Graphic Design

★ Artist Interview – Michelle Romo of Crowded Teeth ★

I’ve been a fan of Michelle’s work for years! I love her style and she’s been a huge inspiration for me. :)

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Could you tell us a little about your creative process? What’s a day in the life of Michelle Romo like?
Day to day is always something new! I currently have 2 day jobs! So I have to start off making sure all of those projects are taken care of first. When working on my own projects I look at my schedule (art shows, and freelance, and other misc. projects) and usually pick first based on the deadline. I’ll finish all of the illustration work first, then if the projects require something past just illustration I will work on the production file and communicate with the manufacturer (laser cutters, stained glass people, jewelry makers).

Depending on what the item is it can take a day to a month to get the pieces back to me. Then I spend time painting, gluing or packaging a finished item. So any given day could be any part of that process! Most days it’s a mix of all of those things.

If you could do an artist collaboration with anyone in the world, who would it be and why?
I’d love to collaborate with Junko Mizuno! I just love her art so much, she’s a long time favorite of mine.

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You did some amazing work for the Flaming Lips (this is all sorts of awesome!)  How did this come about?
Thanks! It all came about through the magic of Twitter!

I ran into Michelle Martin-Coyne at a Flaming Lips show and brought her a bunch of Crowded Teeth bags and prints. Then we just started talking on Twitter and she asked me if I wanted to make some stuff with her! I said yes! She is an unbelievably sweet person. From there she passed my contact information to Wayne Coyne and he has asked me to do some really cool projects for the band. Wayne is always very kind and I am always thrilled when he asks me to draw something. Being a huge fan of The Flaming Lips it’s a real treat to work with them!

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What do you think is the best/worst part of being an artist?
Best is getting to draw silly things that other people like.
Worst is hating all of those things the second after you finish them – haha!

What is your happiest memory?
My happiest memory is just kind of a general memory of being a kid during the summer. Watching old sitcoms, playing with both cars and My Little Ponies on this big brown rug in the living room. Life was easy! Feeling warm and happy.

What snack food, drink, song inspires you?
Snack: Flaming Hot Cheetos (Why are they so good! They are made out of poison! I know they are bad for me but if they are near me I must eat them)
Food: Cake all the time.
Drink: I don’t know! I mostly drink water – it’s not very inspiring.
Song: Man – tough to pick one! I do like the Dr. Dog song Livin’ A Dream right now though.

If you could have a superpower what would it be and why?
The ability to freeze time! There is never enough time to do all of the things I want to do. Mostly I’d just use it to nap more.

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Can you give some advice to artists who are trying to start their own business?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. When I started I had a hard time letting go and asking people to help me out. This resulted in me doing my own accounting, making my own sales calls, figuring out production, shipping orders, etc. etc. Of course I think it’s good when you start out to learn how to do all aspects of a business, and a lot of times it’s out of necessity! But I think it’s also important to play to your strengths and ask people (or hire people if you can!) to help.

After being a control freak and doing all of that I went crazy for awhile, life just became too overwhelming. When I pulled myself together I realized that what I really wanted to do was draw. I refocused and started to get into licensing my artwork to companies who specialize in making products. For me this ended up being a better option than managing production myself. I think if I would have just let go sooner and asked for help I would have been able to grow my business and I probably wouldn’t have felt so overwhelmed. I ended up going in a different direction – but it worked out in the end!

If you could speak to one kind of animal, what would it be?
Cats. My cats (Hurts and Morgan) specifically.

What can we expect from you in the future? Let us know of any art shows coming up. :)
I am planning a big show in June! But I can’t talk about it yet! It’s going to be the biggest solo-type show I’ve ever done though! I’m in few local shows coming up soon: a Star Wars Tribute Show at Gallery Nucleus (opening May 4th), a Go Nagai Tribute Show at Q-Pop Show (opening May 11th), and I am curating and doing art for a group show at Leanna Lin’s Wonderland in September!

Oh! And also 3 new pieces for the Wonderground Gallery in Downtown Disney. The new theme is a secret – but the opening is mid-June!