Behind the Artist: Melarie Odelusi
Melarie Odelusi is an artist working out of Dallas, Texas, specializing in illustrator and lettering, whose work celebrates empowerment and storytelling.
Did you always know you wanted to be an artist?
"I found interest in art when I was really young and it has been a form of healing and self expression for me since. I was always the girl carrying a sketchbook around school and would skip lunch to paint in art class. I knew that my career would somehow consist of art or something creative. Ultimately, I wanted to be an artist and sell my work to people who connected with it, which is wild that I am doing that today."
Do you think your background or experiences influence your work? If so, can you tell us about that?
"Absolutely. I believe that whatever I create comes from experience or stories I have heard from others. Whatever sparks my inspiration in any moment came from something that was already in me so it will come from that."
Who are your biggest artistic influences? Where do you find inspiration?
"My biggest artistic influences are the women in my life. It is my story and the stories of women that influence my work. Representation of black women in art, whether we are the subject or painter, is very important to me and influences my work as well. Artists that I love are Yoyo Lander, Cristina Martinez, Lauren Pearce, Amy Sherald, Kehinde Wiley and Debra Cartwright just to name a few."
How do you want your art to make people feel?
"I share my experiences as a woman through my work in hopes that other women will be able to connect and see themselves in my work. It is the storytelling that makes art so healing and allows others to feel seen. I love when women tell me how my work sets the tone for their space and is a reminder for them when times are difficult. It is how this all started for me. I needed works and art in my home to encourage and uplift me in hard times so I am so excited that my work can do the same for others."
What motivates you to create?
"EVERYTHING! Ha! I am inspired to create from music, lyrics, morning walks and so many other things. Anything can spark my creativity at any moment. I am also motivated from lessons that I learn as a woman and stories I learn from others. Especially, as a black woman. Representation is important for me and I want to see and hear our stories being told in an artist way and our voices heard in this industry."
What do you think makes your art different from other artists’?
"I believe that my work sets me apart because God created me like no one else. I am the heart and soul behind what I create. Another artist and I can illustrate the same piece and it will always look different. Beautiful, right? I think we forget so often how many people share similar stories, create the same product or do the same type of work but it would not sound or look the same because we are all different."
What has been your biggest success as an artist? Your biggest challenge?
"This has been a journey of discovery of myself and art when it comes to being a creative entrepreneur. I have learned so much from so many people and having a community is why I am where I am professionally. It has not been easy but I love what I do so much that I have powered through some pretty difficult seasons and I do not regret it. Making mistakes is how we learn and it helps to be surrounded by people who believe in you and your work."
Can you describe your process from concept to final piece?
"Every project is different when it comes to creating for people and brands. I love to start with a conversation with my client to brainstorm and learn the vision of their project. That is always important. With art, we are still solving a problem, whether it is for a person’s home or a campaign. From there, I provide rough concepts, usually 2-3 with a wild card concept, as I like to call it. I usually push the envelope with that one. We refine the sketch that is chosen by the client, add color and finishing touches."