The Wildness of Ireland & Restraint of Japan with Michelle of Mishku Studio
After making it to the final round in job interviews and each one falling through, Michelle ultimately knew that she wanted to start her own business. It seemed like the perfect time, so why not start that now? She wondered that maybe this was all a sign. With studies of textile designs and fashion as her background, she began creating wedding stationary. She had loved designing for her own wedding. It was what seemed like a perfect fit.
Taking time to take instruction, her coach Emma Natter, asked her why she didn't design for brands. Michelle didn't not want to move in that direction, but Emma encouraged her to try it. Michelle thought, “Oh, I guess it's just the same thing. You're kind of branding people's weddings but you're doing it for business.” Once she created for her test subject, she realized she loved it which completely threw her. “I thought I was going to be a textile designer or continue with fashion, but this is.. yeah, I'm so happy in this.” Design feels much more purposeful for her. She felt that in fashion, you can create something, but it makes it way out within the next season. Branding, however, is personal, it holds value, and it lasts.
How do you stay inspired?
I think for my personal work, I have two places. My dad is passed away now, but he's from Ireland. He was from a rural part of Ireland on the west coast. We have gone there and go there every year, and it is just the most magical place. It's really wild. It's one of the places that wasn't really touched by the English and a lot of people still speak native Irish. In the field, there's a house called a fairy fort. It's ruins of a medieval building and you're not meant to touch it because it's a portal to the fairy world. There’s all of this magical folklore, and all my family is there and they have all of these stories. Up the hill from my house, is the house that my dad grew up in and it's abandoned now, so it's taken over by nature. It's just- I love going there and searching through all of these forgotten things. I never met my grandmother so finding her bits and pieces- notes, recipes, and scraps of fabrics. It's all just kind of there. Whenever I feel a bit stuck, I revisit that in my mind or physically every year and that is a massive inspiration for me. On the flip side of that, my husband is Japanese and we go to Japan a lot. Just the design and aesthetic and philosophies inspire me so much. Weirdly enough, Japanese and Irish culture in different ways are very similar. I see a lot of similarities in the way they think and do things. I love the idea holding onto what you have now because it could disappear, and wabi-sabi. These are the things that I go back to- my personal travels and experiences and philosophies I really resonate with.
The internet is a fabulous tool, but it can also really hinder your creativity. You start seeing the end product of something that someone has worked on for ages. You forget they worked on it for ages and went through sweat and tears to get there and it feels so effortless. That can really hinder you and break your spirit. You don't see that they half gave up on it before they got there. If you're really feeling stuck, that's probably the last place you should go to because it's just a series that are at their best. You don't see all that it took to get there. I would suggest people finding that outside thing that deeply resonates with them and they will always find inspiration from it. They will walk away knowing who they are again. Everyone has to go through that stage of- this is on trend or I should be doing this- it's an important part of you finding your way. Eventually you will find what makes you you and you have to try your best to stand by that even though it can be hard.
What inspired your latest brand shoot?
It was drawing from the story that I shared perviously. That wildness of Ireland from the medieval ruins. Along with wanting my work to feel like you're finding little previous things, but keeping things minimal, which speaks to my Japanese influence, and speaking to what's important- having a clear message. So it's really that wildness of Ireland along with the restraint of Japan that I always show through my aesthetics and brand.
What does creativity mean to you?
Creativity to me means being inspired by everything around me. I always thought it was a normal thing that everyone does that- that they would look at leaves thinking “Oh my god, the shape of this.” And as I got older, I realized oh no, that's not everyone's thought process. Being inspired by the world around you or your experiences and translating that into something that only you can do-that's uniquely yours. Making something new out of your inspiration.
Did you always observe the world around you?
I definitely think I always had that. Always. Most of my memories as a kid- I was always told I was a very serious child because I was always contemplating things a bit too deeply. And being quite obsessed with aesthetics, I decided I wanted to stress myself really early on and had a definite idea about these things. So I think yeah, that's always been with me.
Do you feel there are ways to develop this?
I think your path creativity or finding your way to creativity will be a very personal thing. It doesn't have to look like mine or anyone else's. Someone might be inspired differently than what I would even think of. I think you need to find what sparks it for you and try to do it as much as you can or foster it as much as you can. I've learned a lot from my dad. He was incredibly creative. He wasn't an artist but he was a self taught civil engineer, and he was able to see things – a job that needed to be done- and was able to invent something from nothing. I think that's the ultimate form of creativity. That you are able to invent something that doesn't already exist from an idea.
What do you feel when you look back on your journey?
I definitely don't regret anything. When I was doing fashion and textiles, it taught me so much about design, an dI feel like I can come at things with that experience and with a design experience that is not solely in graphic design. I think my work is pretty tactile- so I feel like that's definitely from my love of materials. I definitely don't regret any of it- I think anything that you have leading up to finding your place ends up being necessary. You end up using those skills, even if they are completely unrelated, using those skills. I feel like experience in anything helps you once you find a niche. I don't think anything is really wasted when you are trying hard and doing your best. I feel like you're always going to walk away with something as long as you are doing it to the best of your ability.
What are some things that you do while you work?
I often work in bed which is terrible, but it's warm. Our bedroom is at the front of the house and we have a window so I can see what's going on outside. I usually have my little cat Sushi with me and she's lying there snoring. I then listen to True Crime Podcast and I'm obsessed. That's what I listen to all day. My little sister introduced me to Serial, one that came out awhile ago, then I ran across True Crime and I'm just obsessed.