We think that the advice “Be ok with your work just sucking to you, because it will for a while,” pretty much sums up the genius, inspiring artist that is Michelle Armas. As one of our newest Atlanta City Guide sellers, Michelle brings beautiful paintings as well as a unique point of view to Chairish. After a year in the New York branding world, Michelle gave it all up to try and make it as a painter. #Inspiration, much? We chat with Michelle to get learn more about taking risks, motivation, and pretty much how she stays so badass.
You took a huge leap of faith when you left the corporate world to pursue a dream of living off your art: what in particular was missing from your old work-life?
What was missing from my old work life? Everything good: No control over my time, no control over my environment, or the people I worked with, no creative freedom, no down time. It was very hard to be motivated about doing grudge work for big companies whose products I really felt dubious about. There was so much competition between the designers, and so many office politics. I mean, eye roll!
What do you enjoy most about being an artist?
Being alone with my paints and my paper. Being able to create all the time. I have a strong memory of being a small child, and I would have “nap time”, where I was alone in my room with my crayons and the play easel that my dad got me. The lights were dim and it was a rainy afternoon. Suddenly I was really aware of how magical it was and I have been chasing that same feeling ever since.
Where do you find your inspiration?
All over the place. Anything I look at could be inspiration. Right now I have a coffee cup next to me that’s white china with burgundy paint on it, next to a purple oxalis in a terracotta pot. The rich brown of the coffee next to the reds in the burgundy and the blues in the oxalis and the creamy white….I expect that will subconsciously appear in a painting soon.
Any advice to people who want to change careers?
Freaking just do it! 1. Figure out what you need to save up to give yourself at least 3 months of no income. Ok, say that’s $5k a month, so save up $15k. 2. Have an emergency back up plan, like my “go live at home” last resort. 3. Write a list of goals for yourself that have to be met for you to have “made it.” For me, it was a certain amount of income, a certain amount of sales per week, certain amount of exposure. This way you have something to work on every day. You wake up and say today I need to get my work on a blog, let’s do that all day until it gets done. 4.You have to be willing to work at it all the time, and you have to be ok with the idea that you may fail. This seems to me to be the hardest hurdle for most people– that and believing that they have the power to change the direction of their lives. So many people feel like work is just supposed to suck, but if you stay in a job because you are scared to leave the security it offers, then maybe you’re just the kind of person who chooses security over freedom. That’s ok. But suffering all the time because you keep making that choice, and it isn’t what you want, is silly and robs you of your true potential.
You’re currently in the process of remodeling your home. Are you getting any help with that or doing all the design yourself? Where do you find the decor for your home?
I am making all of the design choices myself, but I do have a contractor who is great at working from my sketches and paying attention to the details that I care about. I’ve always had this fantasy that I would find each item meticulously, scouring flea markets and stores for the most unique and perfect item, but the reality is that I am too busy for that. I honestly would rather paint so I have a few stores and sources that I always turn to and choose from there. This process has taught me a lot about what my style actually is because I just choose what I like best from each category, rather than try to copy a look or create a certain effect. So in the end my home doesn’t reflect my taste range as much as it is a reflection of my personality.
I have bought a lot of things from Charish, including cool art, a pair of moulded wood and cain chairs, moroccan floor pillows and a rug. I recently re-did both bathroom in our home and Rejuvenation was my first choice along with DWR (for lighting and a Vipp trashcan), I like eBay for rugs, and vintage textiles, but then I get tables and most lighting and such at vintage stores around me.
Any advice to people who want to explore finding an outlet in art?
Just create all the time. Be ok with your work just sucking to you, because it will for a while. For every perfectly composed piece of art you make, there are 20, 50 or 100 crappy ones that you threw away or painted over. Just buy more paper or paint when you run out, even if you don’t like anything that you made. You have to just keep going and going and going.
Now… for the lighting round!
My design motto is…
Just start creating and it will come to you if you let go.
My favorite trip I ever took was...
I lived in Spain for a year when I was in college, and I traveled all over Europe on my own or with friends. It was kind of super romantic to be so poor in a time when cell phones didn’t have maps on them. We’d get lost and hitch rides with locals. It was a blast.
If I didn’t own a store, I would…
Run a catering company for super fancy parties and stuff.
I can’t live without my…
Family! But I know you mean in a design sense so then it would be soft pastels.
Photos by Paige French
My favorite season is _____ because…
Autumn, because the light changes, it becomes brighter and clearer and I love to bundle up and take long walks in the cool weather. I love the leaves changing, I love a roaring fire. It’s a good excuse to cuddle. I loves scarves… I could go on….
Pick your poison: go-to type of beer, wine or cocktail:
Ohhh slightly dirty Grey Goose Martini, blue cheese olives, very cold, up. Repeat.
Favorite fictional character:
Miss Fisher from Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. Were you expecting something more high brow?
The film whose aesthetic most closely resembles my store is…
Woooo, no frigg’n idea. But I can tell you that any Wes Anderson Movie inspires me, very much.
If I could go back in time, I’d go to…
Ancient Egypt! But only if I could be invisible. Otherwise, too scary.
Shop Michelle’s colorful art here.