"Following the artist path has found me reconnecting with my culture, and it's become an anchor in a sea of (at times) overwhelming creative possibility. It's been a very enriching experience and I'll keep learning and working to honor the culture and tribe."
Presenting our Kindred Artist of the Week series! We are big fans of all the artists we work with and we are so excited to share their stories!
This week’s featured artist is local illustrator/designer, Michaela Goade. We can't believe we're alive at the same time as Michaela and get to watch her artist career unfold before our very eyes. Our grandchildren are gonna squeal when we tell them we were friends with her. You probably know her work through some of her award-winning children's book illustrations, many of which we carry as prints as well. Not only is her work beautiful, it's thoughtful and magical and steeped with exquisite feelings of place. Read more about her and her work in this week's interview!
Who are you?
My name is Michaela, and I'm an illustrator, artist and graphic designer living in Tlingit aaní (Juneau, Alaska).
What do you do?
A bunch of things! I've found that having an inspiring and sustainable art career means a constant juggle of different creative pursuits. Currently I illustrate children's books (and am starting to write my own as well), sell my art, and also take on various graphic design and illustration projects for clients. The picture books I have had the wonderful opportunity to work on have all been centered around indigenous stories written by indigenous people, and it has been a true joy to work on these projects.
Who/what inspires you?
To put it simply, place and culture. I'm deeply inspired by Southeast Alaska with its beautiful and ethereal landscapes. I love the ocean, the rainforests, the animals and rain and fog and moss and magic – living here is a never-ending adventure! I'm also very much inspired by my Tlingit heritage as well as the other indigenous cultures of the region (Haida and Tsimshian). Following the artist path has found me reconnecting with my culture, and it's become an anchor in a sea of (at times) overwhelming creative possibility. It's been a very enriching experience and I'll keep learning and working to honor the culture and tribe.
What’s your favorite moment in the process?
I love when the first bolt of inspiration hits me – that flash of creative vision is so exciting! Sometimes I don't experience that feeling for a long time, so I've learned to really hold onto those moments.
I also really love when I start seeing a picture book come together. After months of working on sketches, countless emails and phone calls, and revising the sketches until everything is approved, it's an exhilarating process to see the final paintings start to take over my studio one by one. When working on sketches I leave out color and most details, so when I'm finally painting, there is a magic that comes from really being in that moment. There is a dance between intention and spontaneity that often leads to the best work!
What’s a trick of your trade, or a piece of advice for other artists in your medium?
Don't be afraid to experiment and create the pieces that excite you, regardless of whether you think they'll turn out or not. Some of my best work has come from the mindset of "well, let's just see how this plays out..." If it doesn't work out in the end, just begin again! I've also found that when I set out to make the work that I'm really passionate about vs. what's trending or what I think others want me to make, it shows in the final piece.
I have a couple books set to publish in the next year, which is incredibly exciting! First up is "Encounter," written by Brittany Luby and published by Little Brown for Young Readers, out this October. Then "We Are Water Protectors," written by Carole Lindstrom and published by Roaring Brook Press, will release next spring for Earth Day. I'm about to begin two new books, including my author-illustrator debut, and I couldn't be more excited about it.
See more prints and books illustrated by Michaela Goade here!