Last month I decided I wanted to introduce a featured artist into the Black Heart Creatives monthly subscription workshop box. I feel like it's a great way to lift up other artists to reach an audience that perhaps they wouldn't usually get to and also put some cool extra things in the subscription box. It also give the artist a chance to share our product too, to people who necessarily haven't heard of us! Win win all round. In February I asked Sade from In My Sunday Best to contribute and I promise that I shall interview her at some point!
For the April box (of which there are still a few left!) I had asked Melly Em Clark to do an original design for us in keeping with the ultra femme, clueless meets mean girls theme. I have seen the design and it is A M A Z I N G. So here is a bit more about this months featured artist and small business owner.
Charlotte: I first 'met' you on twitter dot com, in the Plus Size Community and always loved how you are this plus size power house couple with Dom, but it was relatively recently I discovered your illustrations. I have to say I am totally obsessed with them. You are one of those people I look at and think, damn Charlotte you need to up your game because look at the level or work people are producing, You were honestly top of the list of people I wanted involved with this project! Can you remember how we ~met?
Melly: Firstly, thank you so much for the kind words! I came across you through the Plus Size community too-I saw lots of my favourite bloggers sharing these awesome pieces of jewellery, and I had to see what was going on! Imagine my delight when I found not just the most amazing accessories, but a badass businesswoman behind it all! I'm also a big fan through your collaboration with the fabulous illustrator Phie Hackett, who I'm always in awe of!
Charlotte: How did you know you wanted to be a designer/graphic designer/illustrator, and how do you define yourself to others?
Melly: I usually introduce myself as an illustrator, as that's my training. I grew up constantly making stuff, and was encouraged by those around me to pursue art. During my GCSEs I did a project around Illustration, and completely fell in love with the subject, leading to me following more Illustration based projects and A-level and ultimately studying Illustration at University. I just love drawing and making things for other people- whether it be a portrait for a cute couple, or a logo design for an independent business, I really love what I do. Being able to be creative on the daily is something I didn't think I would get to do!
Charlotte: I see a lot of fat positive and body positive themes in your work, how does it influence you and your creativity?
Melly: As someone with very introverted tendencies with a big dollop of anxiety, a lot of the time I struggle to put my thoughts into words. I'm not a very articulate person and I ramble a lot when trying to make a point. For me, art is the way I communicate how I feel, from my passions to my frustrations. Like many, I hate the messages put forward by the media, so creating body positive art felt natural to me. I hate body shaming and truly believe all bodies are amazing and deserve representation. I try my best to create work that is colourful, positive and with a message of self-love. We absorb so many negative images every day, so it feels important to me to make positive imagery.
Charlotte: If money and time and specific qualifications were no barrier, what would you ideally like to do?
Melly: There's a few things I would love to do, but my main goal would be to collaborate with others to create a book on sexual education. I think sex ed is vital and I really love working on imagery around those themes. Another wish of mine is to be able to broaden my products, I'd love to sell my art on more pieces of merchandise and clothing, which is my goal for 2016!
Charlotte: I am a big champion of social media for friendships, relationships and business. Recently I have been involved in community hashtag talks within etsy groups, which have basically been invaluable. What are you favourite things about social media for your business?
Melly: I love connecting with people that share similar ideas to me; I've had some fascinating chats with feminist and body positive bloggers, writers and creatives, and I find it so inspirational, both personally and professionally, Social media has also been crucial to me for finding support with my business. I'm part of an artists' group on Facebook and we regularly offer advice to each other, and it's been invaluable having extra input and help. Being able to chat with creatives going through the same experiences can really boost morale and motivation. As someone who works from home, alone, it's comforting to know there's a network of folk who have got my back.
Charlotte: Whats the weirdest/most difficult/ one that sticks in your mind commission you have ever had?
Melly: I've been very lucky so far in that I've not had any extremely difficult commissions. If anything, any bizarreness is down to my doing! For example I recently worked on a portrait of a couple and their two dogs, and having been given the info that they were fans of dinosaurs, I drew their pets in tiny dinosaur costumes. It was a really fun idea to draw, and those types of choices can be a gamble, but luckily it paid off!
Charlotte: Any questions for me?
Melly: How do I reach your level of awesomeness? Ha! I'd love to learn more about your experiences as a small business and as a woman in business! And have you been enjoying interviewing other businesses-is there anything you've taken away from your interviews?
Charlotte: It has taken 30 years of not giving a shit, a real case of narcissism and just assuming *everyone* wants to hear what I have to say and see what I have to show them and it turns out like 80% of it is really funny or creative. I probably should do my own interview or at least a day in a life of me, I have written a few well received posts on running a small business but probably only moaning posts.
I absolutely love doing these, I like asking people questions and finding things about about them, I like hearing peoples philosophies on things and I have taken away and learned things about myself and my business in the past 6 months than I have done in the past 3 years just by talking to people who run their own business!
Thanks so much Melly for letting me interview you! If you would like to be interviewed in our new weekly Small Business Interview blog email me at email@example.com
You can follow Melly Em Clark on the links below, and also visit her store