Alt: Loves Local: We talk with Michelle Schofield the artist behind Emily Grace Artwork

At Alt:, we’re passionate about supporting local artists. Michelle Schofield is one of them.

A St Kilda mum who works part-time, Michelle juggles a career and family with her own one-woman business: Emily Grace Artwork. Named after the middle names of her two daughters, Michelle’s flair for photography, innate sense of creativity and passion for sustainability come together in this blossoming business.

We’ll be hosting Emily Grace Artwork’s first public exhibition later this month right here in our store. In the lead-up to the event, we had a chat with Michelle about art, sustainability, and taking that scary leap to follow one’s passion.

In five words, describe Emily Grace Artwork.

Timeless, uplifting, beautiful, local, sustainable.

When did Emily Grace Artwork begin?

Although I took the plunge into launching a business mid-last year, it’s really been a 20-year journey: as I’ve travelled and explored, I’ve been building my collection of images.

I’ve managed everything myself to this point – from development of my brand and building my website, to sourcing suppliers and determining my offering. I love the business side of managing Emily Grace Artwork (although not as much as the creating of course!), so that has been a fun journey too.

Following passions – especially artistic ones – can be daunting. What pushed you to pursue your art professionally?

Oh, absolutely daunting!

Photography has always been my ‘thing’. Through high school I was always that student with a camera in her hand, spending lunchtimes in the darkroom and getting involved in image capturing for my school and my friends whenever I could.

After taking the less daunting route and obtaining a marketing degree then establishing a business career, I decided to go back and study photography part-time at the Photography Studies College in Melbourne.

If I picture my 10-year, light-on-the-hill goal, the one visualisation that makes my fingers tingle and heart beat faster is the thought of sustaining a career in creating art. So I have to go for it, right?

How did your collaboration with Alt: come about?

I actually discovered Alt: Living via Instagram, and it turned out to be one of those ‘meant to be’ situations.

Late last year I was at a point where I was ready to start looking for businesses to collaborate with. When I discovered their page and read up about them, it just felt like a great fit. So I got in contact and we started chatting from there!

What drew you to Alt:?

I love so much about the proposition behind Alt:!

We are both young, small, local businesses. We both have a focus on ethical, sustainable business decisions.

And we’re all mothers managing the juggle and desire to grow our own businesses. It’s wonderful working with like-minded, genuine partners. I feel there is a real desire for us to collectively succeed by offering the best possible products to our customers.

Can you briefly describe how you take an environmentally sustainable approach to your art?

Of course – this is something I’m very passionate about!

My aim is to create pieces that are purchased by people who intend to keep them for a lifetime.

I get a little angry with the consumerism driven by stores that mass-produce art and then create fashion cycles to encourage constant turnover. I can’t compete with retailers who have prints cheaply produced overseas, and I’ve decided I don’t want to.

So, my focus is on creating photographic-based artwork that is timeless in design. I use a printer and framer who hand-makes everything locally in Melbourne, using sustainably produced Australian timber. And I limit my production quantities to 50 of each sized print so there is no risk of a mass-produced piece that appears on everyone’s wall (and then loses its unique quality).

I also create everything to order so there is no wastage.

Will there be a theme to the works you showcase at the Alt: exhibition?

I will be showcasing two genres of my work: a series of my more serene landscapes, and a collection of my abstract images.

I feel these two genres speak to two different types of audiences (and I love them both!).

The landscapes I’ve selected are generally muted and serene, making them great for traditional homes or more relaxed spaces. And my abstracts are fun and lively – very suited to many homes in St Kilda (including mine!).

The Emily Grace Artwork exhibition opens on Thursday, February 28th at 7pm. We invite you to join us at our store for refreshments and the chance to meet Michelle!

Can’t make it to the exhibition? Check out the Emily Grace Artwork online gallery.