05 June 2010

{Artist of the Month} Melissa Clayton

Every month we feature an "Artist of the Month": one special person who always inspires, gives that warm-fuzzy feeling, and insane desire to shop - all through their art!

This month, Kristina-Nicole is pleased to announce Melissa Clayton as the Artist of the Month! Congrats Melissa!!

For each artist, we interview them with questions about their business, marketing, art, and who they are as a person. They always inspire both the shopper & the seller! Let's dive in:


1. Tell us a little about yourself {non-business-ey}. 

My name is Melissa and I am the photographer behind Isela Maria Photography. I was born and raised in California. At the age of 22 I moved to Eastern Ohio to finish my degree, upon graduation I got married and moved to Western Michigan, a year later I moved with my husband to Boston - 4 states in 4 years! I love each of the states I have lived in and consider them all to be home, but my heart will always be at the base of the mountains in Southern California.  I'm inspired by just about everything I see, and I often times wish my eyes were cameras so I could truly document everything I see. 

2 . Tell us about your business & how long have you been doing this? 

My business is in its infancy. I started blogging and sharing my images about a year ago and in January I started to sell prints. I've been taking pictures since my sophomore year in college. I took a black and white film class to fulfill my art requirement and I fell completely in love with the art of photography. Though I had always loved photographs being able to create my own images, my own art, really captured my heart and I've never looked back. Now I shoot mainly in digital since I no longer have access to a darkroom and film even without a darkroom is very costly, but I prefer black and white film and probably always will. There is a timelessness and romance to film you simply cannot achieve with digital photography; it is that timelessness and romance that captured my heart.

Cali197, black & white

3.Whatʼs your business name & how did you get your name? 

The name of my business is Isela Maria Photography. The name comes from two of my biggest inspirations and role models. Isela was my late mother's middle name and Maria is for Mary the Mother of God. My mother used to shy away from the camera and as a result we have very few pictures of her, the lack of pictures has made me want to document my life for my loved ones and future children. And Mary, well she's the mother of God! I am a devout Catholic woman and I have a special devotion to Mary. For me Mary is the complete woman and I strive to emulate her in all that I do.

4. Walk us through a normal work day. What is your favorite part of your creative process? What is your least favorite part of your creative process? 

Usually the first thing I do on a work day is decide what it is I want to post. If it's images I've yet to edit I edit and I as I edit I think of what it is I want my images to say. I usually spend sometime brainstorming the narrative for my work and when all of that is done I create that day's post (if I know I'm going to have a particularly busy week or I'm going to be traveling I prepare my posts ahead of time). My favorite part of the creative process is taking pictures, my least favorite is editing. I do love to edit but when I've got a lot to edit all at once I tend to get overwhelmed.

Lake 22

5. How do you promote your shop? 

Last summer I started to post my recent work on my blog at the request of my sister, she lives in California and wanted to be kept up to date on my images. I started to get really great feed back from family and friends so I then began posting pictures and links on my personal facebook page. In January I started a facebook fan page, a smugmug gallery, and a business oriented twitter account. I also just recently switched my blog from blogger to tumblr. Whenever I create a new post I post the link to my personal facebook page, my facebook fan page, my personal twitter and my business twitter. 

6. Do you have a selling secret youʼd like to share? 

I'm still in the beginning stages of selling my work, I'm so new at it I don't have any secrets just yet.

flight187, black & white

7. What is one craft or art style that you have yet to try, but are interested in? 

This is completely cheesy but something I've always always wanted to do, I even considered getting my degree in it for a while. I've always wanted to learn how to sketch, design, and sew my own clothes. As a girl I really wanted to be a fashion designer. I used to cut up my doll clothes to make them more appealing and I used to do the same thing to my own clothes. Anyhow its something I'd really love to do, I have my own style that I don't often find in stores.

8.What do you do for fun {when youʼre not creating}? 

I love spending time with my husband and now that we're in a new city I love exploring the city with him or by myself. When we lived in Michigan my list of things I enjoyed was much different from my list of things here, there is so much more to see and do in Boston so my interests are expanding. In Michigan I love to get in the car and drive through the country, in Boston I love to take the T (the subway) into the city and people watch. My new favorite thing is to just wander around the city by myself. I find it difficult to get lost here so when I take the T into the city to meet my husband for dinner I'll leave a few hours early and just wander. There is so much history here I feel like I'm walking through a history book.

9. What is a motto that you live by? 

This reminds me of when I was a little girl and my mom used to the read "The Little Engine That Could" to me, I doubted myself often and to this day still do. She used to tell me whenever I felt unsure of myself to repeat over and over again "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can". That phrase, the book, and the encouragement and love of my mother have gotten me through the really tough and challenging times in my life. As corny as this is I still repeat it to myself; apparently my mother knew me better than I knew myself. So I guess if a children's book can be a motto that would be mine. 

10. Where can we find you?

Melissa is the June 2010 Artist of the Month & will be featured here onKristina-Nicole during this time! I encourage  all of you blogland citizens to visit the links provided! 

If you would like to nominate someone as Kristina-Nicole's artist of the month, just send me an email with "Artist of the Month" in the subject line.