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Meet Stacy Michelson

Today we’d like to introduce you to Stacy Michelson.

Stacy, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
My life has always revolved around art in some way. My parents weren’t artistic or creative but saw that I was and they supported and encouraged my interests. I grew up drawing, playing music, and making the food and crafts I saw Martha Stewart make on TV. In High School, I took a screen printing class and loved it, mostly because I could make cool bootleg band T-shirts for my friends and I, that no one else had, which was awesome! But that opened my eyes up to design in a new way. I also spent time playing in bands myself, and I designed our T-shirts, CDs, and flyers.

People always liked the quirky, fun characters I’d draw and it was kind of an easy transition to move the skills I had in illustration and printmaking into my own business. I started with an Etsy shop, then did UniqueLA and some LA craft shows and pop-up markets to get my name and brand out there, and landed some cool wholesale accounts. In the last year and a half, I started doing freelance illustration, mostly food-focused stuff, for Vegenaise, KCRW, and some local restaurants and businesses.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I’d say it’s been more like a winding road with a few bumps. The business and the things I do have changed and grown in ways I didn’t expect or envision and sometimes little ideas turned into big things that changed the direction I thought I was heading in. I think there’s definitely a learning curve to owning your own business.

I’ve invested money into a design/product that doesn’t sell as well as I’d hoped, I’ve had my Cat-Tus design knocked off multiple times and there are bootlegs being sold all over the internet, and I have had issues with stores not paying me for product I’ve delivered, which is a bummer, but hopefully it makes me smarter for the next time and ready for whatever curveball is thrown.

I’ve been fortunate to not have had too many setbacks or struggles and I’m lucky to have a great group of mentors and friends who work in this industry that I can go to with questions when I need help or advice.

STACY MICHELSON – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I’m a freelance illustrator, specializing in food, and I have my own brand, STACY MICHELSON, where I sell enamel pins and screen printed accessories, like pouches and pillows, in my online shop and in independent retailers across the country.

I like to say “I do fun” when people ask me what I do for a living because I get to draw funny food and sassy animals and stick them on products for my own brand and other people’s brands. Some of my most popular characters are Sofia the Llama, Cat-Tus ( a cat cactus hybrid), and Grumpy Coffee.

I’m proud that my work connects with people of all ages, makes them laugh, smile, gets them excited and just makes them happy to have it in their house, in their bag, on their clothes, or in their life.

I think my work in food illustration stands out for a few reasons, it’s creative and informative. I’m a big food geek, so that knowledge comes out on the page, but I’m also a goofball so that works its way in as well. With my brand, I try to combine simple, fun illustrations, and a sense of humor. I’m glad my products make people laugh and smile, from little kids to grandmas.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
I gave myself a personal project to illustrate every episode of KCRW’s Good Food show in 2017. I was a fan of the show and listened every weekend, so I thought it would be a fun and challenging assignment and maybe they’d even like the drawings if they ever saw them.

So I posted the illustrations each week on Instagram and nervously tagged the host, Evan Kleiman, and the producers, and within a few months they contacted me and hired me to design a tote bag for the station’s membership drive.

I was even a guest on the show and I got to talk about why I put faces on food and my favorite spots for vegan food in the city. Any LA foodie knows that’s the coolest food show/podcast out there, so it was pretty rad!

Pricing:

  • my enamel pins sell for $10
  • pouches are $13-$15
  • pillows for $28

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Camellia Tse

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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