Heavily inspired by the emerging art scene in Grand Rapids’ Creston neighborhood, muralist and printmaker Michelle Facer is ready to make her mark in West Michigan. A 2017 graduate from Kendall College, Facer works in printmaking, illustration and large-scale mural art. Drive through the Creston neighborhood and you’ll have the chance to view not one but two of her beautiful and dreamy murals.
How did your education at Kendall shape your art and potentially your career moving forward post-graduation?
I was born and raised in Grand Rapids and graduated from Kendall College of Art and Design with a BFA in Illustration and a Printmaking minor in 2017. I’ve been drawing ever since I can remember. I’ve always had sketchbooks and doodles in the margins of my notes. I always knew I wanted to be an artist. By the time I was looking into college, I felt that illustration would be the best fit for me. In my second year, I discovered printmaking and it gave me a whole new medium to create in.
I think that Kendall shaped my technical skills into what they are today. I don’t know what my art would be like without that foundation. My courses in art history gave me a lot of inspiration to draw from. I think being in that environment, surrounded by creatives and talking to other students and professors, helped shape where I want to take my career.
If you could use one word to describe your art, what would it be?
What is your creative process when designing a new print?
I usually start with a pencil sketch, which I then ink with a brush pen and turn into a stencil. I give myself a few options for how I want to layer each color of the print and will go through a series of tests before I find the combination I like. With printmaking, sometimes you can create something that is exactly like what’s in your head. Usually, the print kind of becomes itself as you’re working with the medium and figuring out its strengths and limitations. I like to create images based on a mood or dream I’ve had. It’s always interesting to decipher what the specific images mean to me while I’m working on a piece.
As someone who has lived in Grand Rapids her whole life, how has this area helped you as a creative?
I think that the art community on Avenue for the Arts/Division and in the Creston neighborhood has helped me in finding ways to give my art more exposure with artist markets. I think Grand Rapids is a good area for artists because there is a strong community of creatives who provide a lot of opportunities for collaboration.
Right: Selfie. Middle: Michelle Facer. Right: Shadows
Speaking of Creston, what was it like participating in the Creston After Dark event and what is your process when creating mural work?
Last year, I was asked to paint a mural in the parking lot of Lions and Rabbits. Other than painting a small spot on the Movies on Monroe parking lot, I had never done any mural work. I was really excited but also nervous to tackle such a large project. I had a good experience with that mural, so when I was asked to participate in Creston After Dark, I immediately said yes.
My main inspiration when creating mural work is the area that I am working in. I used cicadas, which are symbols of rebirth and rejuvenation, in my mural at Lions and Rabbits. I used dogs to represent adaptability and determination in my mural at J&K’s at Creston After Dark.
What keeps you going as an artist?
The most important thing to me as an artist is being able to make the space to create, even if it is only 15 minutes a day. Prioritizing time to sit down and make something has always been the most important thing to me. I think my passion and need for creating is what keeps me going.
Find Facer’s work at michellefacer.com and on Instagram at michelle_facer.
Creston Mural By Michelle Facer