We had the good fortune of connecting with Mikaela Clark and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mikaela, do you have some perspective or insight you can share with us on the question of when someone should give up versus when they should keep going?
It’s difficult to be able to recognize when we’re persevering for the sake of the art, and when we’re holding on to aspects of our lives that are truly seasonal, that we should maybe just let go. It’s not always clear which is which. Painting came into my life when I was grieving the loss of something else. It was a bridge between college and adulthood; a bridge between a lifetime of training to be a full time musician, and health issues that made that dream a little harder to pursue. Because of how it started, it took a long time for me to stop seeing my artwork as a bridge, and to begin seeing it as a “path” that I was always supposed to walk down. Therefore, I’ve had many moments where I thought I would leave painting behind; but at the end of the day when I looked at its effect on my life it was nourishing and healing. When I take stock of painting’s influence on my life, rather than waiting for a marker of success to tell me whether to continue or to give up, that’s how I know to keep going. I deserve wellness; and painting keeps me well!
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I see my art as a retrospective look back at more childlike versions of ourselves. My aim with everything I make is to surround my life with signifiers of that inner kid, because I never want to lose my playfulness. My art is, colorful, contemporary, and uses a lot of traditionally childlike symbols of youthfulness — like flora, butterflies, bubble letters, etc. When I first got into painting, my art style made me really insecure. I was outlining everything in black, I was literal (realistic) with my interpretations when I’d always respected more impressionist styles of art; it didn’t feel like capital “A” art. Over time I can appreciate it for what it is, a point of view that pulls from the works that bring me peace and joy in my daily life. I watch a lot of animated television and movies, I love all things Marvel and DC hero, I love comics. I’m a very anxious and emotional person, so the art I consume has to have a sense of levity to it. If I could leave someone with one impression of my brand, it’s that our clothing, our art, exists to bring you joy.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Well I’m based in New York! So I’d definitely have to take them to my fave spots in Brooklyn. We’d start with a picnic at Club Prospect, which is what we started calling Prospect Park after COVID kept us outside last year, plenty of cheeses and good drinks. Then I’d take them to Ode to Babel for drinks, the William Vale for views, and Soho for a little Nike Town exploration 🙂
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
To be honest, the list of people who deserve credit in my story is as long as a CVS receipt (read: miles long). Firstly I have to credit my mom. She was the one who first taught me to draw, taught me how to write, make clothing, create things with my hands just for the sake of my own enjoyment and exploration. She instilled a deep love of creativity in me. Then I also have to recognize my dad, whose lifelong love of music is largely responsible for my core passion of singing and writing songs. Though I don’t sing professionally, being a musician largely influences how I paint. Colors are like notes that blend together and tell their own story. Those are the heavy hitters, but I think any type of success, as subjective as “success” can be, takes a village. I wouldn’t have anything without the friends who believed in me and supported my art in the early day when I was painting on the floor of my apartment.
Louisa Wells Mikaela Clark