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Meet one of the artists behind Heirloom: Melissa Charpentier

Meet one of the artists behind Heirloom: Melissa Charpentier

Our new collection - Heirloom - incorporates beautiful design with meaningful handmade art. It recalls some of our most iconic past pieces as well as new imaginings from lead artist Melissa Charpentier. Incorporating the watercolor artwork that Melissa is known for in a range of hues, this season is one to cherish and pass on to generations to come. 

We took the opportunity recently with the Heirloom release to sit down with Melissa and ask her a few questions about her thoughts on the range and her creative process. Read on to find out more about Melissa and what inspires her.

Here at DB we know you and your art very well, but for anyone who doesn’t, could you introduce yourself to us?

My name is Melissa. I'm 34 years old, mom to two kiddos aged 5 + 9. Along with my husband we live on the west coast of Canada. We share our home with some feline friends and our backyard hens. My passion has always been watercolor, when I illustrate it’s completely done by hand. Technology has never been my strong suit and I enjoy the almost meditation that comes from traditional art. In the last few years I’ve started branching into gouache, many of my pieces for the heirloom collection are mixed media between the two mediums. 

What is your favourite piece that you designed for us for the Heirloom collection and is there a story behind it?

I’m going to be cheeky and say two. Foremost was Save the Sea. As a 90’s kid I was obsessed with national geographic animal documentaries, and I've always dreamed of visiting a coral reef. While my dream to travel somewhere to see one in person hasn’t happened yet, I still am inspired and in awe of the diversity our oceans contain. It was a real joy to illustrate and research, dreamed up by this Canadian who can't wait to see it in person someday. 

Secondly was Spring Woodland. Much closer to my home country this print is chalked full of North American delights. My most favourite thing to illustrate is animals and botanicals. This design was painted at my husbands family cabin. It's located in the Shuswap which is rich in wildflowers, every one you see was collected from our property by myself and my children. So for that reason alone it's very close to my heart. 

What is inspiring your creative practice at the moment?

I’ve been hibernating for over a year artistically. After a productive 2021 my artistic soul needed a rest in 2022. “Nothing blooms all year long” Thankfully the creative winds have shifted in 2023 and Carla and I have some lovely things on the go. I mostly just follow where the inspiration takes me, sometimes its photos I’ve seen, plants that interest me, wildlife I haven’t explored yet. Most of my creativity comes from nature. 

Would you share one of your favourite childhood memories with us?

My mother is the most amazing person I know, When I was 11 ish she enrolled me in art classes. Not kid ones, real ones. I remember feeling so seen, the crayola art supplies were replaced with a fancy German watercolor kit. I’ll never forget that feeling of my mom investing in me, believing in my art skills to pay for fancy classes and supplies. Feeling like I belonged in that downtown studio. It’s a core memory I'll treasure forever.

Do you have any special family heirlooms that have been passed down to you?

I own my grandmother's sewing machine, more than that I own a few of her masterful quilts. A completely different art form than my own but they’re such a treasure to me. She volunteered for years at a Mennonite museum, and I remember her fondling telling me about a humility block, a small error, the purposeful mistake. Nothing can ever be perfect, I try and be kind to myself in my art and carry on that sentiment in my own art form. 

Is there any piece of the Heirloom collection that you would love in your own home?

Any of the blankets! If you haven’t felt one or seen one yet they’re the most magical blankets ever. I'd love to bring Spring woodland back out to the Shuswap where it was illustrated and use it at the family cabin we’ve raised our children in. Revel in the power of creating and how amazing it is that me, in my little corner of Canada is so lucky to be able to illustrate for a beautiful company like Designer Bums.