Get To Know the Talented New York Illustrator | MISSBISH Michelle Alfonso
Artist: Michelle Alfonso
Location: New York
How did you become an artist?
I was very shy as a kid (I still am). I always had a problem communicating my ideas. Growing up, I was drawn to my art classes because it was the only place in school where you didn’t need to talk or feel pressured. It was very freeing. As I got older it was clear to me that this was my path. It made sense to go to art school once I graduated. At art school, that’s where I really developed as an artist. I gained the skills and a deeper understanding of art.
Hip-Hop has a major influence in most of your illustrations. Outside of the culture, what else inspires your art?
So many things influence my art, it’s hard to pinpoint. I’m generally influenced by anything that is beautiful to look at or has some sort of sentimental aspect to it. I look up to Kehinde Wiley and Tatyana Fazlalizadeh. I also love more traditional artists like Toulouse-Lautrec and Matisse.
In today’s creative field, it happens quite often where someone copies another artist’s work. What is your secret to staying original and true to your work?
Go with your gut. You know better than anyone else. If it’s honest and coming from a genuine place it will feel right. If it doesn’t, then there’s a problem and you should figure it out.
What do you want to evoke in people when they see your art?
I don’t want to get fake deep here haha. I’m not really sure. I definitely want people of color to see themselves represented more in art. I want artists of color to see that you can make art about people who look like you.
Can you give an aspiring artist advice on how to succeed in this industry?
Dabble in a little bit of everything. Don’t shy away from things you want to pursue because you don’t know how or you weren’t taught. Be honest with yourself. Don’t force yourself to do things you’re not into. Build up your work ethic. The more you create and the more things you put out there, the higher the chance of gaining an opportunity from it will be. Social media is very powerful. Show your work on different social media platforms. Understand that it’s not going to happen overnight and that’s okay. Maintain connections with like-minded people and creative friends, it will come in handy in the future!
“Dabble in a little bit of everything. Don’t shy away from things you want to pursue because you don’t know how or you weren’t taught. Be honest with yourself. Don’t force yourself to do things you’re not into. Build up your work ethic.”
What is next for you?
I have no idea. That’s the fun and scary part about being a creative person... You never really know what’s next.
Finish the sentence:
If I weren’t afraid I would... open up to people more and stop being so shy.
I wouldn’t be where I am today if... it weren’t for my mom and sisters.
I’ve been listening to... a lot of Radiolab and This American Life podcasts.
Kids these days... are really amazing. Smarter and funnier than ever…but also bizarre and scary (I might be getting old).
I look and feel my best when... I complete a piece. Also, when I make people happy.
When no one is looking I... dance in front of my mirror.
Traveling... is the ultimate goal.
Collaborations are... fun!
If I could, I would purchase an original... Mickalene Thomas.
I respect... people who hustle.
Photos by: Daniel Racz