In Conversation with Melissa A. Day
Artist and Designer,
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
My history has been artistically motivated from the beginning. I moved to Detroit in my early 20s and I think that was the biggest unanticipated change in my artistic career. I moved here to go to a small fine-arts school. I started with photography, print making, sculpture. I had taken some painting classes but I wasn’t very good at it until I met this teacher who told me that no matter what the assignment given is, keep doing what you are doing. Then I felt very liberated to find my visual voice. I really like tying different elements together, like texture, collage work. My work involves a lot of collage, just piecing things together creates a constructive history.
What is your personal philosophy in life?
I would say I am a humanist. I think we all work with what we have. We all have the same basic wants or needs as humans. We all want to be loved and have personal connections. I feel like we all are trying to have our voice heard, the way we go about it might look different but it is still coming from the basic needs we trying to have met.
How would you define your personal style?
It is this exploration of bringing things together. I think I have been given a gift to have things visually come together in a way that cannot be named or be something specific. But if someone were to see something they would say that makes sense, that’s her style.
What inspires your work?
The biggest thing I always come back to is both urban and world. More urban for some reason. I think having lived in Detroit, I find it beautiful and feel the history is still there. You can still see it because of the economic status, it hasn’t necessarily evolved as another community might have with more resources but seeing that I can create my own narrative. I feel like I want to explore it and dig in deeper. This narrative goes into my work. There is an overlay of this history.
What is your vision for your work?
Going forward I would like to see sustainability in fashion. Right now I am very consumed by all forms of my art. I am strongly focused on clothing right now, I find it very satisfying and visually pleasing. I would like to see it on other people. I would like people wearing my clothing to feel good about themselves, to feel like they are a part of the sustainability initiative. I think my clothing has a sort of edginess to it, it is more complex, original and unique item. So when someone puts them on I want them to own it.
Who are your favourite artists?
I would say, Robert Rauschenberg. I think the artists I’m interested in have a certain narrative to their work. They have this certain significance, there are things that are recognisable but also abstract. So while they have their own story, the person looking can have their own interpretation of it. My work also has this precipice of things that are obvious but it can have any meaning you are looking to find.
What is your favourite travel destination and why?
I romanticise the idea of travel. I’m a home body, I like to stay where I am. Even if I go somewhere beautiful, in a few days I feel like it would be better if I were home.
Your favourite film and book that motivate & inspire you.
My favourite book of all time is The Fall by Albert Camus. I think it has many different interpretations, but it is to me about the human condition. We are all flawed, to a large degree self-absorbed. It is very introspective in the way it gives us a picture of how we are. There’s a lot of wit and humour to it as well. We are all flawed as humans.
I really like filmmakers Stanley Kubrick, Wes Anderson. I think they have some sort of dry wit and humour, but also very real. I wish visually my work could contain the beauty that they create. I feel like each film still, is a work of art, I like the worlds that they create.
Tell us something about your brand.
My clothing line is a sort of exploration, like when I’m working with my paintings. I would sometimes look at my paintings, I would step back and say what if I just found it this way. That way I would know if it was finished or if I felt like it had come to be what it was meant to be. With my clothing, I’m doing the same exploration. I find second-hand clothes and develop them into my own aesthetic. It has the same feel as my artistry, so looking for different textures and colours. A lot of my clothing has a raw hem, it has a lot of history and I’m creating my own history with it.
Can you tell us more about your product development process?
It’s very solitary, artistic. I find items of clothing, I visualise how I want it to be, do some hand stitching. It is sort of like sculpting. It happens without too much thought, I know how I want the fabric to feel, but it is also very unconscious in the way it happens. Very organically. That inspires something to bring in other pieces as well.