• UO Interviews: Grace Miceli

    This month, we’re excited to team up with Passerbuys — a website made to showcase the raw, un-curated and effortless beauty of women — on a co-hosted panel discussion on forging a creative life after college. Leading up to the event on January 11 at Brooklyn's Space Ninety 8, we visited each of the panel speakers to learn a little bit more about them.

    Grace Miceli’s hand-drawn illustrations may look cute at first glance, but they deal with important, real life issues. Ahead of her upcoming Passerbuys panel, we chat with Grace about what causes matter to her most and what she’s hoping to accomplish in 2017.
    Photos by Julia Robbs

    Hi Grace! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Where do you live? What do you do? 
    I’m a freelance illustrator and curator living in Brooklyn, NY. I have a clothing & accessory line called Art Baby Girl and I also run the online exhibition space Art Baby Gallery.

    Tell us a little bit about your business/art! How did you get started?
    I started making and sending out zines when I was a student at Smith College, mostly as a way to connect with friends I had met online. Slowly that evolved to selling zines and making stickers. I always had friends suggest that I put my drawings on clothes and a few years ago I had saved up enough money to try that and I’ve just kept going since. It’s so cool to dream up an idea and then be able to physically manifest it, I don’t think I’ll ever stop being excited about that.

    We love how much your work (a blend of serious/funny) has resonated with the internet and girls in general. When you first started out, did you expect such a response from people?
    I had no idea what to expect but I’m super stoked by the response my work gets, and I feel really grateful for that. 

    What do you hope people take away from your art?
    I think humor is a valuable way to form connection and also an access point for more serious topics of conversation. To elicit any response, whether it’s laughter or questioning or inspiration is really important to me. My goal is to create entertainment that instead of helping you tune out the reality of the world instead allows for a mirror to be created that in turn activates how you see or understand what is going on around you. 

    How has Instagram and the internet has influenced your work? 
    The internet was the first place I ever found an audience for my work. It is a very democratic space, I love the accessibility it provides. As social media has evolved and algorithms and ads are in place that has definitely shifted. But I can confidently say that I can’t imagine having a career or many of the opportunities I’ve been offered without the internet and specifically social media. 

    Do you have a favorite piece you’ve worked on in 2016? 
    I can’t choose! I think it’s a tie between the exhibition “Why Didn’t You Like My Pic?” that I curated in Taipei this summer. I leaned so much from working with and talking to other young artists while I was there. I’m also really proud of the artwork I did for the singles off of Mac Miller’s new album, I had never worked in direct response to music and it was a super rewarding challenge. 

    What kind of things are you feeling inspired by today, right now? 
    Recently I’ve been really inspired by a lot of psychedelic 1970s animation, I’ve been watching scenes from Belladonna of Sadness daily. I really want to develop a cartoon series of my own, so I’ve slowly been teaching myself to animate. 

    What’s the best part about living and working as an artist in New York City?
    I feel so lucky to have met so many incredibly supportive friends and collaborators. It’s very easy for me to find both visual and mental stimulation in the city, I get so inspired by the nonstop energy I feel all around me. 

    The hardest part? 
    It’s really expensive and therefore can be exhausting to support yourself. During my first year living in NYC I was working 4 part-time jobs at once, I went months without a single day off because I was trying to figure out how the art world worked while also paying rent and developing my own practice, that was wild but I learned so much. 

    Finally, what do you hope for in 2017, either for the world or for yourself? 
    I want to continue using my platform to provide guidance and support to young artists. I also hope to see more professional creatives, myself included, step outside of their comfortable bubbles and get involved. As an artist or brand it’s easy to stay centered on developing your personal success and I think a lot of us lose sight of the immense privilege that comes with having a creative job.

    New York friends: come out for a conversation with Passerbuys and a group of other inspiring women next Wednesday, Jan 11, at Space Ninety 8 in Brooklyn. 

    To see more from Grace, follow her on Instagram