HomeDIY CraftBecoming Michéle Brummer Everett - The House That Lars Built

Becoming Michéle Brummer Everett – The House That Lars Built

The Becoming series began in 2019. We wanted to hear from women in different walks of life and how they approach creativity, career goals, and more — mostly the whys and hows behind it all. It’s been great to do these interviews and get a “behind the scenes” look at so many inspiring women! You can see them all here.

I’m thrilled to share an interview with one of Lars’ frequent contributors and one of my nearest and dearest illustrators and designers. Michelle Brumer Everett. She’s probably the funniest person I know in real life, and I hope you all know her too. She’s the type of person who remembers what you once said years ago and surprises you with it years later. Reading her answers gave me a huge dose of LOLZ and reminded me how much I appreciate her, her unique story, and her endless talent.

One of the most gifted storytellers out there, if you ever get to experience it, sit back and relax (plus she comes with her amazing, charming South African accent). We’re all lucky to be able to experience her mind and talent through some of the books she illustrates and the products she designs, and I’m encouraged that she wants to develop her writing because we all deserve to hear more! She knows I love pressuring her to do this or that because it’s like Veruca Salt “I want it all!” Without further ado…

Where did you grow up? Were there aspects of your childhood that influenced what you do now?

I grew up near Johannesburg in South Africa. My childhood and early experiences are very vivid and tell me a lot about how I see myself and the world around me. I’m not sure my interests have changed much since I was young. I always loved drawing and had many adults in my life who took me seriously and never belittled my interests. My father worked at a university and used their giant industrial staplers to make me sketchbooks out of the paper calendars that were thrown away every month. He would put different colored card covers on them, and I would go through several sketchbooks every day. You could say I was an early adopter of “cycling.”

What did you dream of becoming when you were young?

Honestly, I was convinced I would be an artist who just happened to moonlight as an archaeologist in my spare time. I found an arrowhead while hiking once, and when my parents built a swimming pool I found a little ivory box filled with carved ivory rings and that captured my imagination.

What sparked your interest in drawing?

Most of my work so far has been children’s illustrations and designs. I was a nanny in college, and some of my happiest memories from that time in my life were drawing with my kids, listening to their stories, and reading what seemed like millions of books. Children are not limited to real life and anything is possible and acceptable, so I was very happy to stay in this world.

What are three words that describe your style?

Colourful, simple and fun.

What is your educational background and how has it shaped or changed your current career?

She received her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I loved my time there and was able to test and experiment with many different ways of making art (printmaking, fiber art, animation, sculpture, and die making). Perhaps the lasting gift from that experience is that I never felt restricted by what a designer/illustrator should do and I just do what I want and am happy to find different ways to achieve it.

What inspired you to become an artist?

When I was in school, many of my teachers would give me the same criticism: “This looks more like design or illustration than art.” This bothered me at the time but I realized that this is exactly what I loved making and what I was drawn to and there is nothing wrong with that. After I graduated, my husband Daniel got a job as a professor at Utah State and I was a little sad. I felt like I was becoming an adult in Chicago and the thought of leaving the place and people I loved terrified me. He left Chicago about a month before I did, and my sister helped me pack up and drive across America. When I arrived, Daniel had set up one of the rooms in our new house as a studio just for me, which was a huge turning point. It was a very good kind of pressure to do something I’d always wanted to do.

Did you have any mentors who helped you along your path? What advice have you taken with you?

This is a big question. I have had many mentors and encouragers in my life. When I was young, my parents and grandparents treated me as if I was already an artist. In high school I had a teacher who pushed me to go to art school. In college I had professors, especially a Franciscan friar fiber teacher who really guided me through a sea of ​​choices that seemed like overwhelming choices. I’m not sure I remember specific advice but I remember how it made me feel and it pushed me in the right direction.

What project are you particularly proud of and why?

A few years ago, I illustrated two books, “My first book on feminism for boys” And “My first book about feminism”. Even though I didn’t write the words — the author is Julie Myerberg — I feel really proud to put this out into the world.

Where do you find inspiration?

My parents traveled with us a lot when I was a child and I still have a few sketchbooks where I hurriedly tried to capture all the new things that caught my eye. I’ve been very lucky to still travel a lot as an adult, and being able to step back from my life a little bit and go to different places is very inspiring to me. Even going to a local grocery store in a different country and marveling at the packaging is something I love. I have family that lives in Japan and my husband works there every year, so I spend a month or two there every year for about 15 years. I spend a lot of time in bookstores, grocery stores, pharmacies, and thrift stores when we go. I’m so grateful for the iPhone so I can now take a million pictures instead of drawing in my little sketchbook.

How do you establish social relationships in the creative field?

I’m actually quite a solitary creature, so I feel it’s a miracle that I have a group of dear friends who are so talented and superstars in their respective fields. I love being able to talk about life and work and being able to come up with ideas when I need help, I feel so lucky! How this happened…I’m not sure. They’re probably really good and would convince me to move out of my house.

How has social media affected your work?

Social media is hard for me. Do I love sending silly memes to my sister late at night like it’s my job? Yes! However, I definitely feel that for me personally, I become more creative when I spend less time on social media. I deleted Instagram from my phone months ago, and now I check it on my iPad sometimes in the evening. It works for me.

Who are the artists and creatives you look up to, both historically and today?

Artists: Sol LeWitt, Laila Ali, Reineke Dijkstra, Marcel Dzama, Royal Art Lodge, Margaret Kilgallen, Barry McGee, Anne Truitt.

Illustrators: Carson Ellis, Dick Bruna, Rebecca Green, Mark Buttevant, Jon Classen, Taro Gumi, Christian Robinson, Beatrix Potter, Richard Scarry, Quentin Blake.

What books, movies, shows, or music get you excited these days?

I’ve just finished reading Cutting for Stone, The Water Pact, and The Island of Lost Trees. I also spend some time reading complete nonsense… If I were the protagonist an old lady from the South would solve my murders!

The movies I’ve loved the most lately are After Young, Fire of Love, and Luxor.

We just finished watching “Summer Camp Island” and “Wolf Boy and the Everything Factory” with our kids and it was magical. I want to live on Summer Camp Island as soon as possible.

What does your workspace look like?

I have an office/studio in my home. It has a desk, a computer, and a flat file in which I store all sorts of nonsense. Becoming a parent has changed how and where I work. Where I used to work exclusively in my office, I now work around my house often surrounded by small, half-dressed pizzas that small children eat (see below).

Describe some habits that keep you motivated and productive. How do you get out of a creative slump?

Planning ahead is key for me. I have a planner and write down everything I need to do weekly and then check things off every night before I go to bed. It’s the only way I can think clearly and get things done.

I’m often in a slump and the only thing that gets me out of it is making time for personal projects that aren’t work related. The freedom to experiment with my own comments only took me out of the inevitable moments.

What is a typical day for you?

Curse the sky and promise me that today will be different and that I will sleep early for once!!!
– Hug my family
-We get my eldest son ready to go to school and get him out the door
-Eating breakfast with my youngest
– Get ready for the day
– Run errands/everyday things around the house
– Take my youngest child to nursery
-a job
-One of us brings the children
-Have a snack/read books/quiet time
We do a nightly routine: dinner/bath/bed
-If we need groceries I like to go late at night. It’s empty, quiet and kind of eerie.
-* a job
-Daniel and I are hanging out and watching a show
– go to bed
-He decided I was too awake to sleep** and partied until 1am or later.
(*If I was working I would do this all night)
(**By party I mean making a cup of rooibos tea and watching architecture videos on YouTube)

What advice would you give to someone who wants to teach themselves a new hobby or skill?

Failure is how we learn. I tell my kids this all the time and try desperately to instill it in myself as well. There will never be a “right” time to learn or do something you’ve always wanted to do. Take those first steps and know that at first it won’t be easy, and it may even be a little scary. There is tremendous growth to be had when diving into something new and unknown. trust yourself.

No one likes to talk about it, but can you share any advice regarding financing your business?

I think it’s important to be transparent with something like this. I have an artist partner who is also a professor at a university that provides big things like a steady income and health insurance for our family. I’m self-employed, making income ebb and flow. I am fully aware that I am in a very privileged position.

I will say that having an accountant who is familiar with outside income (from both me and Danielle) has helped tremendously!

Is there anything else you would like to “become”?

writing! I feel more comfortable doing the drawing part of stories and I hope I can get out of my comfort zone and practice writing more.

What do you hope to achieve in the next ten years?

I want to travel to places I have never been before and I especially want to take my husband and children to South Africa where I am from. I would also like to feature more children’s books. Mostly, I want to take my own advice from some of the previous questions and jump into the darkness of some projects I’ve been wanting to start.

On her Instagram account @mlbeprojects


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