MadeMay.com's VP of Growth, Tammy Dion, interviewed Rachelle Garneau, a top-tier artist on MadeMay available for custom art and painting commissions. Below is their conversation.
Why do you create the art that you do?
I create art to bring beauty in a world that forgets to stop and smell the roses once in a while. Life is hard, and making something that makes someone smile, or laugh, is worth it.
How long have you been creating art?
I was always a creative child and have been creating art my whole life. I did not start painting until my senior year of high school, however. I went to undergrad undecided, but I ended up majoring in studio art. It gave me so much more joy than the science path I wanted to go on before that. I ended up continuing with the art path and went to grad school at NYU for Art education.
Has your practice changed over time?
I guess my process has changed over time. In college, I would sketch out my ideas, use references, and then use Photoshop to lay things out before I begin. Now I find the grid method great, and still sketch out my ideas with references in Photoshop or on my iPad. I used to prep a little too much before I touch paint to the canvas, but it is nice to let the paint take it away a little more than making sure the sketch is perfect on the canvas.
How do you work today?
I work at home, in my bedroom, on an easel on my desk. I miss having a studio space, which I had when I went to college and grad school, but I make it work. Sometimes I work outdoors on my ‘plein-air’ easel, but only when my subject is in the outdoors.
What would you say is one of the most important aspects about creating art?
I think one of the most important aspects about creating art depends on the audience, but I would say making it meaningful. For commission art, I love to share a moment and have that moment represented in paint forever. Before I did commission work, I would paint a lot from reference pictures of when I would travel. I took a watercolor sketchbook around Italy, and when I got back, I would create larger oil paints from some beautiful scenery I witnessed. I really appreciate art that has a lot of meaning behind it- socially or personally- as well. Aesthetic pieces are wonderful to make and to look at, but paintings that have a lot of meaning behind them is very important to me.
What do you like about MadeMay?
I really like the concept behind having customers pick which artist they would like to create their vision, because they can see the style that certain artists have, and they can pick someone within their price range.
Do you think MadeMay helps artists who are looking to expand their work and find more commissions?
I do think MadeMay helps artists who are looking to expand their work and find more commissions, but at the same time, price ranges vary within each artist and how they value their work and time, and I think sometimes the customer is looking for the cheaper option rather than the artist they like best. I like that MadeMay has personal pages for each artist that shows some work examples. I think that is very important for the customer to see what their painting would look like, because a lot of artists have different styles of painting.
What is your favorite piece of artwork that you’ve created?
One of my favorite pieces of artwork that I have created was probably a commission I did for a dear friend. Her cat was living with us for a while, and his name is Calvin and we were joking around with getting him some clothes since he was the mascot of the apartment, and we should get him some Calvin Klein’s. I painted her cat on this fancy fluffy pillow wearing Calvin Klein underwear. I really enjoyed seeing her expression when I gave it to her, and it makes a good conversation starter in her new apartment! ☺
If you could share any words of wisdom to other artists out there, what would it be?
For any artists out there, here are some words of wisdom; keep trying. A lot of artists do not like their work in the process, but as you continue to paint or create, the work changes and gets better. I’ve worked with kids and adults while they paint and that’s something I tell them when they are feeling really down about their work. As Bob Ross says, “We don't make mistakes, just happy little accidents.” Sometimes while we are creating, it might come to something different than we were expecting in the process, and sometimes you have to work with that. I think one of the biggest mistakes an artist can do is stop working on something because “it’s ugly.” Keep on finishing that piece, even if you might need a breather from it. Let your ideas flow, and keep rolling with it.
Similarly, if you could give helpful advice to anyone looking to purchase custom artwork, what would you share?
If you are looking to purchase custom artwork, and you think you know what you want, but are not sure, be honest with your artist about that. They might be able to help you finish it the way you envision it, even if you are not sure how to express that in words. Most of us know the fundamentals of art and can help a piece look more put together than you might envision it. Trust the artist, but also be honest if there is something you don’t like in the process.
When you’re not creating art, what do you like to do in your free time?
During quarantine when I am not creating art, I have been using my Nintendo switch, watching nostalgic movies or TV shows, or coming up with other ways to create art. I feel like I always have ideas, or reference images that inspire me to create, which I will write down in a long, long list on my phone. (which sometimes gets forgotten about.) Soaking in the world around us, especially at times like these can be hard. Art can be such an integral part of staying sane, but so can distracting yourself, in healthy ways, with things that you enjoy. Free time does not always need to be filled with productivity, even though that guilt can still be there. It’s all about balance.