Meet Melissa Contreras (Axel Honey)

So many inspiring, creative women out there! I'm constantly reminded that blogging is the only way I'd know about so many of them. It is via all this web digging that I found out about Melissa Anderson Contreras, also known as Axel Honey, an artist based in Los Angeles. Her work is so colorful, full of whimsy, and very detailed, I felt like I had to get to know her better. She received her BA in Fine Art from UCLA and made a living as a graphic designer for quite some time before pursuing her dream: painting. Yeah Melissa!

Self portrait, Melissa A. Contreras.

I can see her illustrating children's books, greeting cards, product packaging, she's super talented. And it's clear to me that she found her visual voice, her unique style, because her work is authentic, you can see the passion in her lines and colors. Here's a little q + a I had with her recently that I think you'll enjoy, and she exposed me to a few new links, so click around. I kept it short since it's Friday and I don't know about you, but I'm in weekend mode!

First Melissa, can you tell us what you do for a living? And where do you live?

Melissa: I'm an artist, currently not making much of a living but I have done: catalog layout, product packaging, tee-shirt graphics. I live in Fresno, as of August 1, quite a change from Los Angeles, but it is my hometown and I am near my family and more affordable real estate.

Where do you sell your work?

Melissa: Currently I have a little show up at The Kids Are Alright, a store in Echo Park (Los Angeles). I also have a piece hanging at Thinkspace Gallery (Los Angeles) and The Hive Gallery (Los Angeles). I have work for sale online at Rising Artist Series as well as a few other places. I have my art on products at My Favorite Mirror and I am on of the artists available for web design at Aeolidia Web Design.

I guess I should have asked this first, what do you sell? :)

Melissa: Paintings, mooshees and cooshees (small hand painted sculptures) and other
crafty things.

What inspires your designs?

Melissa: Everything. I love folk art, nature, good design and beauty in unexpected places.

I notice lots of American Indians and nature in your work, why?

Melissa: They embody a lot of things I embrace: rich culture, relationship with the environment, an appreciation of nature, geometric patterns, feathers. A romantic view in a world that is becoming homogenized and man made. Also, I grew up in Central California. It is probably the closest to a true American culture that I have been
exposed to.

Describe the type of client that shops with you?

Melissa: People who appreciate handmade and enjoy whimsy.

What are the store display photos all about over on your Flickr page, did you design the window? Or? I love seeing artists commissioned to do window displays!

Melissa: I created the window display for my solo show, Sickly Sweet, at Black
on Sawtelle in June. The characters are modeled after these little sculpted ornaments I make, that are about 4" tall. I tried to make it look like one of my paintings in 3D. The people that ran the series are using it again at Atmosphere Boutique on Vermont in Los Angeles. I installed it a little differently to fit their windows better. Here is the original setup (below).

Thank you Melissa, so nice to meet you and view your work! And if you have time and would like to learn more about Melissa, click on over to im right your wrong.

(images from melissa contreras)