Creative Thursday by Marisa is the brainchild of artist Marisa Anne Cummings (who goes by Marisa Anne). The imaginative characters she’s created are perfect friends for decorating children’s rooms and other walls that need some love. Marisa Anne’s work has been featured on TV and in national magazines. Her book, Creative Thursday: Everyday Inspiration to Grow Your Creative Practice by Marisa Anne, will be available in late November, 2012. We caught up with her on a recent Monday to ask about Creative Thursday.
Oopsy daisy: Are Thursdays a particularly creative day for you?
Marisa Anne: They have always been my favorite day of the week. You know how for some people, there’s always a day you just feel your best? For me, it was always Thursdays. I’ve always enjoyed that day because it’s just before Friday—there’s a little excitement around it.
When I lived in Boulder, a friend and I started getting together to be more creative. It often ended up being on a Thursday, so I said “let’s call it Creative Thursday.” When I started my own business, it was the perfect name. Because it acts as a sort of umbrella for everything I do. I work in a lot of different media. I think sometimes people think they have to do one medium or another, but I don’t. This name can house all the things that I do.
Od: Do you have formal art training?
MA: I have some training, but in the beginning I didn’t actually believe that it would be particularly easy—not that it has been, of course—to make a living through art. I thought a smarter approach would be advertising. I knew I always wanted to work creatively but wanted to give myself a business focus to fall back on. Along with my advertising courses I took a lot of classes in fine arts. In the end, it served me so well as an entrepreneur to have all that initial insight into how to market and think along those terms.
Od: What is your process and your medium?
MA: I start with pencil and acrylic, and it’s become my signature style to create the originals on wood. That’s why most of my characters are white—I fell in love with how the white paint interacts with natural wood background. The wood grain interacts with white and creates dimension.
Od: You are known for those sweet little characters, both human and animal. Do they each have a name and a backstory?
MA: It’s funny you ask that. They do have names but they don’t have a backstory. I have been considering that idea lately. They appeared in my working style when I started to do daily paintings. There was a time when I didn’t know how I was going to make a living but I knew I loved working creatively and knew I had to give it a go. Then these characters made an appearance and that style was what started to sell for me. I feel like this group of characters showed up in support of my doing what I love. They are on the cover of my book and in my earliest fabrics.
I recently created a work that featured all 74 of the characters. I wanted to see them all together and think about what their stories are. For certain, they are absolutely here to inspire people and make them happy. They go out into the world and support other people in finding what they love, either professionally or in their day-to-day life.
Od: Seventy-four! That’s a lot of characters, and a lot of names. Are they named after people in your life?
MA: No. There’s one named Irwin— Irwin was my grandfather— but they really aren’t anybody that I know. They are names that are in the ether. It’s funny, but when I name one I’ll start to notice how many kids are being born with that name—like Ruby and Olive and Miss Fran, Lola, Simone, Eli. I sort of look at them and certain names come out. Garbo is actually my cat. I put her in there because I painted her a couple times. Little Blue is an owl. Louis is a lion. Those two end up together a lot. And when I put them all together, I noticed that a lot of them like to wear stripes.
Od: What’s it like to see your fine art for kids being used as set decoration on sitcoms or featured in magazines?
MA: It’s very exciting. It’s also a little odd because you like to think that something like that would push your art into a new level. But that’s not the case, because even in print it’s usually not credited. Where you can buy it, maybe, but not the name of the artist. Perhaps people don’t remember what it’s like to have a small, growing business.
In the end, though, my ultimate goal with my work is to have people have the opportunity to feel joy when they see it.
Od: One final question: If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
MA: Flying would probably be pretty good. I am one of those people who has been able to fly in my dreams. It’s really really cool. I guess I’m a freedom seeker.