Interview by Amanda Thiel
It is that time again people! Want find out what makes the ultra colorful print artist, Alyssa Molin-Graves, tick? Read on!
Let’s talk Delaware! Are you a local Delawarean? If not, what’s your connection?
Yes! Born and raised. Growing up in Delaware you get your fair share of first state nay-sayers, but there are cool little things popping up all the time around here! I might try and explore somewhere else someday, but for right now I like the comforts of home.
How did you get introduced to Delaware Fun-A-Day? What or who inspired you to participate?
I became aware of Delaware Fun-A-Day two years ago when my friend Stephanie got involved and did a "Dance A Day" it was the neatest little video project and it was equally as fun to participate in! Because I have always been dipped in the arts I thought it would be a good way to get myself out of a recent art drought I had been experiencing, and it did exactly that! It was so challenging and exciting, and I finally got an insect print made, something I had aspired to for many months prior.
How long have you enjoyed making art?
I have enjoyed making arts for eons!! I found a paper I wrote around the age of 4 that asked what I wanted to be when I grew up and my answers were "Artist or Actress" only- entirely misspelled. I have always enjoyed expressing myself through artful avenues, whether it be doodling, painting, personal style, or in the case, as a child ruining my mother's entire book collection with my illustrations and fake library cards taped to the back (that did not go over so well.) Art just feels like my nature, it's in everything I do and wear and dream, I have a hard time not embellishing everyday objects or letting anything be without that "little something extra".
Do you have a favorite Delaware activity? Any fun places we should check out?
Oh, yes! There are so many cool spots, and luckily I get to work at or are otherwise somehow involved with a lot of them! Center for the Creative Arts in Yorklyn is a great place to learn more about the arts and they have so many cool classes ranging from pottery to illustration to Theatre, I grew up in Yorklyn so this place is pretty close to my heart. You get to take classes in an old school that was recycled into an arts center and every room is a different color- what's not to love? I am as equally active outdoors as I am in Art, so I have say that Ashland Nature Center, Coverdale Farm and DEEC on the riverfront are amazing places with beautiful outdoor spaces. You can take an organic cooking class on the farm, hike the trails at Ashland and catch tadpoles at DEEC, they are all such awesome places to connect with nature. I am also a huge fan of Oddity Bar in Wilmington, and Homegrown Cafe in Newark. Goodness, I could probably go on and on, but there are so many great little places in this state if you just go out there and look around!
What inspired you to do your Special Moment-A-Day project for 2014?
Through my love of adventure and creativity I found a passion for photography, and that burned bright for many years. I took pictures of bugs, forests and fields, dilapidated buildings, interesting people and places. After college ended and my course work with photography was over, I took a little break and headed more in the illustration direction, so last Fun-A-Day I brought photography back and did Moment-A-Day using my camera to capture special moments. It was really incredible seeing the entire collection together at the end, I could remember the context and feel of each image, they were truly moments frozen in time. I also knew that that month my husband Daniel and I would be flying out to meet his newly discovered half siblings for the very first time, it was pretty life changing and I knew that photography would be the best way to capture it. I took a photo of our tiny room in the "Microtel" the night before our flight, photos with his brother and sister, a picture of a friend getting married, and a photo of my mom on Mother's Day. But there were also less than stellar moments to capture; a photo of my bedroom light the day I had a terrible migraine, raindrops on my windshield when I attempted a walk at the Park, it really came together to show that life is full of the good and the bad, the exciting and the blah, it was a true look at life and I really enjoyed that.
Do you enjoy working in other mediums?
I have probably already answered that question, but yes! I cross into other mediums quite frequently and don't like to limit myself with one particular medium or another, if I am feeling 3D I go for it, if I want to make textile Art I go for that, photography is always in my life in one way or another, even if I am just using my phone or taking outfit photos for my blog. Right now I am riding the wave of illustration and really enjoying it, so that is what I am working on! In the same way, I am really loving making my illustrations into wearable and practical objects like bags, jewelry and clothing, and being a personal style guru the collaboration between the two mediums is a no-brainer.
What types of themes do you like to pursue in your work?
My favorite theme by far is insects. They are my huge passion in life besides art, so naturally I like to merge the two. I really started brainstorming a project for an insect print because I could not find a cute and affordable insect printed garment out there in the world. I went to work in 2013 for my insect-a-day project and ended up with a series of paintings that together made a cute moth-themed print. Since then I have converted the print into fabric, bags, skirts and necklaces. I am still working on the collection so that I can share more of it with the world, but I am really excited with what I have gotten done so far and hope to expand it further! Another theme in my art then would be colorful patterns and prints! Looking forward, it seems like clothing and accessories is where I am headed so prints are my favorite thing to create right now. I like novelty prints like fruits and desserts, and hope to start working on florals, and more BUGS!
What artists influence you?
There are so many wonderful and inspiring works of arts out there and of course artists, I am really inspired by my friends and fellow local artists, among them illustrator Kristen Margiotta and seamstress and clothing designer Nicole Rae Styer. Their accomplishments, passion, and desire to follow their dreams is so wonderfully inspiring and encouraging to me! I also draw a lot of inspiration from original textile artist Armi Ratia of Marimekko and Andy Warhol. Fashionably speaking, there is a whole host of gorgeous bloggers I follow, amazing small vintage boutique owners in Philly, ModCloth.com, and Hel-looks with street fashion from Finland.
Are you planning to participate this year? If so, what made you want to come back and what can we expect to see?
Yes, yes and yes; I just cannot get enough of Delaware Fun-A-Day! My theme comes as no surprise, Moth-A-Day. I have been raising butterflies and moths since around five years old when I discovered my first Luna Moth. I can credit my semi-rural upbringing for that discovery, and the years that followed cultivated an unwavering passion for finding caterpillars in the woods, raising them and watching them change into beautiful moths and butterflies. For a few years it was everything from that "random caterpillar that no one can identify" to tent caterpillars and Tiger Swallowtails. When I got older and started staying up late I noticed big shadows coming in my windows at night, I ran outside to discover a plethora of mammoth moths beating against the wood siding attracted to our outdoor lights, and the obsession heightened. Giant Silkmoths became my passion. I am fully grown up and that passion is going nowhere; I am still crazy about moths! Although I have worked on a lot of moths already, this project will push me to pump out new pieces and challenge me to find new subjects each day!
What advice can you pass on for this year’s first timers?
The advice I would give is to push through no matter what, and if you run out of time just make your piece for that day small and simple, even unfinished! There is beauty in that kind of honesty. It can be really hard to create pieces when you've had a bad day or when you're really tired, but you'll find that it changes your state of mind and makes your time feel purposeful. It may even give you extra momentum to push through your day. And don't worry about perfection; art is in the process, not just the end result!
Is there a place we can check out more of your work?
Yea! My fashion blog has tidbits of my art here and there, and displays a lot of my wearable items and [I have an] etsy shop. I am working on big things over here, so stay tuned and watch out!
Are there any other projects or events you are working on this year?
I will be selling pieces at Oddity Bar's Oddball Arthall on February 19th, along with a whole bunch of really amazing local artists, come check it out!! I am also in the works of a new print collection, and will hopefully have that stuff up on my Etsy store come spring! :) Thank you for the opportunity to share my story, I am looking forward to the March show!!!
What a rad chick! Raising moths and butterflies?! Churning out mind blowing art?! Treating her friends and family like the precious gems that they are?! I can’t get enough! It is definitely worth stopping by to check out her work up for sale at the Oddity Bar’s Oddball Arthall on the 19th!
Continue to support Alyssa, and all of our amazing artists, by sharing her interview and donating on our page to help keep the Delaware Fun-A-Day event going!