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By jwp. Would you like to tell us a few words about yourself and your winning artwork for introduction.
Michelle. Hi, my name is Michelle Sergi but I like to go by MJ. I’m from New Jersey (USA). I’ve been studying art since I discovered my talents at a very young age in (somewhere around) the first (or second) grade. I just turned 32 years old this summer so that might give you a good idea at how long I’ve been at this. I just joined Fine Art America this month, and this is my very first contest through this website. Pop art has become my favorite style with Andy Warhol as my favorite artist so I was thrilled to discover this contest! The piece ‘The Ripple Left Behind By The Man With The Master Mind’ is a digital photograph of roses that I snapped the day before and edited in Adobe Lightroom. I felt it had just enough of a Warhol feel to it so I decided with the name I would nod the artist who has inspired me and enter it into the contest.
By jwp. What do you think that played a significant role to your decision to become an artist and expose your work?
Michelle. I never decided to become an artist. I think I was just born an artist. I could never imagine myself doing anything else other than something art related. I have had some exposure as an amateur photographer in my 20’s. That was a bit more on a social and local level though. By about 2011 I have had some of my fine art and photography displayed in a few student gallery showings at Cumberland County College. I decided that I would take some time away from my college courses to focus on producing more art & starting an online fashion business.
By jwp. Which things do you enjoy to create most and why?
Michelle. Honestly I enjoy all forms of creation. I think that’s really the best part about being an artist. We are all unlimited, and I feel that by obtaining that mindset and not containing yourself into any specified category leaves every door of opportunity open. I aim to create anything I can, even if I’m not very proficient in what I’m doing. You’ve got to try everything and keep trying to get better at it. Practice, Practice!
By jwp. Are there any artists that influenced you? How do you believe this is reflected on your work?
Michelle. There are so many artists who have influenced me. More recently I’ve been really into Andy Warhol which has reflected in many of my works over all mediums. Since last year when I discovered Egon Schiele my entire perspective on life drawing has changed. When I was younger I was more influenced by Claude Monet, Salvador Dali, and M.C. Escher. I am still greatly influenced by them, but my list of influential artists is always getting longer. Another more recent favorite is Tamara de Lempicka’s amazing Art Deco paintings! Her use of color alone is just phenominal. I think with both Warhol & Lempicka’s influence I have delved more into more intense colors and now apply a lot more color theory to my work.
By jwp. There are so many artworks on the internet nowadays. How do you think that your work different from the rest of the artists and what motivates you to continue making art?
Michelle. Art to me is like the oxygen in my lungs, and since I’m not ready to stop breathing I don’t think I will ever be uninspired to a point of stopping. We all have our ups and downs, but for some the only way to get through life is to be true to yourself. I know no other identity than being an artist. The day the drive for creation goes away will be the day I pass on. As for other artists I can’t really say much about them. Some people are more hobbyists, while others are very professional. I’ve seen some very amazingly talented artists on the internet, so I think it’s worth sifting through some eyesores to find those hidden gems. Besides, a bit of critiquing only helps you spot your own flaws. I say search it all and much respect to everyone doing their thing! The only thing that really grinds my gears is when I see people blatantly stealing art and passing it off as their own original works. There is a lot of that on the internet and I really wish there was something that could be done. Since there is not, all I can do is sigh and move onto the next one. I have a strict policy with my art work that anything I sell is original. I have shared images of fan art, but I always give credit where it is due and never try to fool people into thinking that I own any rights to images that I do not. There really is too much of that online lately!
By jwp. How would you characterize your activity in online communities like FAA or social media networks? Does it play an important role in your sales?
Michelle. Honestly I haven’t even concerned myself with sales. I probably should because I need to survive, but I don’t do art for ‘sales’. Every so often I think about it and have recently taken steps to make things available, but it’s really not why I do what I do. I’ve only recently joined FAA this month, but I have been on social media since the beginning. I am on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, and the list is always getting longer! All of my social media is listed on the links page of my website http://www.MichelleSergi.com. I even have a new business I’ve started up for a store I’ve created named AURA. For the launch I will have mostly jewelry, some of which is exclusive one of a kind and hand made by me. You can find more info on that & shop at www.wearAURA.com.
By jwp. Can art change someone’s life in a better way? Would you like to give an example?
Michelle. I do believe art can be life changing. Not everyone is an artist but I think that art therapy could be beneficial even to people who are not artists. Sometimes it’s not about making something pretty. I actually enjoy destroying things sometimes, or simply making something that is unrecognizable and otherwise from an artists perspective awful. Art goes so much further than a pretty thing hung up on a wall. I think it would be great for everyone to try it without expectations to see where it takes them.
By jwp. What is the best advice you ever heard for your work or your life as an artist.
Michelle. Oh there is so much I don’t even know if I could cover it in such a short way.I know the best advice I can give is to always stay true to yourself. Never give up on your dreams, even if it seems like it’s taking forever to reach a goal. No dream is ever too big. You can do anything so long as you keep up. Practicing and studying will keep you growing which is very important. Don’t live the life others tell you to live, do things your way. Chasing other peoples dream of you will only take you down a long road to a place you don’t want to be. We all mess up, but the key is to learn from it. If you find yourself in a funk do something different, and lower your expectations. Some of us kill ourselves with our ego, and you just have to let it go. There is a lot to learn about the ego and getting through fear in life. I think the best advice I’ve ever gotten always comes from Yogi Bhajan. Just stay positive and be grateful for everything!
Thank you so much Michelle for this wonderful interview! You can find and follow Michelle J Sergi and her brilliant work in her sites and social media pages.
Fine Art America: http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/michelle-sergi.html
Shop Fashion: http://www.wearaura.com/