When I discovered Grace Miceli's work on Tumblr, it changed the way I saw myself as a woman living in the world. Truly. And it wasn't just her art — her perfect portrait of Gwen Stefani with blue hair and braces, or the painting that simply said GIRLS AT NIGHT ON THE INTERNET — it was her selfies and the other feminist artists she reblogged that opened up new worlds for me. It was like Grace's work allowed me to fully embrace my womanhood in every single way — my femininity, my feelings, my sadness, my desires. As soon as I found out she was moving to New York City, in 2011, I invited her out on a friend date (we had become Internet pals by then, so it wasn't totally creepy).
Since then, I have seen her thrive, whether because of her art, or because of the supercool clothes she makes emblazoned with her colorful, almost childlike illustrations, or because she's traveling the world as a freelance curator with Art Baby Girl, the online gallery space she started while still in college. Most recently she was in Taiwan and Taipei, where she curated a show featuring young feminist artists. I've always admired Grace because she's so uniquely authentic and fully understands the art of the hustle. She knows it's never-ending, and essential.
As we were thinking of people to feature in this issue, I thought Grace would be such a perfect person to talk to: she's self-made and she is also still at the beginning of her career. I figured she would have valuable advice and perspective to everyone else who is also trying to make their side gig into their main gig, or even if they're just trying to start their own creative business. Grace was candid and funny because she just simply cannot be, and we talked about early Internet usage, why Instagram matters, and why cute bunnies that say "Fuck the police" are important.
Laia Garcia: Did you always want to be an artist? Were your parents supportive?
Grace Miceli: Yes. It was something I always knew I wanted, but it took me a very long time to realize, and to gain the confidence to actually pursue it as a career.
My parents both are the type of people who have day jobs [while still pursuing their creative interests]. My dad's in a bunch of bands and my mom's an artist. They said, "You can study whatever you want, but when you graduate you have to support yourself." They were always super supportive, but they were like, "We're not going to pay your rent if you just want to be an artist."
LG: And you studied photography while you were in college, which is a bit surprising.
GM: My major was photography because at Smith, if you couldn't paint or draw well, like in a realistic style, then that is your major. I had an interest in it, but it was more of a, Well, I guess I'll do this.
Toward the end of school is when I started to draw in my own style that I've developed. My attitude was much more, Fuck it, I'm going to do whatever I want. It took me a while [to get there]. It took Tumblr and finding people who were into my art online to have the confidence to do that, because in school that wasn't encouraged. I couldn't show those drawings in a crit.
LG: That segues perfectly into my next question: Did you always have an online presence?