework, limited color.. or even better, no color at all. I love architect's handwriting, blueprints and Mark Rothko. I also love to drag my sketchbook and dog (Banjo) to the bar.

Where does your training come from? Self-taught? College/Art School?

I received my BFA in Illustration from Ringling College of Art and Design.

How do you keep "fresh" within your industry?

I'm not sure I do. I really do my own thing. Only one voice is your voice. Now my design work is an entirely different story. I will forever kill myself attempting to be fresh in design. I need to spend hours pouring over magazines and websites. Therefore, I'm much happier illustrating.

What are some of your current projects?

I'm embarking on a new body of paintings, determined to refine my clumsy painting style. I've also just completed a kokeshi doll for a show in San Diego next month. Aside from that, working on illustration, design and photo retouching projects as they pour in.

Which of your projects are you the most proud of? And why?

Funny, I'm never proud of anything once it's done. I find it difficult to look back on a project and not pick it to death. I am honored that I had the opportunity to work as an editorial staff artist for several newspapers around the country and as a designer for CNET. This has given me quite a diverse range of skills running from print to web, tackling illustration, design and infographics. I left the safety of the 9 to 5 last year to pursue a career as a freelance illustrator full time, I'm pretty proud of that.

Are there any areas, techniques, mediums, projects in your field that you have yet to try?

I would like to get a better handle on animation and bring some of these crazy characters to life. Aside from that I simply need to keep improving and developing my painting and drawing skills.

Any advice to the novice designer/illustrator?

keep pushing and stay focused, be prepared to spend the rest of your lifedeveloping your skills. there is no reachable destination, just a never ending winding path. Oh and art school's expensive... make sure you're really really passionate about this.

What makes a designed piece or illustration successful?

by successfully conveying the intended message to your viewer with an innovative approach and inspiring communication or provoking a response from your viewer, aside from ... confusion.

What do you do to keep yourself motivated and avoid burn-out?

I just keep plugging away. I keep motivated by the fear of having to give up and do something else for a living...even on a rough day, this is still the best job on earth.

Finish this sentence. "If I weren't a designer/illustrator I would have been a..."

Pilot or I would sail the seas.

And finally, what is the best thing on prime-time TV right now?

funny, I'd like to say I'm too smart to watch... NOT TRUE. I've been sucked into Project Runway and Top Chef each season and I'm always amazed by the designer's/chef's creations. Oh, and I like Jackass!


JO said...

I'am so happy to see this piece about you, I've been an admirer of your work for sometime. I'm new to this blogging world and have been facinated by so many talented people. You have such a unique and wonderful style.

Choper Nawers! said...

wow..michelle..i so glad to see your work here...and by the way i have always like your style, is so fresh and cool to.

to black halos and cross lines you put on your characters just makes them look great....

Congrats and thanx for always having nice comments.

Best, Choper Nawers!

octavio diaz said...

Yay, Michelle! So glad to see you on Design Inspiration and to see such a body of work all together. Do you do tattoos? Your line work would look good on skin. Yeah, and I second Choper's comments: You always make nice comments on the other artists' works!

Willie Baronet said...

Michelle, as well deserved a tribute as there can be! I know you inspire me, and I'm so happy that the rest of the world sees what an amazing gift you have!

your fan forever!

jamamay said...

Your comments are so honest and true. Always your fan.

Christina Conway said...

Congratulations on this interview, it was fun to read. And thanks for the "shout out". :)

I discovered your work here and it's wonderful to see you getting the attention you deserve. You're SUPA TALENTED!

Grill said...

Good work, the style is amazing! Congratulations!

Ed Mahony said...

Great work. And very original.

ljcl0206 said...

Your works are incredible. That's (linework illustrations) the style I was aiming for but never could succeed at! Your works are so inspiring!

slhindman said...


We miss you and love this interview and all the work on your site here. It's fabulous!!!!

Wish we were still neighbors!

Love from Sally, Dan and Sylvia

raymond Pryce said...

Hi Michelle,!!!!
Your buddy from the north here!!
Your work continues to inspire me!!!
Its more every time I see it.
My Dad and I are working on videos now, I will get you a copy when we finish editing.
Say hi to your Mom for me. All the best!!!

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